A camping trip, along with all of its excitement, is one of the best ways to get to know your family. It is fun as you’ll be able to see some amazing things, do something together, but also meet some parts of the wildlife. This is an especially nice option if you have kids younger than 16.
Yes, we know – it can take some time – and effort – to get them to say yes to the trip, but once you do it, it is time to start planning and packing. No matter how experienced a camper and hiker you are, doing it with your kids involved means everything will be different than if you do it alone or with your grown-up friends. So, it is a good idea to have some “heads up” before you hit the road. This article will answer all your questions on the “how to camp with the kids” topic and help you prepare for your trip and enjoy it the most as possible.
How To Camp With Kids
Practice Before You Go
Yes, we’re not kidding – the best thing to do before you move on to your campsite is to set up the tent in your backyard. Or, if your backyard is not big enough, in your house. Your kids would probably be excited and ask you to sleep in it. And guess what? You should not just let them, but encourage them to do it! They’ll need the chance to get to know their new “home” for the next few days or weeks, to get comfortable being in it, and to learn some basic things before you decide it is time to start your engines.
You could also bring your family to a daily camping trip near your house ahead of the real one. Think of it as a “test drive”. Choose someplace you know – like a park, or lake, and observe their reaction. Once you return home, make a note as a reminder what do you have to add and change for your big trip.
Preparation Tips And Ideas
First of all, make sure you’ve shown enough positive energy and enthusiasm about the trip, to motivate your kids to feel the same and look forward to it. During the planning part, while writing down all the things they’d like to see or do, ask them for their opinion and ideas. Don’t ignore it, listen to them, and try to fulfill their wishes as much as you can.
When the time comes for packing, share the responsibilities. Create the list, but let them pack their camping gear by themselves. Before you go, check if they’ve packed everything. When it comes to their items and things they want to bring, everyone should have their bag or backpack, and teach them to return the items they don’t use to backpack. If they want to bring their favorite toy, let them. It will help them accommodate and start to feel good on your camping trip faster. If you plan on bringing bikes, make sure there is a place you could use them before you pack them.
Check The Rules
Before your trip, research the place or call the park management to learn the rules and restrictions. If you plan on having a campfire, make sure they are allowed. Ask about any possible law restrictions or places to avoid. Then let your family know firstly to avoid possible problems, but also to avoid disappointment if they expect it.
When You Arrive
Keep the positive spirits high. Believe us, you’ll need it! Remember, camping means your kids will be out of their “comfort zone”, everything will be different, and there will be lots of things to adapt and learn, so there could be a bit of difficulty. You’ll need lots of nerves and patience, but the best thing to do is to lead with your example.
Try to maintain things organized – from the place where the spoons and forks are, to all the others, like responsibilities while setting up the camp. Remind everyone about their tasks and to always return items after usage to their place.
Whatever you do, make sure your kids are involved. This will make them feel important and useful. Have them get the firewood, if the fire is allowed, or bring the water from the pump, and praise them when they do it.
Orientation And Safety Tips
One of the worst nightmares every parent has is about their child getting lost or missing. That’s why, as soon as you get to the campsite, make everyone memorize the number of your campsite or some kind of landmark near it. If there is a map, print it and give it to everyone, with your camp place marked. Buy them a compass, a whistle, and learn them how to use a flashlight or a headlamp, just in case. Attach a lanyard to the whistle and the light, then add them to the belt loops. When it comes to using the whistle, the best way to use it is to find your signal, learn it, and make your kids blow it every time they become separated from you.
Make gathering the information about wildlife activity your first task once you get to the camping site. Learn as much as you can, like what to do if you run into local species, and ask for a recommendation on how to properly store your food to avoid unwanted guests. When you return to your family, inform them, and speak about all the possible things that could happen. Educate your kids about wildlife, tell them why it is wrong to feed the animals and show them the proper way of treating nature and wildlife.
What To Do When Outdoor
The main thing that makes camping so fun is the fact that you’ll be spending most of the time out, in nature. And while you’re there, you could do your best to make the most out of the opportunity. Look for wild animals, but don’t spend all of your time on them. Believe it or not, woods, national parks, lakes… have really interesting bug species, so you could search for them. Look around for the rocks, if you find something interesting, examine it. Do the same with the flowers, trees, and try to identify birds. Whatever you choose to do, don’t ignore your kids. Answer to every question, show interest in their opinion and what they find attractive. If you have a chance, you could bring someone to guide and help you with the information.
Of course, you should show interest, but don’t be too pushy. And don’t force your kids upon a strict schedule or activity. Let nature do its work – every new activity for your small ones is a great benefit.
