6 Reasons to Take Your Kids Camping

kids camping

A must-read for parents who haven’t yet taken their kids camping…

By Carmen Baguio

“I’ll be at the ball field all weekend with Jane’s soccer tournament.  Then somehow I have to get Jake to karate and Jill to her softball game.”

Does this sound familiar?  It’s become almost a badge of honor among moms to see whose kids can be involved in the most extra-curricular activities.  Then you have the whole “competitive” leagues that required the family’s life to revolve around financing and scheduling vacations around competitions.  Don’t get me wrong.  My youngest was involved in competitive dance for nine years, but that wasn’t our life.  She also had to choose dance or another activity.  We couldn’t afford more than that, and I certainly wasn’t going to have every weekend consumed with travel to one convention center after another.

Parenting is all about balance.

These days (wow that makes me sound old) it seems like more and more family activities involve everyone doing their own thing.  Even when the family is at home, often everyone is on their electronic devices, totally unaware of what the rest of the family is doing.  As a teacher, I’ve never had a student come in Monday morning excitedly telling me about their fantastic weekend on a ball field or in their room playing video games.  However, if there is a Boy Scout Jamboree or if their dad takes them on a fishing trip, even if it rained the entire time, I hear all about the food, hiking in the mud or the big fish that got away!

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Girl Scout Camping Bonfire

 

In our quest to have a balanced family life and well-rounded happy children, you can’t go wrong with taking your kids camping.  Here are 6 reasons why:

 

1. Your children can see the country inexpensively.

kids camping 3 My childhood pop-up camper (pictured: me in the back, my mom, our exchange student from Brazil, and my brother)

Compared to hotels or condos, campgrounds are cheap.  You can buy a nice tent for around $100 or less. Tents today are a snap to set up compared to the tents of my childhood.  We didn’t have much money growing up and started out in a tent, then went “big time” with a small, used pop-up.  Camp food is way cheaper than going out to eat every meal.  Even if you are just cooking breakfast and doing sandwiches or hotdogs for lunch, and eat supper out, when you take your kids camping, you will still save a ton compared to staying in a hotel.

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Our first family tent (pictured: daughter Lauren, now 22 and her cousin Nathaniel)

 2. Camping is great exercise. kids camping 5Hiking, Chopping, and Canoeing

Getting a campsite set up is great exercise for children, and they won’t ever realize it.  We would always bring logs for the campfire, but it was the job of my girls to gather the kindling.  Back and forth from the woods they would trudge carrying as many twigs as their little arms would carry.  Growing up with other kids camping, I remember being the “raker”.  It was my job to rake the leaves from away from the fire pit, then I would spend hours raking out my house, arranging camp chairs and logs for benches so everyone would want to come visit my house.  Then I would change my mind and repeat the process all over again.  I remember one trip where my brother and I spent an entire day trying to roll an old, super-heavy stump over to our fire pit.  Unfortunately, we were never able to get the thing to burn!

Then, of course, there’s riding bikes everywhere, climbing on the log and jumping off (repeated frequently for precision), canoeing, and hiking.

 

 3. Kids learn to relax and shut out the world. 

Lauren loved to relax and draw in her sketchbook early in the morning.

Rachel relaxing while coloring

In this day and age, kids are under tight school and extra-curricular schedules.  Some of the stress is self-social media induced.  Fortunately, a lot of the places we camp have no cell signal.  There is nothing to do but relax and play.  My oldest daughter (She is now twenty-three) recently told me some of her best memories involve the two of us getting up at the morning light when the whole campground was still quiet.  We would start a little fire and she would sit in my lap with a blanket talking about anything and everything.  Little did I realize how special those mornings by the campfire made her feel.

My youngest, Rachel, has always said that she hated the outdoors.  I think her early exposure to camping and trips to the lake is starting to come back to her.  She has had a super hard freshman year in college.  For a girl who doesn’t like nature, I’m seeing a whole lot of pictures of her laying in her hammock, hiking, and picnicking at the lake.

Rachel, now a college freshman, hiking with friends

4. Camping teaches the appreciation of nature.

I grew in a rural area with woods galore.  When you have that kind of daily exposure, you become comfortable with nature, and it becomes part of your world.  Back then, there wasn’t the fear of child abduction so we were allowed to play all day long in the woods, climbing trees, and building forts.

My girls grew up in suburbia with only a few small trees in our yard unlike the unlimited access to nature that I had growing up.  Times may have changed, but going to a state campground hasn’t.  Boy Scouts and Girls Scouts pretty much teach the same outdoor skills that were taught when I was a Girl Scout.  I was a Girl Scout leader for nine years.  The girls that started as Brownies in second grade turned into seasoned outdoor lovers by high school.

 

5. Camping teaches kids new skills.

Learning to make a campfire & fishing. Yes, that’s me with a catfish!

