THE COMPREHENSIVE GUIDE TO CAMPING WITH KIDS
There has been many studies carried out over recent years showing that the current generation of youngsters are spending more time in front of devices and less time playing outside. We think this is a travesty. So, how do you inspire your child to get outside and explore the natural world around them? Take your kids camping!
Camping with kids is a great way to get away from things, go someplace new, and teach your children skills that will be valuable later in their lives. Plus, you may find yourself having a great time time too!
Looking for the best guide to Camping for Kids?
You're in the right place! In this guide we will be covering the following:
Nowadays, there's a lot of fun to have at home. Between computers and smartphones, children young enough to control their movement have access to the entertainment of the world. That said, there are some things you just can't learn from a screen - and camping is one of the best ways to show your children the world beyond technology. Besides, kids tend to love camping - as long as you do it right.
For young children, camping offers sights, sounds, and experiences they can't get at home. Many camping areas are located in family-friendly areas like farms, which can double as a petting zoo for the youngest crowd.
For slightly older children, camping turns their ideas to reality. This could be having a private den of their own, getting to stay up late and tell stories, or exploring nature and seeing where their mind takes them.
For teenagers, camping offers longer and more significant challenges for them. They'll learn how to be independent and self-reliant, and both of those can boost their confidence when they need it the most.
Of course, children aren't the only ones who benefit from camping - you will, too! Camping is a great way to get away from the pressure of everyday life and spend some time with your family. No television, no news bombardment, and no social media - though you should have a phone (normally kept off) for emergency calls or checking in. On top of this, science has shown there are multiple health benefits of being outside in nature.
As a bonus, camping is relatively cheap once you've obtained the essential gear. The right set can last you for years and allow you to stay at places all around the country.
Further Reading: If this is your first outdoors trip then check out our beginners guide to car camping.
There are many important skills your children can learn by camping.
First and foremost is wilderness safety. This covers everything from how to create a fire pit to how to recognize the presence of wild animals. You can also teach them to recognize the signs of sickness or injury in wildlife, either of which can make them far more dangerous than usual.
Next, you can educate them on wilderness survival. This includes foraging for food, avoiding poisonous plants, and safely navigating without the help of GPS. It's never a bad idea to know how to get where you're going without electronic support.
Finally, your children can learn various life skills. If you just show them how to tie a knot, they may not remember how to do it. On the other hand, if they regularly use several essential camping knots to set things up, there's a much higher chance they'll retain the skill when they need it. Many of camping's skills are useful in other areas - camping just happens to be a great place to teach them.
Camping is fun, but if you suddenly drive your children out one day, they may feel lost and have no idea what to do. Here are the best ways to acclimatize them to camping.
There are a couple of things you should do several weeks before your trip.
Preparation is one of the most important parts of camping - and one of the best ways of getting your kids involved.
Further Reading: Don't forget to check your medical supplies are fully stocked with our camping first aid kit checklist. Once your kids become more accustomed to camping, why not up the adventure by dispersed camping in national forests. If you don't own a tent, then read up on the best tents for family camping.
There are quite a few things you'll need to do when you're at the campground. Fortunately, most of these will quickly become a habit.
Establishing a new routine is critical to a successful experience.
There are some additional factors to consider while you're outdoors with your children - especially if you're heading away from your tents.
Pro Tip: Bring Pocket Guidebooks
Kids love hearing about cool facts so why not indulge them by being a walking encyclopaedia! Unless you are already well-versed in all things nature, bring along a few pocket guidebooks that relate to the items on your childrens list.
Cooking is one of the best parts of camping - you get to enjoy what you worked on! Let's start with setting up a proper cooking site, then take a look at some easy recipes.
As you continue camping, you'll figure out what works best for your family and the types of campgrounds you prefer to visit. Don't be afraid to experiment a little, but do have a backup plan just in case.
Here are some of our favorite camping recipes - and best of all, they're easy for kids to get involved with! Check out this article for 89+ camping food ideas!
This delicious snack is easy to make and everyone will enjoy them.
In most cases, the potatoes will be done in about 40 minutes. Be sure to turn them every 10 minutes or so using your hot gloves, and start checking them for doneness once you reach half an hour. Don't put too many potatoes in one container - they won't cook very well if the heat gets spread out too much.
Variation: Try cutting carrots into the shape of fries rather than cutting potatoes into wedges. You can even cook them together since they take about the same amount of time.
Most kids love pizza - and mentioning this recipe to them is one of the best ways of getting them excited about the trip.
Avoid raw ingredients, such as uncooked chicken.
At the right distance, each pizza should be fully heated in 1-2 minutes per side. The cheese should be visibly melted, while the pita itself should look a bit toasty, but not burnt.
Tip: This is so fast and easy you can do it in your backyard before the trip. Teach your kids how to make it at home, then allow them to make and cook their own once you reach the campsite.
The eternal favorite - and with good reason. This is a fun, simple, and delicious treat for your kids. You'll need graham crackers, chocolate, and large marshmallows. Using some long, clean sticks - preferably sanitary ones you brought from home - heat the marshmallows over the fire until they're golden-brown.
While that's happening, break the graham crackers and set chunks of chocolate on one side. When the marshmallow is done, plop it on the open side, then fold them together and wait a minute or two.
While most people like milk chocolate, other people prefer to try things like peanut butter cups, chocolate icing, or various chocolate flavors.Alternative: Use a waffle ice cream cone, putting the chocolate on top of the melted marshmallows and holding it over the flames just for a little bit.
There are many types of activities to enjoy at campsites, from guided nature walks and bird-watching to geocaching and river rafting. Now, kids have different interests, so no one list can cover everything your child might be interested in doing. Instead, I'm going to give you a few examples of the kinds of activities you can do and the types of children who usually enjoy them. Treat these as inspiration, not firm rules.
This is ideal for younger children - especially those with lots of energy. If your campsite has a large, safe area to play - nowhere for ankles to get caught and broken - give your children flashlights and have them play hide-and-seek. Instead of just looking for people, though, they have to shine their light on the target.
This is best for kids who really love exploring the outdoors. Give them a couple of different tools and ask them to create a map of the area. If they're particularly fond of this activity, make it more challenging by asking them to include certain categories. This could include marking the locations of safe-to-eat plants, showing the best evacuation routes, or even finding animal trails.
This game is great for kids with keen eyes and inquisitive minds - though it does take some preparation. A good bingo card should have a variety of things to find - some easy, some hard. When creating bingo cards, try calling the camp and asking about the kinds of things you can expect to see and generate cards off of that.
If you're not bothering anyone else, sing away! Teaching songs is a great way to pass the evening by... or just wait until dinner is ready. Thrillspire has an excellent list of choices here - the first half is ideal for younger children, while the second half is for people who are ready for a challenge.
A battered old deck of cards can help create hours of fun if you know the rules to a few card games like Go Fish!, Old Maid or Crazy Eights.
Further Reading: For another 101 ideas, check out our article on car camping tips.
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In an age when everyone seems to be locked to their small blue screens, I am vehemently passionate about getting more people outside to enjoy the wonder of nature. I hope my posts are informative for both the grizzled veteran and the complete novice alike.