Camping on Kawishiwi: Baby’s First BWCA Trip

August of 2020, we embarked on an adventure of great mystery. We had no idea what to expect, BWCA with a baby? Were we crazy? No… just ambitious. But ambition did not get the better of us. Through careful planning and thorough packing, we managed to have a very successful trek. Here’s how…

Why Kawishiwi?

When Scott and I decided to tackle a trek in the BWCA with our 10 month old son, Killian, we knew we had to be very picky about the location of our journey. I searched on maps, blogs, google,, etc. Finally, after a long while of picking through all of the information I could find, we landed on Kawishiwi. I had a few requirements, and this lake met them:

Launch at the Lake: The biggest draw to this lake was that there was no portage to the lake. That’s right, you can load your canoe right from your truck! That means no portaging with a baby. Ideally, we like to be farther away from civilization, but not with an infant in tow. The launch at the Kawishiwi access was perfect.

Smaller Lake: It’s not a tiny lake, but when you compare it to Brule or Sea Gull Lake, the lake is dwarfed. The wind will not pound as hard on this lake as it would on larger lakes with some similar attributes.

Numerous Camp Opportunities: Seven campsites are available on this lake, that is quite a few compared to many of the other lakes out there. It gave us a good chance at finding a campsite. Seven is still a small enough number to keep the lake from being crowded. There are 9 permits issued per day at this entry point. Don’t worry, a lot of folks use this lake as the start of a route; not a destination.

Backup Plan: If the campsites are all taken on this lake, there is a lake that offers two more opportunities to find a site. That is Square Lake, it’s just up a little creek from Kawishiwi. There is no portage between the two lakes, you simply follow the creek all the way to Square. However, you will need to pull your canoe over one beaver dam, not a difficult task when the water is at a good level. If you don’t need to camp on Square Lake, it makes for a great day trip.

Beach Campsite: We were fortunate enough to land a sweet campsite that was just off to the right of the entry point. It’s a lovely little beach site. Beach sites are perfect for kids! Our daughter, Sandy, and Killian spent most of the weekend on this beach. We weren’t at our campsite more than 30 minutes before they were playing in the water. Sandy has always been a beach baby!

Quick Exit: This isn’t something a lot of folks like to dwell on, and don’t let it hang over you and ruin your trip with worry. But in the event of an injury or illness, you’ll want to be able to make a quick exit. No fuss with portages or excessively long paddles. We haven’t had any injuries or illnesses occur in the BWCA, but while having a little one out there, I liked the idea of being able to get to assistance quickly.

One Drawback: There is one negative attribute about this lake that I feel I must mention. Kawishiwi Lake Rustic Campground is right on the lake. Those using this campground must have a self-issued day permit to enter the lake. These are available at the campground. It may be a blessing in disguise for some. If you are unable to land a site on the lake, you may be able to secure one at the campground. They do not take reservations and it is first come, first serve. Some may be put off by the traffic. Honestly, we didn’t really notice. I think those campers were looking for a quiet getaway just like the rest of us who seek the peace of the Boundary Waters.


So many things can affect the duration of a trip. Work, school, weather conditions and whatnot. If you are the type to make a long route that takes two weeks, you might wind up with a rough time. Take into consideration how much food and formula you’ll need to pack and diapers you’ll need to haul back out with you. It adds up.

Short and Sweet: We like to stay a bit longer, but with a new little adventurer, short and sweet was best. We stayed for two nights. Very short and oh so sweet. Keep in mind that this is an experiment. Testing the waters with your little one.

Leaving Early is Okay: If your first night is absolutely dreadful, spend the first part of the next day enjoying camp and then head out. We entered our adventure knowing that we could leave at anytime and that relieved a lot of pressure. Scott and I agreed that if we weren’t having a good time, we would pack it up and just have a nice weekend on the north shore. Knowing that you have an “out” takes a big weight off your shoulders. Two nights was plenty for a first introduction with an infant. In fact, we actually made our next trip with Killian a two night trip as well. Also perfect for a toddler on the move!

Packing for Baby

You might be thinking that babies require a lot of stuff, how are we going to bring everything!? It’s not as much as you think after you consider what’s actually necessary. There is a lot of baby camping gear out there. You don’t need it all, or any of it really. Just the necessities.

