If you’ve never been camping before, the prospect of taking the kids out into the backcountry might seem a little intimidating.
But you don’t need to be worried - camping is great fun for all the family and there are lots of resources to help first-timers!
Whether you’re a total novice or experienced outdoors adventurer, here are some handy hints and tips for taking the kids on a successful camping trip.
The great outdoors might be endless - but campsites aren’t! Make sure that you book your space at a campground well in advance to make sure you don’t miss out.
Some places allow dispersed or wild camping (not camping on a designated campsite) which doesn’t require booking. If you’re planning an off-site camp trip, make sure you pick a quiet, secluded and get there early - because there’s no other way to secure your spot. Always check that wild or dispersed camping is allowed by your local authority.
Campsites can fill up quickly during summer. With COVID-19 forcing more families to consider a different kind of vacation this year, you don’t want to wait until all the good spots are gone!
Bring Some Games
Some parents might get anxious at the thought of taking the kids into the wilderness without their iPad or Xbox. But it’s okay to take some games or toys from home to help pass the quiet moments when the kids start to get antsy.
I recommend keeping things simple. I would still leave the iPads at home and try and keep screentime to a minimum (and remember, grown-ups should follow that rule as well - not just kids).
A scavenger hunt is a classic camping game that can help educate your kids about nature. For some campfire fun, why not use some of the marshmallows you brought for s’mores to play Chubby Bunny - where whoever is able to keep saying “Chubby Bunny” with the most marshmallows in their mouth wins. If you’ve got a big group and some time to kill, Camping Olympics can really fill a day
There’s plenty to do when camping - just make sure you’re prepared with some games. If you need some more suggestions, check out this list of fun activities and games for camping with kids.
Keeping Everybody Safe
Whilst campgrounds are usually safe places, they are unfamiliar environments for kids and can be dangerous.
Whenever you arrive at camp, it’s always a good idea to set up some boundaries for the kids. Walk the kids around what you would consider the limits of the campsite they can explore so they know where they can play.
There might possibly be simple demarcation, like a fence, where the campsite ends. More rugged, off-the-beaten-path sites can require looser boundaries such as "do not go beyond that big tree."
Get the Kids Involved
It can be a little disheartening to hear, but your kids might not want to have the same sort of camping trip as you. Maybe you want to kick back and relax whilst they would rather do more exploration. If everyone has different ideas about the trip beforehand, it can leave some members of the family feeling let down or disappointed.
If you’re thinking of planning your first camping trip, the time to speak to your kids about it is now - before you organize anything.
Keep the kids involved in camp life as the trip goes on. By involving them in set-up and chores, you are also teaching skills so they can go camping independently by themselves one day.
And even with all this guidance, it's still possible that something could go wrong. After all, you can’t control the weather. Maintaining a positive attitude and making the most of the situation are the best things you can do.