Just like you, you also want your children to have lots of wonderful childhood memories. Something they will treasure for the rest of their lives. And what could be a more fun way to celebrate their being so young, adventurous, and free than to head outdoors and have some family camping?
But if it’s the first time you will camp with your children, things may feel a little more overwhelming.
Camping with kids is a whole lot different than camping with adults. You can’t expect them to just chill and gaze at the stars all through the night, read books, and just rest. Children are very active. They want to explore the world, play and play.
How do you make camping with your children fun and enjoyable?
Before anything else, you want to ensure that your kids are safe and comfortable. Gather all the necessary items and equipment, such as tarps for protecting your tent, picnic table, and other stuff. Prepare a first-aid kit which should include medications, antiseptics, antibacterial soap, gauze, etc. It is also great to have disinfecting wipes to avoid all sorts of dangerous bacteria and microbes. Don’t forget to bring insect spray. Mosquitoes and bugs are everywhere. You don’t want your kids to go home ill.
Pack like a pro
You can’t overpack when you have kids. There are just so many things that you need to bring to ensure their safety and comfort. Apart from the tent, food, emergency kit, and clothes, here are some other essentials that you should not forget to pack:
- Comfort toy or object. If your kids have a favorite toy or a blanket they cannot sleep without, put them in your bag first.
- An extra pair of clothes, socks, and comfortable shoes. If weather forecasts suggest that it’s going to be cold or rainy.
- Take glow sticks. Lots of them. Kids love stuff that glows in the dark. Glow sticks are life-saver too. If you have a dog, simply attach one in its collar so you can easily notice when it’s dark.
Pack clothes differently. Instead of putting them all in one bag, put together one outfit for the day and roll it up with small pieces (such as socks) inside. Secure the rolled outfit with a rubber band. This packing hack makes it easy for kids and adults to dig through the bag without causing a mess.
Games and Activities
Kids love games. They love exploring, especially the great outdoors. Take this opportunity to have them unplug from their devices and appreciate Mother Nature. Here are some fun games and activities to try on your camping trip:
• Go on a nature walk. Let your kids bring binoculars, a camera, and a magnifying glass to observe the different objects they see.
• Sketch. When you return to your tent, let your kids draw what they saw during your nature walk.
• Cook over the campfire. Even adults love smores and hotdogs too. Yum!
• Play flashlight tag.
• Bring board games and card games.
• Ride a bike.
Have a tasty picnic
After playing and exploring, be prepared to face the hungry beasts. Camping is incomplete without having a delicious feast. Prepare meals and snacks that your children love and are easy to prepare, such as sandwiches, granola bars, trail mix, fruits, and veggies. Also, come up with a menu that you can cook over the campfire. Aside from the all-time favorite smores and hotdogs, you can also have some barbecues, burgers, soups, and hearty meals that you can cook over the campfire.
Stick to the usual routine as much as possible
This is very important especially if you have very young kids. Follow the same schedule for mealtime, nap time, and bedtime to ensure a good night’s sleep. If you have pre-bedtime rituals like reading them a book or giving your toddler a massage, don’t skip them to lessen the anxiety that your children may feel being in a different environment.
Give them a quiet time
While your kids would greatly enjoy playing and exploring the outdoors, camping also makes a wonderful opportunity for them to have quiet time which is essential for their mental health. You can teach them the basics of meditation, or just allow them to enjoy nature. Yes. The simple ones are the best!
Turn camping into a learning experience
As parents we all want to squeeze in something educational to all our fun activities. Hence, here are even more activities geared towards stimulating their curiosity:
- Identify the flora. There are a lot of activity sheets that you can download and print for free, but you can also make one by downloading each of the pictures yourself. You can turn it into a scavenger hunt and while you’re at it, you can inject the valuable life lesson too about poisonous and non-poisonous plants. You would have to do a bit of research, though, about the endemic plants that grow in the area that you will be camping in.
- Go bird and insect watching. While you’re identifying plants, why not explore the other inhabitants of the area. Pack your binoculars and magnifying glasses as you hunt for birds and insects to spot.
- Go geocaching. Here’s another valuable life lesson: learning how to use navigational tools like the GPS. Most smartphones are equipped with a GPS app already. Here’s how to do it: prepare a treasure for your kids to find, then, with the same GPS app, enter the coordinates where you’ve hidden it. Log these coordinates in the website, Geocaching. Then the fun begins! Equip them with the GPS tool and a treasure map with a list of clues on how to find the treasure.
- Go stargazing. Finally, learning doesn’t stop even after bedtime. You can insert some basic astronomy (and navigation) lessons at night as well. There are some maps of constellations that you can download. Most of them can be seen by the naked eye, but having a pair of binoculars can also come in handy.
Finally, since we’ve been talking about apps and websites, let’s remember the charms of camping and exploring nature. Our kids are almost always glued to screens and gadgets at home, so why not take the time to unplug from these modern comforts and just let them enjoy their childhood the good ol’ fashion way? Declare your camping day, or a part of it, as an offline day. No gadgets or screens allowed. The same goes for you too. Put your phone on silent. Don’t check for notifications. Your email’s inbox can wait. Camping time is family bonding time, and by that, we mean the family that’s in front of you. Resist the urge to document every single moment as well. Allow your kids to get dirty and be “non-Instagrammable” for a change.
Camping with kids is one of the best experiences you can have once you become a parent. They are only kids once. Through fun moments like this, you can create positive experiences with your kids which they will treasure for the rest of their lives. And we hope that somehow, through these tips, we have helped you in making a more fun and enjoyable adventure with your kids.
BIO Mariam Simmons is a Marketing Specialist at Alpine Swiss and fashion enthusiast with a love for writing. She loves traveling to the world’s top stylish destinations and gets inspired to create helpful fashion and lifestyle guides.