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September 23, 2011 7:50 PM   Subscribe

Camping with a 4 year old in an unheated cabin when over night low is 37 F?

My 4 year old daughter and I are going to our cabin tomorrow to spend the day. Would it be irresponsible to camp out there for the night when the overnight low is supposed to be 37? We did 2 weeks ago but the overnight was like maybe 50-55F...which I felt okay about.

We have plenty of sleeping bags and blankets and such. I am actually not too worried about her being cold...I am more just wondering what the consensus is. Am I a neglectful monster for even considering it? Or is it totally legit?
posted by ian1977 to Home & Garden (21 answers total)
Totally legit. Sleep near her so you can help her get covered again if she wriggles out and is cold in her sleep.
You'll probably be checking her every half hour even if you don't remember it.
posted by Seamus at 7:54 PM on September 23, 2011

When I was four, I was totally campIng, in a tent, at those temperatures. My cousin did his first snow camping overnight when he was four.

A structure will be a good bit warmer. With a good sleeping bag you (and she) will be fine.

Have a mug of cocoa for her when she gets up.
posted by rockindata at 7:54 PM on September 23, 2011

do you have electricity and a space heater?
posted by changeling at 7:55 PM on September 23, 2011

No, no, no, you're not crazy. It sounds like warm, cuddly fun. Just stay close to each other. Bring a thermometer and make watching the temp drop as evening comes on a "teachable moment." And check it again when you awake.
posted by BlahLaLa at 7:55 PM on September 23, 2011

Response by poster: changeling...really? :P
posted by ian1977 at 7:56 PM on September 23, 2011 [4 favorites]

Best answer: I'm sure you'll be fine :)
posted by changeling at 7:57 PM on September 23, 2011

Response by poster: 4/4. I'm sold! Awesome. I knew it was fine I just needed the best strangers on the internet to confirm. Now I have a clear conscience. ! You are my moral compass!

posted by ian1977 at 8:01 PM on September 23, 2011 [2 favorites]

Try to have her wear a warm hat to bed. I raised my kids in a frigid climate in a drafty old house. When it was really bad we all wore hats to bed and we stayed healthy.
posted by mareli at 8:08 PM on September 23, 2011 [10 favorites]

Yes, a hat!

I've done A LOT of expedition camping in cold(er) climates and I have much expensive gear and I STILL feel uncomfortable at times.

A hat changes all that.

Also, a "sheet sleeve" inside her sleeping bag will rock (don't ask me why, I think it helps with condensation between hot body + cold air) and sleeping close together.

Good luck to you! We'll be taking our 5 month old camping pretty soon, too. Update via memail if there is anything you learn that I should know:)

posted by jbenben at 8:24 PM on September 23, 2011

Agreed that a hat is a good idea. People lose heat through their heads. Hats help keep it in.
posted by dfriedman at 8:28 PM on September 23, 2011

I have a cabin that I have stayed in with children around 10 years old when the outside temp was closer to 10 degrees F and we thrived. It was a great adventure for the kids. Wore fleece hats to bed. The kids were hot overnight. Two of them were on top of their covers at morning light. (I was friggin freezing!) I think we had grilled cheese and soup for breakfast to warm up. Hot chocolate too.

If it gets to be too much, you can always get in your car to warm up, right?
posted by JohnnyGunn at 8:45 PM on September 23, 2011

Uh, my dad took me winter camping (snowshoe into the middle of the woods, sleep in a tent, pee in the snow, etc.) when I was a little kid. I think the tyke'll be fine in a cabin.
posted by misanthropicsarah at 8:50 PM on September 23, 2011

Definitely a cute warm hat.
posted by bendy at 9:18 PM on September 23, 2011

If you have the sort of sleeping bags that you can zip together, or if you've got a bag big enough to fit the two of you, you could do that, too.

Also, consider taking mittens in addition to a hat--when I used to camp, I'd often end up with my hands up by my face, not in the sleeping bag, and would wake up with cold, cold paws.

Sounds like a fun trip!
posted by MeghanC at 9:48 PM on September 23, 2011

You're fine. When I was growing up, my dad fancied himself a rustic sort that didn't need central heat so we had a woodstove and slept by it on nights much colder than that. Make sure she has warm clothes to sleep in (preferably a selection she can layer/remove if she gets hot). You'll find we humans have a great instinct for "Holy crap, I'm cold" even when we're asleep, she's not going to tumble out of her bag and lay there freezing.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 9:51 PM on September 23, 2011 [1 favorite]

You are fine. In Minnesota that's just called camping weather. And we'll sleep outdoors.
posted by sanka at 10:57 PM on September 23, 2011 [1 favorite]

If you're still worried about the cold, thermals will definitely keep her warm. When I was a kid, they helped me stay toasty when I went camping (in a not-great tent in 30-degree weather...).
posted by spiderskull at 11:17 PM on September 23, 2011

if you bring some extra sheets, you could build a sheet-fort inside the cabin to sleep in for extra warmth (and fun!)
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 11:29 PM on September 23, 2011

I have done some fairly extreme winter camping, including in the arctic in Feb.

One really good trick to staying warm is: boil water and put the water in a nalgene bottle (or other water bottle that won't melt). Then put the water bottle inside a winter sock. Then put that inside the other winter sock. Then stick the whole thing in your sleeping (or bed).

It will act like a little radiator, and keep the bed nice and toasty. If you toss it in your sleeping bag a half hour before you get in, then you will get into a warm bed. Which is nice.
posted by Flood at 4:26 AM on September 24, 2011 [1 favorite]

A brief aside - - the belief that we lose most of our body heat through our heads has been debunked.

(Though that still doesn't stop me from wearing a hat when I'm winter camping. ;) )
posted by fairmettle at 5:08 AM on September 24, 2011

Have plans for a hot, yummy breakfast. Campfire french toast is a favorite of mine on cold mornings, but you can make oatmeal or pancakes or bacon.

Long time camper here. Not a mom, and I don't camp with kids, but can I make a sort of paranoid suggestion?

Bring extra food and water. In the terrible event that something happens and the two of you are stuck out there together for longer than expected, some extra granola bars and beef jerky will be a joy.

Also, for kids, an extra super fun part of camping can be "get to eat some of the crap foods we don't eat at home." So they're extra impressed when there's a whole box of crap food, instead of just a little bit. Double win!
posted by bilabial at 5:57 AM on September 24, 2011 [1 favorite]

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