We are similar. 3 boys, 2,9,14. The older boys love being outdoors and I can't keep the little guy inside. His first words in the morning are outside and walk! The chore list us really important. It keeps the kids active and gives then a sense of pride completing tasks to help the whole family with the trip. The older kids will bike and look for animals all day for fun. My little guy wants to be with them and is very low maintenance as long as he is outside. campgrounds with fishing or fishing nearby is a must. Take advantage of parks with scheduled activities and amenities that your while family will enjoy. My favorite park had weekly horse shoe tournaments, random partners. Entry fee is a beer with winning team take all. The horse shoe pits are right next to the pool and playground so in between games I'm with the kids and wife. Most important have fun. I restrict electronic usage camping other than takingvideos, music and cameras until well after dark then movies are ok.
Let the teenagers learn to build a proper campfire... Proper being one that can be lit and stay lit with one match.. one that is an actual fire, not tons of smoke.. once they get it down together, let them have competitions.. first one to boil a cup of water wins.. the little ones can help gather tinder, wood and cheer for the teenagers.. Make the campfire.. including stories, jokes, word games, songs around the campfire, be the teenagers responsibility.. they can research prior to trip and then try them out each evening.
First, My heart goes out to you. We are close to retirement age and we have frequently been the long term custodial of young grandsons. (Sixty-somethings should not be wrangling toddlers.) Your age spread is a built in obstacle to a pleasant time, but if you involve the teenagers in the planning, you will have limited their reasons to complain (worked with our kids).
Second, we have a very small antique NH, we frequently take a wagon to events to carry DW's stuff into the demonstration areas. To do this I bought a cargo rack like this. (You don't have to buy this one and if you are thinking about it keep watching the sales flyer as they get cheaper sometimes.) We also got a set of tie-down straps and a plastic trap to keep things clean.
There are folding wagons available also, but I don't think they would carry kids well - too many places to pinch little fingers. I have never locked the wagon one the "back porch" and we have never had any issue with that.
I wish you pleasant and uneventful travel.
Or as we say Fair Wind and Smooth Seas.
Matt & Mary Colie
A sailor, his bride and their black dog going to see some dry places that have Geocaches in a coach made the year we married.
smdallas, we are very similar...my 2 year old also runs to the door every morning yelling Outside! Now!
sbishop, I hadn't thought of walkie-talkies, but I remember having loads of fun with a set we had as kids. Awesome tip, thanks!
wannavolunteer - that's a great idea...maybe after they learn to build a proper smoke-free campfire, they can teach me!
And finally, jeffcarp, the boondocking is out of the question. The only way I got Mr. Bout2buy to agree to the camping thing is to promise to never ask to camp in a tent or a "rustic" site. But I'm OK with that...there are so many awesome campgrounds to explore. Maybe after some more time he might change his tune, but we're talking about a guy who wanted at least 800 thread count sheets on the mattress in the 5ver! LOL It's totally fine, we are just weekend warriors still at this point...we don't stray too far from home or for too long, with the kids being involved in sports and the hubby's job that's about all we can do.
It is quite a balancing act but I think I can find something for everyone. I got another idea last night...my 5 year old and the 14 year old were making some beaded jewelry, so I put together a little box of stuff to take along. It is hard to find things that a teen and a kindergartener have in common but what girl doesn't love some bling!?
I want to bring the wagon so we can pull the little one along on hikes, but it takes up so much storage space. I don't suppose they make a folding wagon...? Off to search the internet now!
Oh, and great idea on including the teens in picking where we go. I have a list of campgrounds we've been wanting to try so I think I will just hand it over to them and let them pick where our next excursion will be. Keep these great tips and ideas coming!
I would encourage you to include the family in your trip planning activities. Let the teenagers contribute to your destination planning. Let them use the Internet to research. Find an area that they like for reasons that might be outside of a campground activity (i.e., day trip to a water park, amusement park, etc.) then look for camping options around that location. You could structure your planning so you stay at more than one campground to get your husband to compromise on his fear of boondocking. Stay at a hookup campground for a longer period of time, but on the way to it, bookdock somewhere for just a night. He can get through that knowing he will have his hookups in a day. Get him to break his habit and maybe next time you can extend it. As a grown adult, I like to use electronics while camping too. But compromise with them. Set a daily limit that forces them to do other things.
Bless you both, it seems you have taken on a heavy responsibility. We started our kids off early and when the grandkids came along we got them going too, so right now we're just taking Tweens. We allow DS's but no TV unless we're camped and then only if the weather is bad or the camp site is not safe. We let them run loose but of course we are really watching them and they stay in contact with us with walkie talkies. We try to find places that are fun like National Parks but occationally we will look for private campgrounds with fun features like swimming and outdoor games for the kids to play. It's harder with teens but you might let them try and pick a spot that has something that will keep them busy but with the stipulation that they must include the younger one's too. Not babysit but make sure there is something for them to do. We don't have the phone problem yet but the granddaughter is scheduled to get one in June so we will have to set the times she can use it while we're traveling. You really seem to have a good feel for what you need to do and I think while the older ones may grumble some, knowing they are being included (with out you saying so, but showing by example) in the family and the activities that in a few years of struggling you will reap your rewards when they tell their friends how much they enjoyed camping and the places you visited. I'm not sure where you live but there are usually places of interest for teens where you could stop for a special treat for them. We do that for each other as well as for the grandkids.
I guess we're kind of lucky because our grandkids put the electronics away a lot now because even looking out the windows can be a lot of fun. My wife alerts them when something is approaching and on which side of the road.
There are just lots of things to try and you'll find what works for you and them.
Once again, Bless You, for what you are doing.
"I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel's sake. The great affair is to go". R. L. Stevenson