Camping with kids, Canoe trips

Packing Toys for a Canoe Trip

May 25, 2016

We recently took a 5 day canoe trip to prepare and plan for our 50 day canoe trip this summer. One of my packing questions was what toys to bring for the kids?

Do we bring new toys that they haven’t grown bored of yet, but which are untested?  Or do we bring the well used favourites?

On this 5 day canoe trip I let the kids pack their own toys. Two year old Chuck filled his backpack with small cars and trucks.  It seemed a little excessive so when he wasn’t looking I dumped out 2/3 of the vehicles and added a kazoo and a slinky for diversity.

Three year old Molly brought an empty backpack for “all the treasures” she would find.  Then she stuffed in a lot of random toys with her clothes, including a sticker book, Groovy Girls, Barbie, My Little Ponies and a fairy wand.

So what got used? The answer is very little.

We beachcombed for shells, beach glass and pretty rocks. When Molly’s backpack was full we used the collected items to make “beach art”.


We had scavenger hunts and played hide and seek. The kids made driftwood forts, houses, fences, schools and hospitals.  We made up a story with small pieces of driftwood as the characters and played it over & over & over again.  We found a tire on the beach and chased it up and down the beach one evening.  The next evening the kids rolled logs.


The kids also enjoyed the work of camping.  They helped carry the camping gear up the beach from the canoe in the afternoons and back down the beach to the canoe in the mornings. When there was nothing small enough for them to carry they busied themselves with their made up games.

At the end of the trip when we again had to pack our gear over a mud flat at low tide the kids had fun catching crabs. They both had fists full of the small crabs and were as excited on day 5 as they had been on day 1.


Did I answer my question? No, but maybe a little.  We don’t need toys on beautiful sunny days when we are in new and interesting places.  We will still bring toys and books for days we are tent bound by rain or wind, or both.

We will keep the toys minimal.  We will play outside with all the treasures of the environment as much as possible because that is what they really want to do.



Comments (4)

  • Jenn @youpinspireme Reply

    May 25, 2016 at 11:28 am

    Wow – that’s brave, canoe camping with little ones!

    • sarahcarty Reply

      May 25, 2016 at 7:23 pm

      Thanks Jenn. We’re trying to get back to doing what we loved before we had kids. So far the kids are in to it. Our theory was to introduce them young!

  • Katie Reply

    April 24, 2019 at 6:57 pm

    I really enjoy your posts! I know some of them are from a while ago, but are super inspiring. We are a family with 5 little girls -all under 7 :), and when we just had the older 4 my husband and I went on a month long bike trip across Central Florida. 2 bikes, 4 kids, a 3-person tent, and lots of diapers. We had to watch our weight as we had to carry everything on our bikes! But as for toys, each girl got to bring a little notebook and pen (which they filled with great drawings of their adventures), a picture book (for nighttime reading) and a little drawstring bag that they collected with ‘treasures’ that they found (bottlecaps, pretty stones, sticks, a domino, whatever), and really they never really cared they didn’t have any ‘toys’. They played with each other, in the dirt, picked flowers galore, and made stick creations. It was wonderful. They loved it. That month was one of the hardest but best memories with our family so far. We can’t wait to do something like it again. We live on the East Coast of Canada (PEI currently) and this summer want to do some more extended trips. This time with 5 kids! If you have any more tips for camping and especially canoeing with kids (canoeing isn’t something we have done yet with the kids, but would love to!), that would be wonderful! Would you mind if i shared your blog on our website ? We are trying to inspire other families to get out with their kids, and we would love to share your families adventures! Thanks again, and keep exploring and adventuring with your kids!

    • sarahcarty Reply

      May 17, 2019 at 6:17 pm

      Thanks Katie. I follow your page too. I love that there are other families out there who have the same interests. Maybe one day we’ll get all the way across the country and look you up in PEI. I haven’t been there since I was a kid, but I remember loving it. I hope you have a great long weekend! Sarah

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