Camping with children can bring you back to the simplicity of nature. It increases your awareness of your surroundings and can refresh your appreciation for the many things that so often go unnoticed. Many things are learned and experienced for the first time during each day in the life of a child. Patience is almost unavoidable. It is so important to take the time to enjoy the journey of these new experiences with your child. In nature there are so many amazing things to discover. Camping can be a wonderful adventure. Just think – the birds and animals, the plants and trees, the rocks, the streams and ponds, the insects, the sounds, the weather, the wildflowers, and the many activities that can provide so much excitement. The possibilities are endless! By planning successful, enjoyable camping trips when your children are young, you will set them on the path to a lifetime of outdoor adventures.
**Get the kids interested in the trip by getting them involved. Build their excitement and anticipation.
- Plan the camping trip together
- Decide on places to go – consider interests, outdoor experience and children’s ages.
- Pick activities to do
- Plan and shop for your meals
- Prepare and pack the equipment and supplies
- Try a backyard campout before you go for the first time
- Teach the kids how to set up a tent
- Try some outdoor cooking
- Experience a night outdoors in sleeping bags
- Show them how to use some camping equipment
- Plan a few activities
- Search the sky for constellations
- Listen to the many night sounds
- Don’t forget the special nighttime snacks
- Try to experience outdoor activities with your kids
- Get them familiar with the outdoors in order to eliminate their fears
- Teach them about safety and to respect nature
- Teach outdoor skills and outdoor ethics
- Camp chores are actually fun for kids. They love collecting firewood, filling water containers, hammering in tent stacks, camp cooking etc.
- Make the camp chores extra fun – have contests for gathering the most kindling, best camp cooking, most organized gear
- Take a small day hike in the woods at a local park
- Visit a nature center
- Go fishing at a local pond or stream
- Take an evening walk
- Go on a picnic
- Read related books
- Have a scavenger hunt
- Go on a flashlight walk
**Take the necessary gear and supplies
- Extra clothing and shoes – the kids will get wet and extremely dirty
- Warm clothing – it may get chilly especially in the evening/dress in layers
- Insect repellent – consider time-release formulas
- Sunscreen – they’ll be outside all day
- First aid kit – for those little accidents
- Rain gear – keep them dry and warm
- Toys, games, activities – you want to keep them busy
- Check out Want to Play a Game?
- Familiar bedtime items – pillows, blankets, stuffed animals, dolls etc
- Flashlight/glow sticks – to help relieve nighttime fears
- Snacks – all this activity is going to make them hungry
- Drinks – avoid dehydration due to heat and activity level
- Bring a camera with plenty of film/flash/extra batteries
- Disposable type are excellent for outdoor activities
- Give each child their own disposable camera
- Capture your memories with video
- Keep a journal
- Describe details about your trip and the activities you did
- Document special moments
- Include photos
- Have each family member write about their experience
- Save crafts etc.
- Personalized Jigsaw Puzzles
- Keeping an Outdoor Adventure Photo Journal
**Plan alternative activities
- For bad weather
- To avoid boredom during down times
- If they dislike a certain planned activity
**Respect campground quiet hours
**Make your travel fun
- Don’t travel a great distance – stop frequently
- Make your trips short – maybe two or three nights
- Take toys and activities to keep them busy
- Play car games – license plates, sign abc’s, singing etc
- Take plenty of snacks
- Build their excitement and anticipation
**A few tips on camping with an infant – Submitted by K. Molina
- Use jar baby food. It’s easy to pack. Be sure to buy the smaller jars to cut down on leftovers or waste.
- Buy a brand of baby cereal that has the formula or whole milk already in it…just add a little bottled water.
- Portion out the cereal in small plastic ziplock bags…just add water.
- Buy formula ready-to-drink in cans… you don’t have to add water.
- Buy 2% milk in tetra packs that don’t need to be refrigerated until they’re open
- Buy toys at the dollar store. They will keep your kids occupied in the car and at the campsite…simply throw them away if they get too dirty to take home.