Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Family Camping Made Easy - Bathing in the woods

If you are just joining us in the series on Family Camping Made Easy, you can click on the links below to see the other topics already covered:  Warm sleepers are happy sleepers, Baby adventures, and Preschool adventures.  Otherwise, moving right along - on to bathing, hygiene, and getting the sand out of your child's hair.

Honestly, until we had a child, the issue of getting clean after a day of camping was the furthest thing from my mind.  We'd go hiking and get all sweaty, dirty, and dusty - didn't matter.  It was nothing a wet-wipe couldn't fix.  I've been known to wipe my face, legs and arms down with wet-wipes in the car before going into restaurants post hiking and it always made me clean enough that at least people didn't stare or move their table further away.  I know that most modern campgrounds have showers but every time I walk in to a public shower I recoil in horror at the hair on the floor (that isn't mine), the dirt everywhere, and the general filth.  Better to just stay dusty until I get back to the city and can use my own dirty shower (at least it's my own hair filling the drain).

Having a child changes things though.  Last summer we took a two week vacation down to Washington and camped most of the time.  Part of the time was spent camping on the Olympic Peninsula where there are gorgeous beaches to be explored.  There's also sand to be played with, eaten, rubbed all over your nose that just happens to be covered in snot, rubbed on your face that's still sticky from lunch - you get the picture.  In case you need a visual, look at the photo below.

Why we had to figure out a bathing system

We hadn't really thought much about bathing and hygiene until this moment.  Wet-wipes weren't going to cut it and we didn't have a bath tub with us.  The campground didn't even have showers (at least not that we discovered).  Enter our washing basin for dishes to save the day.

We're going to need a larger dish basin this summer

This summer I think we're going to have to find something a little bigger.  I love the large basin our friends used last summer when they were camping at a beach for a week.

Isn't this precious! (Photo:  G. Duncan)

I think I honestly wrote this whole post just because I wanted to get this photo above on my blog.  The first time I saw it I laughed my head off for probably ten minutes.  These are the kinds of memories you are going to build if you take your kids camping.  This is why you don't wait until they're older and it's "easier."

As in all the other parts of this series, I've done my research so that I can present suggestions and ideas from the larger outdoor world.

Lindsey from Outside Mom.com wrote a fabulous story called Camping and the Art of Cleanliness on her blog that you need to check out.  She even has a link to a collapsible bucket.  It looks a little small to me but I understand you can custom order the size.

Do you have any other suggestions for putting clean kids to bed when camping?

Next in this Family Camping series:  Napping and quiet time when camping with small children


  1. Just stumbled on your blog and am loving it! We're a camping family too (also from Calgary), this will be our fourth year camping with the kids (who are now 4 and 7). And I totally understand about dirty kids at the campground! Before bedtime we set up a small chair/stool/whatever and the dish basin of soapy water and give each boy a quick sponge bath before going in the tent and getting jammies on. Hands, arms, feet, legs and faces only take a minute to wash down and it feels better to go to sleep clean. And in a pinch, a rubbermaid tote that we use to pack our gear can act as a bathtub!

    1. Thanks for reading Jen and for leaving a comment. Check out my group on facebook: The Calgary Family Adventure Community. We're doing a big spring camping trip and still have space. The link is on the side bar above to the right.

  2. We're getting ready for our first camping trip of the season and I was wondering if you know where your friends purchased the red basin pictured above. I'd love to get my hands on something like that! I had planned on using a large Rubbermaid for bathing, but something that collapses would be better!

    1. We got one of these large basins at Costco I think it was. They came in sets of two. We've used ours to bathe our very large 4 year old. My friend said she got hers at Walmart or Canadian Tire. Look around in camping sections and you should find something.