You love the great outdoors. Some of your best memories are hiking through the woods, roasting marshmallows by the campfire, and stargazing late at night. So you want to share your passion with your children, but you are worried that it might be too much for them. Fortunately, camping with kids can be a blast if you take a few simple steps to make sure everything goes off without a hitch.
So to make the most of your camping experience and guarantee that your kids have a fun and safe camping experience, we’ve put together a list of 10 tips to help you plan the perfect camping trip.
1. Be Prepared
A lot can happen when you are out camping. The weather can turn ugly, bugs can swarm and attack, and your little one can pick up some nasty scrapes. So the best way to make sure that your kids have a great time camping is to be prepared for anything.
So when you are packing for your trip, make sure you bring all the essential items like a first aid kit, bug spray, and extra water just in case. REI has a great camping checklist you can use to make sure that you are truly prepared for anything: https://www.rei.com/learn/expert-advice/family-camping-checklist.html.
2. Buy Good Camping Gear
Camping gear can be a costly expense, but if you invest in high-quality camping gear you are much more likely to have a worry-free trip. A large, all weather, waterproof tent, sleeping bags with extra liners, self-inflating air mattresses, and a good camping stove can make all the difference in your trip. Also, there is some great camping gear on the market made specifically to make camping with kids easier. Here are some of our must-have favorites:
- Ciao Baby Portable High Chair
- BABYBJORN Baby Carrier
- BOB Sport Utility Stroller
- 7 A.M. Le Sac Igloo Footmuff
- Instant Portable Breathable Travel Baby Tent
3. Prepare Familiar Foods
Kids are picky eaters, so even though you may be tempted to bring all the great camping foods you love, you might want to stick to recipes they are familiar with and enjoy. You don’t want to be stuck out in the wilderness with hungry kids. Also, it’s best if you prepare all your meals ahead of time so that campfire cooking is a breeze. If your children are older, you can get them involved in the cooking. Here are some great recipes your kids can help you make at the campsite: http://www.popsugar.com/moms/Kid-Friendly-Camping-Recipes-34814758#photo-34814758
4. Do A Trial Run
Before heading out into the backwoods, you should take your kids on a trial trip to see how they enjoy it. You can start by spending a night camping in the safety of your backyard or you can take them to a local park for a whole day to see how well they do outdoors. Also if you are nervous about your first camping trip, go car camping. Car camping is where you drive to a campsite, rather than hike, so if something goes wrong you can easily pack up and leave.
5. Establish Clear Rules
Camping can be dangerous, so before getting to the campsite, establish some clear rules with your children. Letting them know they aren’t allowed to wander off by themselves, to be careful around the campfire, stay away from wild animals, and not to litter around the campsite can help set up clear expectations and keep your children safe.
6. Be Safe
Speaking of safety, there are some things you should do to keep your kids safe in case something does happen. First, equip your children with safety gear like walkie-talkies, whistles, and headlamps in case they wander off. Then make sure they know how to identify toxic plants like poison ivy, poison oak, and sumac. Also, teach them how to check for ticks. Finally, make sure they know to drink plenty of clean water.
7. Set Up A Great Campsite
Once you’ve arrived at the campsite, you want to set up your gear so your base camp is comfortable and safe. Start by creating a common space around a table or campfire so you have an area for meals and activities. Then group the tents around your common space. When setting up your tents, try to find an area that is flat, clear, dry, and where you will not disturb native plants. Then with tarps build a large shelter area. This area will provide protection from rain and the hot midday sun. If you have a great view, try to angle your shelter area to enjoy it. Also set up a hand washing and cleaning station so your kids don’t get too messy. Finally, make sure you have good lighting around all the important areas of your campsite. Camping lanterns are great for this. They are portable and provide a lot of great lighting.
8. Assign Your Kids Duties
Getting your kids involved with camping chores will help them build confidence around the campsite. So give them small manageable tasks like collecting kindling or firewood, fill water containers, or sweeping out the tents. You can even make these duties a game like challenging your kids to see who can collect the most firewood the quickest.
9. Make It Fun
Don’t forget to make the campsite fun. Bring some of your kids’ favorite toys, tell campfire stories, and play some outdoor games. You can also plan some really great nature crafts for kids using found objects. For some fun craft ideas for your camping trip out these 20 nature crafts for kids: http://www.twindragonflydesigns.com/20-nature-crafts-for-kids/
10. Don’t Be Afraid To Pack Up Early
Not every camping trip goes as planned. You may get out into the woods and find that it is raining heavily or that your children are bored and complaining. So rather than make everyone suffer through the misery, pack up and leave. It’s better to leave a bad camping trip and try again, then turn your kids off camping permanently.
If you follow these 10 simple tips, you and your family will have a great time camping this summer.