I was always a tent camping elitist. I saw those people in their campers at the campground and thought, “That’s not camping!” I also spent years as a backcountry guide, where the only gear you had to camp with was in in your backpack. Things changed when I had kids. As you may have read, I went from minimalist camper to bringing it ALL when tent camping with kids. Camping with toddlers and babies is essentially recreating a cabin in the campsite. That’s why, when KOA Campgrounds in NH approached me with the opportunity to stay in a rental RV at the Strafford/Lake Winnipesaukee South KOA, I jumped on it. Why not see what I’m missing? My husband and I packed up our one and three year olds along with a small cooler of food, some clothing, and hit the road.
First, I was psyched how close this place was to my house. From Rochester/Dover, it was less than a 20 minute drive. It is crucial to stay close when camping with little ones in case you need to get home in a hurry.
From the moment we drove in the gate, I could tell this place was the perfect family getaway. Families in the pool, kids in the water park, paddle boats putting around the pond, families fishing on the shore, and kids biking. Checking in, I discovered there was a general store, arcade, and laundry on site. Additionally, there were playgrounds, and daily entertainment calendar. What fun!
We were all so excited to see the RV. Our site was clean and semi-private – especially for RV park standards. The inside of the RV was great! A bunk bed made of two full beds plus another queen bed for sleeping (also a pull out couch bed if you need more). Kitchen amenities included microwave, fridge/freezer, stove, oven, sink, and dining area. In the bathroom, we had a tub shower, toilet, and sink. Maybe the best part of all is that we didn’t need to bring ANY gear! Half of the headache of tent camping is packing all the stuff. The RV was equipped with made beds, towels, dishes/cookware, and even a little gift basket of a s’mores kit. My three year old was so excited that he helped me video a tour for the Seacoast Moms IGTV — Check it out!
Fun with Family
The afternoon activities for my toddler and preschooler consisted of bike riding, playground, beach, pool, splash pad, and a wagon ride pulled by a tractor. My husband made the traditional camp meal of hot dogs and baked beans. After s’mores, dad and son went to check out the evening’s entertainment – high energy juggler Jason Tardy while I put our one year old to bed. By 8 pm both kids were asleep! The excitement and entertainment of the day completely wiped them out – even in a new environment. My husband and I enjoyed a good night sleep as well.
In the morning, we enjoyed more playground fun, played soccer, walked the ponds shoreline before packing up and checking out. Just down the road was one of our favorite local hikes – Blue Job Mountain – which we summited before heading home. We had a wonderful experience at the Strafford KOA Campground.
The Best Part
Camping in this RV rental in NH is a perfect opportunity for someone who wants to try out camping in an RV before buying. It’s also perfect for someone, like me, who doesn’t want the hassle of the upkeep of a camper or the fuss of packing all the gear. For me, there were a couple clear advantages of the RV to my usual family tent camping experience:
- Location – The Strafford KOA campground in NH was close enough to home that when the kids were in bed at 8 pm, my husband drove home to get the cribbage board. Even though it was close, we really felt like we “got away” for the weekend. It was the best of both worlds.
- Noise – My least favorite part of tent camping with small children is campground noise. My kids go to bed early, and quiet hours usually start between 10-11 pm. The RV solved that. Not only do the walls provide a sound barrier, but we had the AC on low and couldn’t even hear the group of six in the next site over. What’s more, when my kids woke up at their usual 5 am, I didn’t have to worry about them waking the entire campground.
- Toilet – The worst part of tent camping is when you have to pee in the middle of the night. Problem solved!
I’ll Be Back
My family had a great time at the Strafford/Lake Winnipesaukee South KOA. The tent camping elitist in me is dead (at least for now). We still spent the weekend outdoors, cooking s’mores by campfire, and making new memories that we will cherish for years. We just did it all more comfortably — I can’t wait to go back.