Camping with Toddlers, Mistakes made and Lessons Learned!

“Let’s take the girls camping!”
I announced one evening in mid-December, my husband looked a little stunned and said: 
“Okay, where should we go?” 

We decided to take the girls camping for only one night, at a semi-local campground. That way, if anything went wrong, we would be able to get home pretty easily.
Location, Location, Location! 

At Larry and Penny Thompson Park, you can camp for only 16.95 per night, and the campground is located very close to playgrounds, the Zoo, and a Grocery Store. 
Hours of Operation
Sunrise to Sunset

Office Hours

9 a.m. – 5 p.m., daily
Park Office

Since we wanted to camp on the Friday before New Year’s Eve, I called the office a week prior and tried to make a reservation. I was told that there was no need to make a reservation for tent camping and that we would have no problem. 
Mistake: I had additional questions and concerns about it being a busy season, but I didn’t voice them. 
So, when we arrived at the campground there were no sites available and our only option was to try and find another campground or wait until 4:00 p.m. to see if anyone who had paid the deposit didn’t show. 
Lesson Learned: Always ask questions, it turns out that I could have driven to the campground and given a small deposit to secure our campsite. Additionally, I could have driven down to the campground at 11:00 a.m. to claim the site, and then gone back when my husband got out of work at 2:00 p.m. 
We hung around the campground office and I called every single campground in South Florida looking for a way to take our girls camping that night. 
At 4:00 p.m., we were able to secure a campsite at Larry and Penny, but it was a stressful hour waiting to see if we would get to camp or not. 
The campsites at Larry and Penny are unlike anything I’ve ever seen, instead of there being assigned lots for each tent, it was an open field. Guests were able to put their tent anywhere they wanted, as long as they didn’t block a road.  This was pretty neat, we were able to pick a spot close to a tree and a picnic table! 
Tent Camping Area
So, as soon as we arrived. I started to get to work on Dinner while Chris and the girls set up the tent. 
Cooking Hot Dogs & Beans 
My Sus Chef! 

Mistake:  Know how to use your camping equipment. This may seem obvious to most people, and It should have been obvious to me, but I didn’t realize we’d need a flame of some sort to start our little Coleman grill.

Thankfully, there was another family right near us so we asked to borrow a lighter to get dinner going.  So awkward…
Lesson Learned:    Ask your husband what we need to cook the food. 😉

Love Bug helping Dad with the tent!

After dinner, we put some bug repellent on the girls and have some playtime before the sun went down. I bought lots of bubbles with us, but I should have brought a couple of soccer balls for the girls to play with. There was a lot of room to run and play, and a soccer ball would have been perfect! – Just another Lesson Learned.

The campground was dark by around 6:30 p.m. and the girls were ready to go to sleep. Unfortunately, one of my girls started to feel homesick and couldn’t relax and the baby was exhausted and trying to sleep. So, I took the big girls for a walk around the campground while my husband tried to get the youngest down for the night. 

While on our walk we discovered a laundry facility and a large community bathroom.

Bathroom Selfie! 
Coin Laundry
 Eventually, all the girls fell asleep and my husband and I stayed up laughing at the crazy adventure we’d already had while enjoyed “raw s’mores”.  
The girls slept great, I think a lot of that had to do with the fact that we literally took their pillows and bedding off their bed and brought it with us. A little piece of home can go a long way. 
As per usual, the girls got up at first sunlight, and couldn’t wait to go outside and play. We had a lovely breakfast of marshmallows, and granola bars before beginning to pack everything up to head to the playground. 

Additional Thoughts and Information

Larry and Penny is a great location to go test the waters of camping with your young family, especially if you live in the Miami-Dade area. With a cost of less than 20.00 per night, it also makes a very frugal friendly camping option.

It took me some time to find the water to wash our dishes, but I did eventually find it. We brought water with us for cooking and drinking, but there was a source of water in the tent camping area.

This park also has beach access, a swimming pool, and water slide. We did not visit any of these amenities because of the cool weather, but for a small fee, they are available for guests.
See current pricing here. 

Overall we had a terrific time camping with our girls, and would like to try it again and perhaps stay for a couple of nights!

Camping with toddlers can seem very overwhelming, but I encourage you to do it! Build the memories with your family, our girls were so excited about their big camping trip, and have been playing “camping” ever since!

Happy Camping Friends!

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