Quality Time Around the Campfire: Tips for Going Camping with Kids
It Takes Both Preparation & Flexibility
Kids today can tell you about every character on the latest TV shows and how to get through each level of every hit video game, but can they tell you the names of the native trees and animals to the area, or do they know how to identify poisonous plants?
With so much technology surrounding our children today, they can lose sight of the real world around them, which means they miss out on valuable experiences. Camping is a great family adventure that delivers fun, learning and life, all in one and can lead to stronger bonds and happier kids. If you’re not big on the outdoors or aren’t sure how camping with kids will work, read on!
8 Reasons Why You Should Take Your Kids Camping
Fresh Air and Sunshine
We can all benefit from getting outside of the house and offices or schools. Quality fresh air and sunshine does wonders for your physical and mental health. Kids can run free in nature all while soaking up the much-needed vitamin D from the sun. The outdoors helps relieve stress, elevates your mood and improves your heart rate and blood pressure.
While these factors will not inspire kids to go camping, it should inspire you to get them exposed early and maybe they will continue the tradition.
Going camping delivers a new experience every time, which is exciting for kids. Not only is camping itself different from their usual daily activities, but every trip will be a new adventure. They will get so much out of seeing and doing things for the first time, and for parents, this is just as exciting as watching them learn to walk and talk.
Even if your child loves to read and learn, there is something to be said about learning first-hand in nature. Seeing a bird on a page of a book does not compare to seeing it sit on a branch or fly away after catching a bug. And let’s not forget, when you’re camping away from the bright lights of the city, your kids can see the stars at night.
This only works, of course, if you leave the electronics at home. Too much media can cause mental health issues, so the break from screens is a great way to keep their young minds active. They get to see the real world and experience new sights and sounds, away from the animated and pixelated worlds they are getting used to.
Learn the Hard Way
Camping allows children to build character because they are forced to “rough it.” They learn how to cook their own food, clean dishes by hand and erect a tent. They even get to dig fire pits since there is no oven.
When outdoors and away from technology, there is nothing to do but run around and explore. Kids can enjoy hiking trails, swimming in lakes, fishing or boat rides. Staying active keeps their bodies active and fit and their minds healthy and free from boredom.
Quality Family Time
You are away from work and responsibilities and the kids are away from school and electronic distractions. Camping with the kids is a great way to reinforce family bonds and enjoy each other. Kids also enjoy that all the household rules are no longer in place, so everyone is more relaxed and ready for fun.
When it comes to kids, there are always helpful tips and parenting guides to lead the way, and camping is no exception. Camping with the kids is an exciting and fun time, but it is always helpful to keep a few things in mind to make sure the trip goes smoothly.
Camping with kids does not have to be a challenge as long as you keep the following tips in mind before you leave and once you get to the campsite.
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How to Prepare for Camping with Kids
There is no such thing as being over-prepared when it comes to camping. Your trip needs to match the maturity and skill level of your child. A little planning and a great checklist can go a really long way.
- Get their input in the planning process like selecting the campsite, planning meals and choosing the activities. This gets them more invested and engaged once they get there.
- Always do a dry run by spending a night in your yard, especially on their first camping trip. This gives them a little taste but with the added security of knowing home is nearby. You can test out the camping gear and get a sense of your child’s comfort level. You want to know beforehand if they are going to need that favorite stuffed animal to sleep with.
- Let your kids do the packing after giving them a camping gear list of what they will need. They will benefit from having this responsibility and you can always check the bags before you leave.
- Pick the right place in terms of amenities and skills. For the first few times, you may want a place with cabins or showers and nearby towns for restaurants. Going glamping is another great way of gradually easing your family into the camping experience. As your kids get more experienced, you can begin to “rough it” more and choose to use tents in a wilderness campground.
Once You’re at the Campground
- Get your kids involved as soon as you arrive. Let them pick the spot to set up tents and create a chore schedule, so everyone knows what their responsibilities will be.
- Even though the rules of home are far away, you still need to establish boundaries for the campsite. Mark areas that are off-limits and insist on a buddy system for leaving the campsite. Make sure they know to always inform an adult before walking off.
- Plan activities and engage in them. Be it hiking, canoeing or fishing, make sure you have time set for all activities and that you do something for everyone. A great idea for kids is to create a scavenger hunt, for them to hike and explore to learn all about the area. You should also bring some card games or small travel games for any downtime or in the event that bad weather keeps you all in the tent.
The most important thing to remember is to be flexible. Camping trips never go exactly as planned because people and nature are unpredictable. The key is to remember that this is a fun trip and there is nothing to stress about. Stress will keep your kids from enjoying the experience.
Don’t worry about crossing everything off your checklist, because whatever you miss can be done on the next family camping trip — just in case you need an excuse to go again!
For more great information on getting outside with your family, check out Outdoor Families Magazine!