If your camping site falls under the “state or national park” category, there will probably be ranger talks during the evening, which could end up being interesting. And there probably are some programs or educations dedicated to kids. Some parks even have modern versions of “treasure hunt”.
What To Bring For Fun
You could get some board games like Dixit, Werewolf, Mafia, Hanabi, Settlers of Catan or something similar, but also it is a good idea to check something other than them, to provide physical activity besides the mental one:
– Paddleball set – this set can provide you hours of fun. If you don’t know the rules, make them up with the help of your kids, and play by them.
– Flying kites or discs, basically any flying toy can be a total hit, plus it could help your kid become more interested in physics and flying.
– Water toys are a great and fun choice if you’re out on a trip during the hot summer days. Lots of laughter and an easy way to cool off, but be careful – not everyone loves to get wet away from the shower or beach.
– “Pass the Pigs”, “Why Knot”… You name it! Don’t be afraid to get creative. As long as it is fun, you’re not wrong. And don’t worry, the learning part will come by itself.
– Books with scary stories for kids are a good idea. Although scary stories may not be everyone’s favorite thing, there is something pretty cool about telling them while sitting in front of the campfire.
Leave The Anxiety Behind
If you’re the nervous type of person, this is a great opportunity to try to change that. If you’ve started your trip without any plans and want to risk your luck, be prepared for a bit larger outcome. Once you get to the campsite, remember – and teach your kids – the goal is not to be the best or to create pressure on yourself but to learn something new and create beautiful memories. If you don’t get the place you’ve wanted, don’t freak out. Use the most out of the situation and concentrate on a positive aspect. There are many, just let them take over.
What To Do If The Kids Start To Complain
Having kids probably means you’ll have a “meeting” with tons of complaints, like “My legs hurt”, etc. Before you lose your mind, try to understand – they have a lot less strength than you, and they also most likely respond to the first unpleasant feeling, so it is not surprising they react like that. But there is something you could do. When they start to complain, you could bring out the snacks and make a short break. Once you get back on the road, start singing songs together, as it will attract their attention and make them forget about any possible problems or weaknesses. Also, seeing something interesting will help, along with some story to follow it up.
Ask For Help
As stated above, most of the parks have rangers who will be more than willing and happy to help you with anything. Don’t be shy, if you don’t know what to do or couldn’t find any valuable information about that place, rangers will gladly help you organize and answer all your questions. Also, talking to a local ranger will most likely hold your kid’s attention during the stories about nature. They are friendly by nature, and they have hundreds of interesting facts, information, advice, and stories to share with you and your small ones. Another good thing that could come up from talking to the rangers is possible suggestions about some activity or thing to see that is not so popular worldwide, but it will help you and your kids understand that place and its history better.
Let The Time Do Its Work
If something doesn’t go the way you’ve hoped it would don’t hit your head just yet. Let the time and experience do their work. No matter how bad or clumsy the start looks, by the end of the “road”, you’d probably be more than thrilled when you see how well your kids have learned what to do. And it will just get easier and easier from that moment on.
The benefits are great. Not only your kids will have a lot of physical activity, you’ll get the chance to meet them in a different environment, and this way you’ll learn something new about them, while they’ll also learn something new about you. Not many activities provide so good opportunity to bond with someone like traveling does. Camping requires lots of creativity, but it also provides an amazing amount of laughter, unforgettable memories – especially if you run into some wild animal somewhere along the way – and many other things that will live within your family until the rest of your life. It also means there will probably be a few tears while you pack your bags and head back home, but let that be just another big motive to organize the next trip sooner rather than later.
Respect Nature And Other People
While you’re camping with your kids, you have the chance to teach them how to respect nature. It means taking their trash with them and throwing it away in a proper place, cleaning after themselves, but also not to destroy anything on the way. If they see something they like, teach them how to enjoy it properly. If they see baby animals, teach them not to touch (unless professionals or rangers tell you it is allowed), but to observe and admire from a distance. Teach them the values of the trees, the rivers, and every animal species you see.
Besides that, teach them to respect the other visitors and not to disturb them while they’re on the camping trip. Remember, the goal is not just to come to the campsite once and forget about it, but to make them realize why is it so important to keep nature clean and help wildlife preservation if you want to come back to that place sometime in the future.
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Camping with kids can become one of the dearest memories you’ll ever have. It won’t always be easy and you’ll need lots of nerves and patience, but once all of it starts to “click”, the adventure – the real adventure – will begin, and you’ll look at them with the pride in your eye. This article should help you answer the questions on how to camp with the kids’ topic and set the way to achieve that feeling.