Clothing: The great thing about packing for your little one is that their clothes are tiny! They don’t take up much space, which is great because you’ll want to bring extras and a variety to accommodate for weather changes. Just like packing for yourself for a camping trip, dress them in layers. Pajamas should be warm. Even in the hot summer months, the nights up there can be quite cool. Our trip was August, but as you can see from pictures, Killian was in long sleeves much of the time. Summer months don’t guarantee warm weather.

Sleep Sack: We brought Killian’s sleep sack. He was used to sleeping with this and it was great for giving him some extra warmth. We had a lightweight fleece sleeping bag as a spare. This was folded in a way that it could not go over his head and most of it was under him to keep him from sleeping on the cold, hard ground. It worked quite well and he slept all night. When it’s cooler out, you might consider having your little one sleep with you in your sleeping bag. Just remember safe sleep tactics.

Pac & Play: You can bring one of you’d like, but I think this is a waste of space and energy. I don’t like brining extra gear if I don’t have to.

Diapers & Wipes: Bring a fresh package of wipes, you shouldn’t need more than that. Don’t go for the travel size, it would really stink to run out without a convenience store for at least 20 miles. So how many diapers? Figure out how many diapers your baby uses in an average day, and bring a whole extra days worth of diapers. You’re little one will likely be drinking more liquids than usual. I like to have extras in my vehicle as well, for a fresh change when you arrive back at your starting point.

Formula and Breast Milk: Formula is easy to bring, all you need to do is pack it in a sealable container that won’t bust open in your food pack. Breast milk would be simple enough, bring a small, soft sided cooler that fits in your food pack.

Hammock: Yes, a hammock. Hammocks are so perfect for naptime. Just don’t let your infant nap alone in the hammock. They could easily turn over or get tangled. Napping in the hammock is perfect bonding time with your baby. Be sure it has a mosquito net. Our hammock with built in mosquito net has been my favorite camping purchase so far!

Life Jacket: You’ll need an infant life jacket that is Coast Guard approved. Our favorite is the Full Throttle brand infant life jacket. It has majority of the floatation device on the front with a smaller piece around the neck. This keeps them face up if they fall into the water. It’s also less bulky around their middle, Killian was very comfortable in it and was able to wear it for hours at a time. Be sure to check the weight limits of your child’s life jacket before your trip.

Baby Hygene

Diapers: Now you know how many diapers to bring along. But where do you put them when after they are used? In your trash bag. Disposing of diapers and wipes in the latrine is not permitted in the Boundary Waters. Pack in, pack out. You’ll want to change your little on a changing pad, I didn’t bring one and regretted it. Killian wound up with dirt and debris in his diaper. When you go to bed at night or are away from camp, make sure you hang your trash bag up with your food pack. It’d be a real bummer to have to clean those diapers up twice if an animal got into them.

Cloth Diapers: Cloth diapers are great for at home. Not so great out in the BWCA. You will have a difficult time getting them clean enough. You might be thinking you’ll have plenty of water to wash them in. Nope. Washing is not allowed in these pristine waters. You must wash items 200 feet from in from any water source and burry the used water. No harsh cleaning supplies can be brought in. I would imagine cloth diapers would not be sanitary for long and your baby would end up with a rash. Disposable is the way to go, at least for this kind of trip.

Bathing: Like I had said, washing is not allowed in the lakes. If your are going to suds up your baby, it needs to be done 200 feet from shore and the water needs to be buried. The other option, is to take a dip in the water without soap. This is what we did. A little skinny dipping for a baby will wash them right up. With a beach campsite like we had, that was an easy task. As far as food on the face, we used baby wipes and tossed those in our trash bag.

Feeding Baby

Feeding your little adventurer is not a difficult task as it sounds. It’s just a matter of being prepared and knowing what to bring.

Formula: Formula was so simple to bring along. We brought a smaller square container along. It was more than we needed, I wanted to have extra. Little ones really work up an appetite when they are outdoors. Some babies are used to having their bottles heated up when they are fed, we didn’t do this with Killian. He always had room temperature formula. This played to our advantage, all we had to do was mix up a bottle without heating it. He was good to go. This is the only time that I have brought in bottled water to the BWCA. I felt ridiculous, but I didn’t want to risk parasites with an infant. Any leftovers need to be buried 200 feet away from water and away from camp.

