Camping with the kids is an adventure every family should experience, not just once but many times throughout your lives. You don’t just have to settle for the camps close to home either. You can drive to a neighboring state or even find some inexpensive airline tickets to a destination on the other side of the country for a real change of scenery. Many camping grounds offer the option of renting cabins or even fully equipped camp sites with everything you’ll need from tents to beds to cooking facilities. Not as cheap as pitching your own tent, but it’s certainly a great way of seeing the other side of your country!
No matter how rustic you want to go for your camping trip, you and the kids can have a fantastic time together in the great outdoors.
Here are six tips to make sure your camping trip with the kids is a real success:
Let Them Help
Don’t you just love it when the kids get to that age where they want to help? It is a period that doesn’t last, so take advantage of it while you can! There are plenty of small and simple jobs the kids can help with, like carrying the small items, rolling out the sleeping bags, collecting small branches for the fire, helping with the food, picking up trash and passing out plates for meals.
Including everyone in the daily camp tasks is a good way to tighten that bond between you and ensure that things get done faster, leaving more time for the adventure.
Of course young children usually want to help right at the worst possible time so it’s a great idea to always have a few ideas for ways that they can help that get them out of your hair. That way, when they offer to help during that 20 crucial minutes when you are laying out tent poles in careful numbered order and the last thing you need is a five-year-old rearranging them, you instantly know a task to give them like collecting sticks for the fire that will make them feel important and make your job easier at the same time.
Take Nature Walks
Your kids love to be on the move, so when you’re camping make sure you give them plenty of opportunities. Take a walk each day exploring the scenery and inspecting the local wildlife, pick out the different plants, insects and birds. Choose a different path to take each day. Let them touch things (so long as you know they’re not hazardous). If the area allows it, go digging for arrowheads.
Show the kids that camping is about more than s’mores around the fire. It’s about enjoying nature and appreciating all it has to offer.
Let Them Get Dirty
Let’s face it: camping is dirty business. Don’t fret over every bit of dirt they get on their clothes/ hands/ face. If your kids can spend a blissful hour digging up one spot with a tiny shovel, let them! Grab a book and enjoy the quiet while they play. Or sit down with them and help them find rocks, worms and other fun things.
It might not be sand-castle material surrounding you, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t fun to dig in the dirt once in a while. This photo wasn’t taken camping but rather at Grandpa’s house (who I might add is under strict orders from all the grandchildren to never ever ever build over top of his dirt patch!)
Bring Outside Toys
Think low-tech when you start packing toys for the camping trip. Frisbees, baseball glove and ball, a football, skipping ropes and hula hoops. If you are driving and have a bike rack, bikes can be a fantastic thing to bring and a great way for the kids to explore a camp site and make friends. Scooters take up less room and are a good alternative. For younger children, buckets for collecting items or cups and containers for water play. A large bucket, some containers, some soapy water and a large collection of found rocks, leaves and flowers can provide hours of entertainment!
Ideally, outside toys should be anything that isn’t going to be a hassle to pack before and after the trip is going to be a welcome distraction to fill in the time while you’re outdoors. These activities can keep the whole family entertained while you play together.
Don’t bring too many toys though – they will probably end up ignoring them anyway in favour of sticks and rocks anyway. Take the photo below – who needs real fishing lines when you have sticks and a creek!
Pack Crayons and Paper
Coloring is always a fun activity for the kids to enjoy, especially when you tell them to draw the things they see around them. Leaf rubbings are another fun thing to do while you’re camping. During one of your nature walks, have the kids gather a few different types of leaves and then show them how they can make leaf rubbings.
This is an activity they can do every day and it gives them a souvenir to bring home with them (without the leaves).
Pack for a Rainy Day
You never know for sure what the weather is going to do on a camping trip, so make sure you are prepared for a day spent inside the tent just in case it starts to rain. Or you strike an uncomfortably hot day where everyone needs to be inside to escape the sun.
Have coloring books and crayons, play dough, cards, games and some books. Anything that will be able to keep you all entertained for a few hours so that you aren’t forced to stare at the walls and wait.
Lego can be fantastic but it can also be diabolical if your children aren’t great at finding all the pieces and you step on it in the middle of the night when trying to creep through a tent on your way to the camp toilet!
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