I built my first campfire with some coaching from my dad.  I was able to use what I learned to teach my daughters and my Girl Scout troop.  It never ceases to amaze me when people assume Joe (my husband) has made the campfire.  Girls can be fire masters, too!

Growing up poor, we couldn’t afford to go to the community pool, so I learned to swim at the state campground.  My girls also learned swimming while camping at a state park.  My youngest still has distinct memories of being in charge of lunch when she was tall enough to put the hot dogs on the grill.  To say she was proud of “cooking” is an understatement.

I asked my daughter Lauren what she learned most from camping. She said it helped her appreciate the silence of the mornings.  She learned to use her creativity to create “kingdoms” in the tent and make toys out of sticks and rocks.  Considering she is in graduate school working on an art history masters (all paid for with scholarships), I would say any camping mishaps were well worth the imaginative skills she learned!

 

6. Your family forms close bonds when camping.

Pictured: I’m playing cards; my grandma cooking & my mom, brother & I.

My fondest memories of my brother involved playing marathon rounds of card games.  Long after our parents would go to sleep, we would still play cards.  After my brother and his roommate (our cousin Joey) went off to college, they would meet us at the campground next to the university.  So then our marathon card games increased to involve three.  When we all married, we still went camping with the six of us playing cards long into the night.  A few years later, the camping tradition continued with our children all becoming kids camping buddies.

My cousins’ boys, my nephew Nathaniel, and daughter Lauren

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Pictured: Cousins at the campfire, Rachel & Lauren playing in the camper, Lauren & Nathaniel

My biggest regret is selling our little pop-up camper.  I had divorced my first husband and thought there was no way I could manage my two young girls and set up a camper by myself.  I should have had more confidence in all that camping had taught me.  I’m now back camping again.  Even though my kids are now longer living at home, they still enjoying meeting hubby Joe and me at the campground and sitting around the fire.  I’m looking forward to the day their future children can get the same benefits from camping that their mothers and grandmother have enjoyed.

 

This post is dedicated to my mom who gave me my first camp cooking lessons.   At the young age of 48, she passed away way too soon, but the memories of her cooking up camp breakfast and snuggling with me around the campfire will never leave me.

~ Carmen Baguio

I miss my camping mama!

 

Carmen and Joe Baguio are a middle-aged couple  who started their travel blog http://www.packyourbaguios.com a year ago.  Their goal is  to encourage other empty-nesters to learn to become adventurous travelers, campers, and cyclists.

 

Guest Author at

I’m Carmen, and I’m 50 years old.  I started a travel blog with my husband on March 5, 2016, which was our 5th wedding anniversary.  I’m the main writer, photographer, and planner for the site.

I’ve been camping for as long as I can remember.  When I was little, we camped because that was all the vacation we could afford.  As a Girl Scout leader for 10 years, I spent many a weekend teaching girls how to cook outdoors and not burn down the woods.

Teaching is in my blood, and I have been a teacher for the past 18 years.  Currently, I am a 6th-grade ancient history teacher.

25 thoughts on “6 Reasons to Take Your Kids Camping

  • June 11, 2017 at 6:35 pm
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    Our oldest loves to go camping. We haven’t taken our 3 year old with us yet. She normally stays home with the grandparents. Although I think this summer will be the summer she goes with us. These are all really great reasons.

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  • June 10, 2017 at 7:11 am
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    So maybe this is the reason why my parents used to send my sister and I to camps. haha I went so many camps! crazy. But two things that are relatable are family bonding & learning new skils. Sometimes it is difficult when we are young, but it’s definitely important to learn and grow!

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  • June 9, 2017 at 9:11 pm
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    All the pictures are very nostalgic. Camping is a great way to appreciate nature and what you have. I will going on a lot of camping this summer. I am excited for that

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  • June 9, 2017 at 7:38 am
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    I really want to take my daughter camping. It would be so fun. Thanks for this article. We need to try and do this in the summer.

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  • June 9, 2017 at 4:20 am
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    In a tech-based community, it is essential to take kids camping. I have so many great memories of camping and enjoying nature. Great post. I will share this. Thank you.

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  • June 8, 2017 at 1:08 am
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    Yes 🙂 #6 is my favorite. When we’re home there are a million things to distract us but when we’re camping we can just focus on each other! We don’t camp as often as I’d like but we just finished our second trip of the year and we have 2 more booked. Last year we only went twice!

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  • June 7, 2017 at 3:27 pm
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    These are awesome reasons! I like that you were able to do camping with your kids. I do not have kids yet but I appreciate the benefits of camping. It will improve your health and perspective in life. Kids should do more outdoor activities because they will learn survival skills.