Breastmilk: Though I didn’t experience this first hand, it seems quite doable. Pack your pre-frozen milk in a reliable, soft-sided cooler that fits in your food pack. To heat it up, place one package into a small pot of water over your camp stove. Easy peasy. And just like with formula, left overs need to be buried 200 feet away from water and away from camp. If you need to pump while out there, you’ll need a small portable pump that is battery or hand operated. I suggest using the fresh milk first as it won’t freeze all the way in your cooler.

Food Pouches: Food pouches are fantastic for the adventuring baby! Test out a few flavors beforehand and only bring the ones they like. Try to make them heartier types, protein packed. Depending on the age of your little one they might be eating most of what you are, food pouches are still a great way to make sure they are getting what they need out there. Bring a few more than you think you’ll need.

Solid Foods: If you have an older baby, you will probably want to pack some snack foods too. We brought teething husks, yogurt bites, and puffs. These were great little snacks, especially on our day trip to square lake.

Would We Do It Again?

This was an amazing trip. I would do it again in a heartbeat. My only regret is not getting our oldest out there sooner. She loves it up there too! Kawishiwi was the right decision for Killian’s first outing. We had a fantastic time out there. We were well stocked and lucked out with the perfect campsite. I know it doesn’t always end up like that, but truly a motivating experience to keep at it.

We received a few comments while planning and on our way in. Folks couldn’t believe we were attempting a trip with an infant. But it’s really not as daunting as it sounds. Plan you location, bring enough supplies, keep them fed, and you’ll have a very memorable trip with your baby.

If you are looking for further safety tips for camping with little ones click here.

Bonus: We saw a moose on our way out! It was Sandy’s first moose sighting. Unfortunately, Killian was sleeping. We were not about to wake him up, he earned that nap!

I’d love to hear about your trips with your babies! How did it go? Where did you go?

Don’t Rock the Canoe: Getting Babies & Toddlers on the Water

Being the Minnesotan that I am, one of my favorite activities is canoeing. Being in the Land of 10,000 Lakes, it makes sense! Any parent would understand that sharing your passions with your kids is priceless. But some of our passions are a little more difficult to accomplish with kids in tow. Difficult is not synonymous with “not worth it.” These tips will help you get your little adventurers out on the water with you.


Where there is a will, there is a way…. But you’ll need a few things first.


Duh. Obviously you need a canoe, you know that. But I have this listed because there are a few things to mention about your canoe. Check it out for any damage prior to use and if you haven’t used it in while check the tabs, make sure you are paddling legally. And as always, check for invasive species, be sure to clean your canoe before and after use. Both a solo and multi-person canoe will work just fine, the only difference is; where child should sit. We will go over child placement later on in this post.


When I was a kid, my parent bought me a small paddle to bring along in the canoe. Brilliant! It was a real wooden paddle, just smaller. It made me feel like part of the team, even at a young age. We still have this paddle, but it is now in my daughters possession. She loved being able to “help” while in the canoe. We found one for our son as well, now they each have their own. Sandy has outgrown hers, but I have started burning the names of the B.W.C.A. lakes that she has camped on onto the paddle. It has turned into a memorable keepsake. Killian still brings his along for the ride, it is great entertainment for them and gives them a job. Of course, this is optional, but it’s a great way to get them feeling part.


This is so important. Your child’s lifejacket should be the appropriate size, snug, comfortable, and Coast Guard approved. Getting the proper size is as simple as checking the weight limit and making sure that your child fits inside those guidelines. Getting it both snug and comfortable is a whole different animal. Yes, you need the straps snug. Don’t let your little one slip out of their lifejacket. They should have a leg strap if they are less than 50lbs. As far as comfort goes, having a t-shirt on under the lifejacket is really helpful. Even a thin swim shirt will do to keep the straps from rubbing. For the littler ones, having the floatation device in the front of them with a second on the neck is perfect and gives more breathing/wiggle room. Our Killian is very comfortable in his lifejacket, he even fell asleep in it. It’s a Full Throttle brand infant lifejacket. He wore it for his first two summers before outgrowing it.

***Important note: Puddle jumpers are not appropriate lifejackets out on the water. A pool at home or a hotel, sure. But not out on the lake or river. All your child has to do is put their arms up and the whole thing can slide off. I’ve seen too many videos of children in puddle jumpers out paddle boarding or kayaking with parents to not say something. It’s just not safe, please don’t do it.

