For many, the idea of camping with children is a far off dream that, in reality, has proven to be something of a nightmare. But it doesn’t have to be like that!
Plan The Trip Together
The first step for getting kids involved, no matter their age, is to involve them in the planning process. Kids will always feel more like they ‘own’ the trip if they’ve had a hand in planning it. Talk to them about the activities you might do, the food you might eat, and the games you’ll play in the car. Involve them at the beginning and it will be easier to maintain their interest throughout.
Do Your Research Before Deciding On The Spot
It’s important before you embark on your camping trip to make sure the spot you’ve picked is appropriate for your children. Avoid obvious dangers if your younger children tend to wander, like proximity to a body of water, or a large forested area. If this is your first trip start with a simple outing to a maintained campground with some facilities, to get everyone used to the process.
Do A ‘Test Night’ Camping In Your Backyard
If you’ve never camped with your kids before, get them really excited by having a ‘camp out’ in your own backyard. If you don’t have a backyard, just set the tent up in your living room and spend the night camping out and enjoying non-electronic pastimes like card games, storytelling and so on.
Make The Car Ride As Fun As Possible
Having kids in the car, especially if it’s a long journey, is often a struggle for parents. While it can be tempting to just buckle in and bear it for the journey, both you and your kids are likely to arrive at camp pretty grumpy and overdone. That’s why it’s a good idea to provide some in-car entertainment. For younger kids, audiobooks and colouring is a great idea, while for older kids something interactive like trivia testing, sing-alongs and reading are perfect (as long as they don’t get carsick).
Involve Them In Setting Up
Just as you involved your kids in the planning process, so too is it a good idea for them to be involved in setting up camp. It gives them more ‘ownership’ over the space and also makes it easier to wrangle them into packing up later. Try and give each of your children a chore to do in setting up, whether that’s collecting firewood, putting out chairs, or unpacking bedding from the car.
Camping with Children: Be Safety Conscious
There are a lot of things to be cautious about when travelling with children. You should make sure that you bring with you a first aid kit, extra warm clothes (in case of a washout), a torch for each individual (including one spare), some itch relief cream, sunscreen and sun protection. Also, make sure you take the time to explain to your children about the dangers of eating berries and mushrooms they find around the campsite. Ideally, you should do a walk around with your kids when you arrive, to make sure they’re familiar with the general area, and know where to go if you aren’t around and they need help.
Plan An Activity (But Have A Backup)
Camping in itself can be a fun thing to do, but it’s always nice to have some kind of special camping activity to look forward to. Depending on where you are, this might be bird watching, nature sighting, fishing, canoeing or swimming. Hiking, walking and geocaching are also good camping activities for active kids. However, make sure you have some kind of backup entertainment, like books, a board game, or something else simple you can do just in case it rains.
Plan Familiar Meals
Kids are likely to use a lot of energy when they’re running around having fun on a camping trip, and so will you chasing after them. That’s why you should provide high energy foods for them during the trip. Remember camping foods should be simple to pack, cook and clean up. Familiar meals are best, so try to adapt a meal you cook regularly, that your children like, to be cooked on a campfire, BBQ or camp stove.
Bring The Camera
Family camping trips are full of fun, excitement and memories, so make sure you bring your camera to capture some of these moments. Investing in a hardwearing camera, something shockproof and even waterproof can make the process of capturing those memories less stressful. It’s great to have a camera that you can take with you anywhere your family goes, that can put up with your kids using it, and that takes a picture you aren’t soon to forget.
So, when’s your next trip?