Camping with technology & kids.

Posted: July 19, 2010 in apps, hardware, iphone, technology
Tags: , , , , , ,

My kids and I went camping along with my niece’s husband and his two kids. As much as I had thought it was to be an escape from the hustle & bustle and be roughing-it, it was the first time we took iPods & my iPhone, and a little friend we call Justin Case. Turns out Justin Case was a very popular guy this time around.

Justin Case we needed to recharge any of the “i” devices we took along a power inverter for the car that gives us a regular outlet in the car where the 12V dc car outlet is. As it turned out I was charging ipods and my iPhone very often. An old friend was also staying at the same campground and we were using email to keep in touch when the cellphone towers were cooperating that is. (There are strange pockets within the campground were cellular service cuts outs due to terrain). Not to mention keeping in touch with my wife via txt message since she had no interest in going with us and camping in a tent.

Justin Case was also around as far as food went, as you never know what you are going to feel like eating, but mostly Justin Case brought along much needed power adapters, cables, extensions, etc. Thankfully he also brought along jumper cables, and first aid supplies, but i’m jumping ahead. Because as much as I thought we would be busy all the time, it turned out it was just the adults busy all the time, while the kids seemed to have plenty of time to question “what’s for dinner?”, “when are we eating?”, ” can I have a snack while we wait?”, “when can we go to the beach again?” etc., etc., etc..

During this preteen down time, there seemed to be a fair bit of time for the chillens to play with their iPods both together and separately. Apparently the Ghost Radar ghost hunting app was a real hit with a couple of the braver ones as the campground seemed to be riddled with the unseen apparitions. Well unseen by me, but maybe I just didn’t believe enough.

The weather was pretty good but it was nice to know when it was going to change and also have a heads up as too how much rain we were going to get. For that I can’t thank the app WeatherEye enough. Knowing we were about to get 10 to 15 mm of rain and there was a thunderstorm warning in effect for the campground gave us enough time to batten down the hatches and prepare ourselves. Preparing ourselves entailed getting everything we could need for a potential night in the car. iPods in hand, food & drinks in the back, and pillows nearby, we settled into our cars for a potentially scary evening never really knowing how bad it was gonna get.

The kids watched movies, played games and listened to music while nature threw some pretty nasty weather at us. I kept starting up the car and letting it run for a bit to ensure I wasn’t draining down the battery completely as I charged my iPhone and powered the power outlet feeding the MobiCool refrigerated cooler we had just bought.  We needed to defrost the windows anyway, since us sitting in the car doing that breathing-thing was fogging them up and it was also a good way to keep the contents of the cooler cold. Anyone who likes to have their milk and dairy icy cold and not worry about them going off should definitely consider an electric cooler.

We watched the nasty weather come and go, sneaking out between cloudbursts to check on the fire and the half cooked potatoes. I even took a video of the kids saying goodnight which I emailed to my wife while we were in the car, posted a couple of photos to FaceBook, and caught up on my emails. Eventually the rain stopped enough we could get out and eat our much anticipated dinner.  Keeping an eye on the weather we were able to consume a decent, albeit late, dinner.  Justin Case we had brought some simple meals to prepare.  Baked beans and camping in a tent.  An excellent combination with lots of fuel for jokes & noises followed by little snickers as we drifted off.
All in all, the iPods and other tech we took along seemed to help the experience. It’s a different world these days from when I was a kid. Back then being disconnected meant no TV and being phoneless which really wasn’t a big deal since every time you left the house you were phoneless.  Remember the time before cellphones?  Nowadays the kids are so used to being connected all the time, that there were a few comments about the lack of internet and how they wish they had iPhones or some other smartphone so they could still check FaceBook and MSN, but the fact they could amuse themselves while they waited to go to the beach or while we were cooking/cleaning/hunting/gathering was a blessing.

At the end of it all, after the trip home and the unpacking is done, a great way to share all those photos is to use Dropbox. That way there is no need to hop back in the car to deliver a copy of them on disc or a thumbdrive or even more antiquated actual photographs printed on paper.  I also got a great video from that old friend of mine via  Cameras are so commonplace when it comes to vacationing that we don’t really give it a second glance and I think that iPods and portable gaming systems are heading the same way.

Tech is so ingrained in our lives. Embrace it. It’s going to be around a long long time.  And when it comes to camping, you can’t pack too much stuff.  (for my grand-niece – “That’s what she said“)

One final note.  It may be low tech but I am thankful for indoor plumbing. As much as I appreciate roughing it, having a toilet that flushes instead of a hole in the ground in a bug infested smelly little outhouse is a big plus. Thank you Sir John Harrington and Thomas Crapper, I tip my hat to you both.


  1. BRay says:

    Sorta Related but not really…

    My kids (step kids) went to stay at their dad’s last weekend. They asked if they could sleep in the tent in the backyard. This was all fine and dandy but the kids had one condition. They had to have a tv and a dvd player in the tent.

    Remember when we were kids? I’ll bet you never had a tv in your tent. I know I sure as hell didn’t.

    Just thought I’d share….


    • tcg says:

      that is a tad ridiculous. what was the answer to their request for the tv and dvd player? i can tell you what my reply would have been. a very straight forward No.

      you are right, when i was a kid you were lucky if you had a flashlight in your tent. That was about as high-tech as it got. Then again, TVs were either monster console units or so big and heavy you couldn’t carry it outside anyway.


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