Also, adults should be wearing their lifejackets too. Not only are you setting a good example, you are more able to assist your child in the event that something happens. You can’t help anyone if you are drowning yourself. I didn’t like wearing my lifejacket in the canoe, it’s not as comfortable to paddle. Now that I have kids of my own, I have it on every time I’m in our canoe. Funny how things change when you become a parent.


It is amazing how strong the sun can be in the summer. It’s rays are even stronger when you’re out on the water. Not only is it beating down on your little adventurers from above, it’s also reflecting off of the surface of the water. Be sure to lotion up before setting out on the water. An option that you might want to consider if you have an infant or a child with fair skin, is an umbrella. There are actually small umbrellas designed just for small boats and canoes. We purchased one for Killian’s first trip to the B.W.C.A. but didn’t actually use it. Our paddle in ended up being shorter than anticipated and cloudy later on, I was glad to have it just in case.

Feel the Heat

As we just went over, the summer can bring on the hot rays of the sun. Not only do you need to keep your baby’s skin protected from the rays, but from what the rays can do to the surfaces around them. Think about what happens to the sidewalk on a hot, sunny day. That same thing is going to happen to your canoe. If you have a thin canoe, it might not be so bad as the water may cool it from underneath. But my experience with our red Old Town canoe, is that even with a lighter interior she heats up quickly. Bring a towel or cushion to put on the bottom and rim of your canoe to protect your little one’s from a different kind of burn.

Snacks & Water

Snacks. I’m not kidding. Snacks are essential if you want success. You probably don’t need a ton if you are going out for only a half hour or so. But you’ll want to have some on hand just in case. I really like those apple sauce pouches for a quick fill, these can be sucked down fast if you’re trying to just get something in your hangry munchkin. Having some kind of snack that they can feed themselves slowly is helpful as well, such as pretzels or crackers. Bring an adequate supply of water or a good filter(when going into the wilderness), don’t let your kids drink the lake water. You don’t need anyone getting a parasite.


Bringing some entertainment out into the canoe with you is a great idea. And having those toys only for the canoe can turn them into high value toys. But keep this in mind; not all toys float. If your little paddler tosses a toy overboard and it sinks, that might be the end of a peaceful ride. Make sure the toys brought along float! Waterproof would be helpful as well. You might think that securing the toys to the canoe with a rope or string would be a good idea, but someone might get themselves tangled up in it. Let’s not do that.

Preparing your Baby

Introducing the Canoe

It’s not necessary to get your little adventurers out on the water the instant they see the canoe. Find a grassy area to place your canoe for your first introduction. Let them check it out, climb around in it, give them a paddle to play with. We didn’t worry so much about this part when Killian was an infant, but he loved it when he was a toddler. We got the hose out and he helped to wash the canoe and played in it for quite some time. Make it a fun experience.

Child Placement

This is something that you’ll have to play around with. Not every kid is the same. Some are easy going, some are finicky. You know your child the best. Obviously, you’ll want to hold your infant or have them placed comfortably in the bottom of the canoe within reach. It depends on their age. The more mobile munchkins will likely want to see what’s going on. When we paddled with Killian as an infant, we had our daughter Sandy along. She was 8 at the time and already had experience paddling. I sat in the middle of the canoe and tended to Killian while she and their dad, Scott, paddled us around.

For those busy toddlers, the best place for them is going to be close to you. My favorite was having Killian up front with me while Scott paddled. He could look around and see where we were going. But on longer excursions, you may have to improvise and do whatever it takes to safely make them comfortable. I’m not a fan of having a toddler in my lap while I am in a seat. Our canoe sits higher in the water and it seems too wobbly with that much weight and wiggling up there. When Killian wanted to sit on me, I sat on the bottom of the canoe and he sat on me then. It wasn’t the most comfortable, but we had a long paddle down a winding creek. We did what we had to do. Killian also liked to sit in the seat by himself, this was only allowed if I were right by him. Again, you may have to change positions while paddling. The best idea we had was putting the tent in front for him to sit on, he fell asleep while sitting up and leaning against my legs. So freaking cute, my littlest adventurer had had a very busy weekend.