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  • June 7, 2017 at 11:26 am
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    I follow the blog of Carmen and Joe Baguio, they have some wonderful articles. When I was young my dad would take me camping, I haven’t had the chance to take my daughter camping yet but as soon as I get the chance, I will, and it will be a memorable experience for her, like mine with my dad was. Nowadays it’s an escape from social media and the internet, I think I’ll even make it ipad / smartphone free so she doesn’t even play games but appreciates the nature and clean air. This post reminds me of the Adam Sandler movie, Grown Ups.

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  • June 7, 2017 at 10:41 am
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    Im not a huge fan of children but love seeing families get out and about like this. It’s such a great way for families to connect with each other and nature. Thanks for sharing a great article. Sending it to all my friends who say this cant be done.

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  • June 7, 2017 at 12:25 am
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    Growing up, we went camping as a family a lot. While I didn’t appreciate it back then, I sure do now. Some of my best memories were made during those times. I still remember the sound of rain on our tent and there’s nothing like a smore hot off the camp fire!

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  • June 6, 2017 at 9:48 pm
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    My parents were avid campers and myself and my brother were always in tow. Now that they have been gone for some time it is surprising that many of the memories we have of them are around some of the great trips and adventures that they exposed us to.

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  • June 6, 2017 at 7:48 pm
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    I don’t have any kids of my own, but I am a Cub Scout leader. We can’t do over-nighters with the boys since they’re only 8, but it’s fun to teach them about camping and how to pitch a tent, cook over a fire or with a dutch oven, and about being outdoors. Growing up, we camped in hotels because my father didn’t really like sleeping outside. 🙂

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  • June 6, 2017 at 2:43 pm
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    I don’t have kids but went camping lots as a child and it is good fun, you create some of your best memories camping with real communication, and quality time without the tech distraction!

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  • June 6, 2017 at 2:11 pm
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    Interesting post about benefits of kids on camping. My boys went to camping first time with their school. When they returned they were totally new as they have to work, build and appreciate nature there. They have witnessed sleeping under the stars which is a bliss.

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  • June 6, 2017 at 2:07 pm
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    In these days, when children are stuck in front of the computer all day long, going camping is a must really. I would have loved to do it when I was little. We would still go and have picnics in the mountains nearby but never actually stay overnight. I think that camping can teach children some valuable lessons and skills.

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  • June 6, 2017 at 11:01 am
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    Such beautiful, genuine family pictures, I really liked them and camping as a family is really a fun activity. 🙂

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  • June 6, 2017 at 10:44 am
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    Ahhh I wanna scream ‘YES YES YES’ from the top of my lungs!! My parents took me to camping a lot when I was a kid and I literally had the best time in the world. Learned new skills, learned how to relax more and appreciate the nature.. it’s just so great and I highly recommend it to all of the parents! Your kid is gonna love it and thank you for that!

    PS. My favorite thing was when my family and other family friends that had kids as well came with us so I basically got to spend time with more kids! Ahh, the memories!

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  • June 6, 2017 at 9:00 am
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    What a lovely post! So many great reason, and so many memories of your own childhood shared with us. I for one am a huge fan of family activities where everyone gets outdoors and spends quality time together (without digital distractions). We had our first camping trip with our 3 year old a couple of months ago and he was a huge fan! I’ll be sharing this with my followers, thanks!

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  • June 6, 2017 at 8:29 am
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    Camping is surely a very effective way of teaching and passing down to our children important skills and values. 🙂 Loved all the photos!

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  • June 6, 2017 at 7:34 am
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    Camping is indeed great family exercise and we used to do this a lot in previous years. However, my husband is still recuperating from hip surgery so we are putting off camping trips for now. You are right though. This is an inexpensive way for the kids to enjoy nature and the countryside.

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  • June 6, 2017 at 4:21 am
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    We’ve been camping with kids since they were babies, and love it. It was a lot of work at first, but our kids are awesome campers now. We love being outside as a family and can attest that each of these 6 reasons alone make it worth it.

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  • June 6, 2017 at 4:19 am
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    I dont have kids but run a guide unit so i take 20 of other peoples kids camping. They gain so much out of it for all the reasons you have listed above!

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  • June 6, 2017 at 3:38 am
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    I’ve never been able to experience camping where we live at the moment. Living in Dubai we only have beaches and mountains and most of the time, it’s not allowed to camp overnight. The only weekend getaway I experience is going to the beach and hiking. But I hope someday, I’ll be able to take my future kids camping as I know how important and vital it is to reconnect with nature especially with the modern world the way it is right now!

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  • June 6, 2017 at 12:30 am
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    Some of my fondest memories as a kid were camping! It’s such a great way to truly bond as a family. Thanks for these great 6 reasons.

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  • June 5, 2017 at 9:23 pm
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    I agree that there are many added benefits to camping and while I am not much of a camper I did camp a lot as a kid. It certainly taught me new skills and how to appreciate nature x

    Reply

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