A few things that should be avoided for safety should be noted. Your little one should be within reach, you may need to grab them quickly. If you are fishing, put the tackle behind you, so they cannot hook themselves or eat worms! Whether using a solo or multi-person canoe, having them sit on a raised seat without you immediately with them is not a good idea. They do not understand balance yet and can easily topple off the side. So if you are in a multi-person canoe and it’s just the two of you, they don’t need to be in a seat alone if you can’t reach them

***Important note: Do NOT strap your child into the canoe in any way. If your canoe flips they will be trapped under water. Do NOT strap your child to you. No baby carriers, wraps, or slings. If you go under water, so do they.

Short Trips

The best thing you can do when you go out for the first time is to find a quiet, low traffic spot with as little wind as possible. Stay close to your launch point. This will make it easy to cut the maiden voyage short if you need to. It’s best to keep this trip short. We have a little pond behind our house, this is the perfect spot for getting a little practice in.

Increase Duration

Once you’ve got a good first few experiences under their belt. It’s time to turn it up a notch. Add 15 to 20 minutes to your journey and see how they do. If it went well, maybe next time you can go a little longer. But, as we all know, toddlers can be fine with something one day, and hate it the next. Don’t get to discouraged if it doesn’t go well every time. And don’t forget those snacks!

The Real Deal

Well, you’ve got some practice. Your little one has had some experience in the canoe. Are you ready for your camping trip into the great wilderness? Maybe? If you have a three or four hour paddle planned for a trip, you don’t have to have your child out in the canoe for four hours before your trip takes place. We had Killian out a few times about half hour each before his second trip up there, he did just fine with a three and a half hour paddle. We did have to get creative in making him comfortable for such a long journey and change positions a few times. But we made it with no headaches. Keep snacks at the ready! And have fun!

Clove Lake: A Boundary Waters Beginner Lake

Check out Clove Lake to see if it’s the perfect lake to get your family out on your next camping adventure in the beautiful Boundary Waters Canoe Area in Minnesota.

So, you’ve decided to tackle a trek in the great Boundary Waters Canoe Area and Wilderness? That’s great! But where are you going? There are about 80 or so entry points to choose from. Finding the right lake can be a daunting task for a first timer. I was lucky enough to begin my adventures in the B.W.C.A as a kid, my parents made all of the plans for us! But now I’m the trip planner for my family, and I love it!!

Why Clove Lake?

If you are trying to gain the whole Boundary Waters experience in one go, Clove is probably the lake for you. This is the perfect lake to begin your Boundary Waters career! It’s a lake that you can return to again and again and never tire of it. We’ll go over what makes this lake so great, our experiences and a few pointer on getting out there.

Wide Variety of Scenery

I’m not kidding when I say this lake has it all. There is such a vast amount of different terrain in one area. There are beaver dams, marshes, rapids, large hill sides, a sandy beach, thick forest, rocky terrain and so much more. On one of our trips there had been a fire the year prior. The regrowth after that devastation was inspiring. It is a really great introduction into the Boundary Waters, with sites to make your jaw drop.

Easy Campsites

There are three camp sites on Clove Lake. One has a wonderful little beach that is perfect for younger kids to play on, it’s on the northern most bay of the lake on the U.S. side. My daughter, Sandy, had a blast at this campsite when she was 4! She spent 90% of the weekend on that beach during her first trip. We have also stayed on a campsite just off to the left as you enter the lake from Larch Creek. This one has a more rocky/boulder filled terrain. If you have older kids or are traveling with adults, this one has really pretty views. The best is at sunrise when the lake looks like glass. We have not stayed at the third campsite, but I’m sure it is just as breathtaking as the others, but it does look smaller.

Some may worry about getting a good campsite, or a campsite at all. This isn’t really a big concern for this location. Even though Clove only has 3 campsites, we have never had trouble landing one. With only one permit issued per day for the Larch Creek entry point, you don’t have to rush to get a site. And even if you have the misfortune of finding all sites taken, there are 3 more back on Larch Lake and one more just a portage away on the Pine River.


With this being a lower trafficked lake, the wildlife has been disturbed less. This makes for some unique encounters. On my husbands first trip with my family, he saw a moose swimming across the lake. What a sight to see on a first trip! On another occasion at this lake, my friend, Melissa, and I were paddling along the shore and witnessed a beaver give a warning smack with his tail on the water. That was such an incredible experience, it must have worked because we didn’t see any more beavers that day.

Some of our smaller critter encounters are quite comical. We brought our dog, Oreo, along for an adventure on several occasions. She sat and stared at the same red squirrel for hours. We have had a squirrel try to get into our food bag while we were sitting right by it in camp. Bold little buggers! At certain times of the year, there is an abundance of butterflies, they add a little whimsy to camp life.


If you have a fisherman in your camping party, this lake is a dream. My dad and brother are avid bass fisherman. Along with South Temperance, Clove is among my dad’s favorite B.W.C.A. lake. It is because of the amazing bass fishing on this lake. My dad saw the largest small mouth bass that he has ever seen on this lake. He has returned to this lake time and time again, particularly in June, for the fishing.


Like I had mentioned earlier, Larch Creek (entry point 80), only allows 1 party to enter per day. This is a huge factor in keeping this area quiet. If you are searching for solitude without a long voyage in, this is the prime spot for you. You won’t have other paddlers cruising along in front of your campsite all day and there will be no waiting for the perfect fishing spot. Even though it is a small lake, the campsites are spread out enough that you won’t even notice them. Solitude is hard to find, but not on this lake.

Our Experiences

Obviously we have a thing or two to say about this lake. It has left an impact on our family and we are rather fond of it. I’ll share some of our experiences with you, so you can see why we are so attached.

Our First Timers

We have had several members of our family make this their maiden voyage. Among them; my husband (Scott), daughter (Sandy), friend (Melissa), and one of my nephews. When our son, Killian, is a couple of years older he’ll go to this lake too. It won’t be his first trip, but he should experience it all the same.

Repeat Trips

My dad has made the trip back to that lake 5 times now, it’s about to be 6, in order to share this amazing lake with all of us. His hope is to bring two of his grandchildren along who have not yet experienced Clove. I’ve been to this lake 3 times, once each with Scott, Melissa, then Sandy. It hasn’t been everyone’s first trip, but so many of us have experienced it thanks to my dad. My brother is actually taking his family to Clove Lake as I compose this post.

Day Trips

When we camp at this lake, we use it as a base camp. Others use it as part of a route. We like the base camp method as it leaves more time for adventuring the area and less time packing, tearing down and setting up. With that said, there are some good day trips from this location. One in particular that I would like to mention is on the Pine River. A short portage on the east side of the lake leads to the Pine River. We paddled south a short ways to a falls, it’s on the east side of the river. There is a small area to tie your canoe off, so you can get out and explore. After hiking along the rapids up a ways, there is a marker that marks the U.S. and Canadian border. That’s a pretty fun find for a four year old! The falls is pretty neat and worth the trip to it. You can also go a little farther down for a good swimming spot. Wear your life jackets!

Navigating Larch Creek & Clove Lake

When you choose Clove Lake, you are not just choosing a destination but a journey as well. I wouldn’t say that it’s a hop, skip and a jump to get to Clove from the Larch Creek entry point. It’s more like a beaver dam, a log, and a portage.


The launch point is right off of the road with a rather small space to park your vehicle. Good thing there is only one permit per day! The great news is that you put your canoe into the water and load up right by the truck. The bad news is that you will need bug spray immediately. It’s pretty thick vegetation and a little creek means bugs galore. It’s not so bad once you get moving, but while loading up, definitely have the bug spray ready.

The Creek

This is one of the highlights for me. You are immersing yourself farther into the wilderness with each stroke of your paddle. The creek is so calm and serene. It is not a race, so enjoy the paddle in. The creek has a multitude of twists and turns to navigate around. Keep an eye out for turtles! They can be seen basking on a log here and there.

Beaver Dams

Along the way to Larch Lake there are several beaver dams, I hope you packed your muscles. The only way around these is to pull the canoe over it. There are no places to put gear, so your canoe will be fully loaded when you pull it over. It’s really not as hard as it sounds once you get the hang of it. And when the water is higher, it’s a breeze! A note of caution: Be careful when stepping on the dams, on the downstream side there will be a significant drop off. My brother-in-law, Jon, experience this first hand and got very wet!


There is one short portage going from Larch Lake to Clove Lake. It’s pretty rocky, but not nearly as tough of a portage as some of the others in the BWCA. After paddling down that long and winding creek, you’ll be thankful for a chance to stand up and stretch your legs. It also gives you a chance to refuel with a snack and wet your whistle.

Book Early

I know I’ve mentioned this a few times already, but once again, there is only 1 entry permit granted per day at Entry Point 80, Larch Creek. Book this entry point early if you have a specific date that you need to enter on. This one fills up fast. On our last trip up to the Boundary Waters we had to choose a different lake. Which I’m okay with, we like to try new places. If your dates are flexible that makes it easier, but you’ll still want to stay on top of this one. Check out “Why Plan Your Summer BWCA Trip in January

As you can see, this lake has a lot of potential for great memories on your next adventure. It hasn’t let us down yet! If you choose this lake as your first destination in the B.W.C.A. you won’t be disappointed. Happy camping!

Safety Tips for Toddlers in the Wilderness

Camping with your kids is such a rewarding experience! Keeping those munchkins safe while adventuring is key for a fun memorable experience.

Bringing our kids on new adventures is such a rewarding experience! Watching them discover the wilderness is so neat. But you don’t want that heartwarming experience to turn into disaster. Here are some tips to keep your grand adventure from turning into a nightmare.

Life Jackets

First things first: Puddle Jumpers are not life Jackets. Sure, they are great for swimming at the pool or in the lake at Grandpa’s house. But they are not for the Boundary Waters. Leave them at home!

Now that that is out of the way, there are a few things that you’ll want to consider when choosing a life jacket for your kiddos.

Reliable: You need to have a life jacket that is reliable. Be sure to find one that is Coast Guard approved.

Size & Fit: Make sure that you have the proper weight limit and sizing to your child. If the life jacket is too small, they’ll sink. If it’s too big, they could slip out. Children under 50 pounds should have a leg strap and all straps should be snug.

Comfort: Your child’s life jacket should be comfortable. They’ll need to have it on for quite a while. I like the infant life jacket that has the floatation device in the front, it keeps them afloat with their face up and gives breathing room in the back. Killian was so comfortable in his life jacket that he fell asleep in the canoe on his second trip in!

We follow two rules in the Boundary Waters when it comes to life jackets. These are for everyone, not just kids.

#1: If you are in the canoe, your life jacket is on. Even the most experienced paddler can flip a canoe.

#2: If you are in the water, your life jacket is on. Even if you are just swimming at your campsite, these are dark and unfamiliar waters. There may be currents that can be easily misjudged. It is very uneven and rocky under the surface. One minute you are in two feet of water and the next you’re in 20 feet. Yes, it can change that drastically.

Drinking Water

This is a pretty important aspect of camping farther away from civilization. At most camp grounds there are water stations, so that’s not a huge issue. But in the Boundary Waters or while backpacking, you will need a reliable water purification system. I recommend bringing two different types. Just in case. Some of these include:

  • Iodine Tablets
  • Ultraviolet device
  • Water Filtration pump
  • LifeStraw

Our family usually brings the Iodine Tablets and a water pump. Even if you are collecting your water from a moving source, like a river or stream, you still need to treat it. We have had a camper get sick in the past. Whether you are using the water for cooking dinner, heating up a bottle for the little one, or just quenching your thirst, the water needs to be treated.


We have seen all kinds of wildlife out there, our daughter has been to the Boundary Waters 5 times and has seen 2 moose already. It’s one thing to see a critter in the zoo, it’s a completely different experience to witness an animal in their natural habitat doing what they do. These are amazing experiences that will stick with them for a lifetime. But, as parents, we need to do our best to keep these experiences safe.

Rule #1: Do not feed the wildlife. That means clean up your camp really well. Any and all scraps, diapers, bottles, formula, medications, literally anything with a scent is in a bag that is hung from a tree at night or while you are away from camp

Rule #2: Do not bring or use scented lotions on yourself or your munchkins. Do not season yourselves. See Rule #1.

Rule #3: Scare off any bears. Do not let them get too close and don’t run. If a bear wonders into your campsite, just act big and be loud. Do not chase them. If you’ve been to the Boundary waters in the past, then you’ll for sure remember that wonderful video we all have to watch before entering. I’ve had so many Boundary Waters adventures and have yet to have a face-to-face encounter with a bear. Don’t worry too much, these encounters are rare.

Rule #4: Keep your babies close. If you are hiking or exploring around the woods, your little ones should be right with you. If they are out in front of you leading the way, they are too far. You should be able to grab them before anything else does.

Rule #5: We are guests. Remember that this is their domain, we are just visitors. Clean up after yourselves and keep your distance.


What is there to worry about with sleep? It’s pretty straight forward… Well there are a couple of things to think about, but it’s pretty much common sense.

Temperature: Depending on the time of year you plan your adventure be sure to pack warm enough sleep attire. Our last trip was at the beginning of June. The forecast looked pretty hot, but we still had a pretty cold night. Bring warm jammies for your little guys. And dress them in layers. If you are planning a trip in the fall, you might even want them to have a hat on, we lose a lot of heat through our heads.

Sleeping Bags: You can go out and buy super spendy infant/toddler sleeping bag. But odds are, they will grow out of it in about two seconds or end up in your sleeping bag anyway. I prefer that Killian sleeps in my sleeping bag with me. If your little one ends up in your sleeping bag it’s easier for you to monitor their body temp and keep them warm with your body heat.

Air Mattresses: My husband and I do not bring an air mattress along just yet, we do however bring sleep mats. I feel so old admitting that. But lets face it, we all get sore after sleeping on a root all night. Even though we don’t use an air mattress there are a couple of things that I believe are worth mentioning. Air mattresses are bouncy and somewhat unstable, if you have a little one sleeping with you be careful not roll over on them. Also, if you have an infant along, be sure they are not sleeping on their tummy, the risk of suffocating would be higher in that setting.

Hammocks: Safe sleep is still something we need to keep in mind while in the woods. Keep your infants and toddlers sleeping on their backs in the hammock and don’t let them sleep alone. They could get tangled up so easily in there. And napping with them is great bonding time out there. Safe and sweet! The hammock that we purchased last summer for Killian’s first trip was the best purchase! I highly recommend bringing a hammock along, they are fantastic for naptime in the wilderness. Be sure to find one with a mosquito net!

Tent Zipper: When closing into the tent for the night, place the closed zippers at the uppermost point of the tent door. Tents are different, if your tent doesn’t allow this option, you may want to bring along a clip or something to secure the zippers closed. I am a pretty light sleeper while camping, but just in case this tip can keep the zippers out of reach and your toddlers from wondering off in the night. We recently used this method while camping in Florida, it’s the first time it was a concern with our on-the-go little guy.


Communication is key!! Odds are you won’t be tackling this grand adventure on your own and will have other adults along. Use them! But be sure that all adults know who has who. For example: My husband, Scott, and I were going to do dishes. Killian wanted to go toss more rocks into the water, my mom announced, “I’ve got Killian,” before heading to the shoreline with him. So all adults knew which adult had the toddler and where they were going to be. This will eliminate the “I thought you had him?” “No, I thought you had him” dilemma, and keep your baby safe.


EYES ON AT ALL TIMES! I am not exaggerating. There needs to be an adult with your infant/toddler 100% of the time. Having more adults along is really helpful with this aspect of the journey. I understand that it’s really hard to watch a curious and/or hungry toddler while trying to cook dinner on the camp stove. There are a few things we found that really help.

Tip #1: Have them help. Kids love to help! (Until they are teenagers) Of course you don’t want them running around a fire or tripping into a camp stove. But having them bring things to another person can make them feel like they are contributing. “Bring the sporks to Grandma, she needs them!” Giving them a job is better than them finding a job on their own!

Tip #2: Hide things. This can be a fun and safe little game as long as it’s played in a specific area. While we were cooking or preparing things in camp we would hide Killian’s little bear and moose toys. Killian is pretty little, so we mostly hid them in the same spot under a pile of leaves and pine needles. We kept his hiding spot in the middle of the action, so eyes were on him constantly. This entertained him for so long, it was great!

Tip#3: Keep them close. Keep the distance between you and your little one short. Scott was really thankful that he did just that while exploring the waters edge with Killian. Killian was putting his hands in the water when Scott had noticed a fish jump. Right when Scott looked back at Killian, a huge snapping turtle was coming out of the water after Killian. Who knew a snapper would be so bold! Scott was right there to grab Killian out of the way. Killian kept his fingers, but that turtle hung around for a while.

I hope these safety tips help you on your next excursion with your little adventurers. We are always learning and these tips were derived from my own experiences in the great outdoors. It’s not exactly a walk in the park, but it’s so worth it!