My first camp was with my family when I was 10 years old for the summer vacation. As a Kid, I didn’t realize how much preparation goes in for planning for a camp, especially with kids. After all, my parents looked after all of the planning and all that I did was just to enjoy the whole trip and the happy vacation spent together with my parents.
Similarly, I decided to take my kids to a camp when they were less than 10 years old. In fact, at that age, everything feels like a fantasy. But more than all the fantasy that we can provide to our kids, camping with our kids requires a lot of planning to be done for them to enjoy the entire trip.
Preparation is the Key, I would say. Whether you are taking your kids for a short and a private trip or a long and trip with a lot of kids, you have to prepare more and better to make it an interesting and fun-filled memorable one.
So, the following are important things to keep in mind while camping with your kids.
Knowledge is the Key
When I say knowledge, you might tell me, “That’s the whole purpose why I am looking at this page”, but, wait. When you camp with your kids, you might find them more excited. Because, for them, the word “camping” sounds different and amusing. Kids, generally ask a lot of questions. They always find the word “why” to be very attractive. Like, “Why should we eat now?”, “Why should we walk from here?”, “Why should I apply sunscreen?”, “Why should we always stay together?”.
We should indulge the knowledge about the entire trip and camp to our kids. In order to make it comfortable and interesting for them, sit with them and explain the exact plan of the trip. It is very important to make them understand the crux and the various activities in the camp, right from, the time you start, the kind of accommodation, the kind of dress to be used, the kind of food you will be having, the various safety measures to be undertaken, so on and so forth.
If the kids are a bit older, you can also give them a short to do list, like to choose the food, pack the dress, to make sure all their accessories are well packed and safely handled.
When the kids have complete knowledge about the camp, on arriving at the campsite, you can gather them and explain things easier for them to grasp and understand. You can mark the safety boundaries beyond which the kids cannot move and establish your safety rules for them.
It is important to establish them before the wandering start.
If you want to take the knowledge sharing to the next step, try to practice the ideas of the camp in your own home. You can set up a small tent in your backyard. You can explain your kids about how do u set up a small tent and also make them stay in the tent for a night or so. They will have the experience of the new environment in which they will stay and have an idea of how real camping is going to be.
If Possible, you can also take them to the local area park and have them experience the real environment for the camp. This is a great way to test the plan and impart them the knowledge.
While doing this, it is also important to note that, there might be areas where you as a parent or guardian will be forgetting certain things or failing to execute things as per plan. It is important to make a note of all these areas in order to avoid doing them in the real campsite.
Plan Your Activities
Always remember that planning activities are very important for the kids. Because boredom strikes kids very easily. Though your camping is for a day only, kids constantly need some fun activities throughout the day to keep them engaged and active.
When we go camping, we plan for the activities based on the camping location. For instance, my family will sometimes take our bikes if the campsite we choose has any paved trails that are great for biking. It is not only a fun time but also excellent exercise.
We can arrange some fun craft ideas using things from nature, such as leaves, petals, pinecones, stones, etc., Kids will love doing such interesting crafts. You can also arrange for a scavenger hunt where the winner gets a prize.
If it is going to be a night camp, then arrange for a campfire if required. You can also make it an S` mores night. You can help the kids roast their own marshmallows over a safe fire.
You can also consider fishing, swimming and campfire story like few other ideas for camping activities. You can also think of any other activities that would suit your kid`s choice and interest. At the end of the day, the kids should be fully entertained and enjoy the camp.
Pack The Essentials
Packing is the most important aspect of camping. Though understanding about the camp is an integral part, packing the essentials is equally important. The risk of missing any item required is comparatively higher.
As mentioned earlier, it is important to involve our kids in the packing section. The kids shall feel a part of the entire camp right from the beginning. They will also have a sense of belonging when they have a say in what they bring.
The most important thing about packing is the tent. You have to pack the required tent in the appropriate style and size required for the camp. If your kids are grown up, you can probably take two tents. Kids feel so excited and a sense of independence when they have a separate tent in the camp.
Once you choose your tent, it is important to identify if the tent has a footprint. If there is no footprint, well, then you may want to invest in one. A footprint is a ground cover for under your tent. The ground feels more comfortable and protects us from moisture.
So, the next comes the sleeping gear. Especially, when you camp with your kids, it is important to make sure everyone is happy and comfortable with their sleeping gear. When some kids are satisfied with the sleeping bags, some may prefer air mattresses or even cot. So, it is important to identify the needs of individual kids and pack up the sleeping gears accordingly.
Make sure you pack enough blankets if required an additional one too. Though it might be hot during the day time, it can get surprisingly cold during the nights.
Chairs are a must for camping. So are headlamps and flashlights. It is essential to carry the extra pack of batteries.
The most important part of the camp is the first aid kit. Trust me, prevention is better than cure. It’s better to be safe than to feel sorry later. You will not know at which minute you will require a band-aid. Further, always pack sunscreen and insect repellant. Else, you will risk your kid’s health and hear constant complaints from them. Whether or not your campsite has a shower, it is fine to have a soap with you always. Toothbrush and toiletries are a must and please don’t forget them.
Cooking your food outdoors has a rustic and romantic appeal to it. Yes, the same kind of feel you wanted. But, when your kids are around, you want to do everything as possible to make your mealtime quick and easy on the campsite.
It is essential to plan your meals. Yes, you heard it right. Planning is equally important for food. You can write down the full meal requirements and prepare as much as possible at home. This can include cutting veggies, carving out portions, marinating meals, etc.,
Once you have listed down and finished deciding upon the meals during the camp, the next step includes preparing a checklist for the things essential for preparing the meals. Everything from required condiments, utensils, tools, so on and so forth shall be entered in the checklist.
For Example, If you plan on taking food in cans, don’t forget to pack that can opener. If you want to toast some hot dogs, then the important items to form part of the checklist would be buns, ketchup, mustard, and skewers.
Equally important is the selection of travel containers. We have specially designed plastic salt and pepper containers that are perfect for camping. The locking lids don’t tend to spill out and we need not worry about any glass breaking.
Allow your kids to choose their own snacks to bring along with you. Of course, their snacks should be practical, satisfying and as healthy as possible. It is always better to carry fruits as snacks – Apples, grapes, and oranges will make a good combination. A good trail mix is also probably the best choice when it comes to easy camping meals for kids.
It is highly important for you and your kids to stay hydrated throughout the camp. Though your campsite might be well equipped with water sources, you cannot risk the chances of your kids running out of the water. It is always a better idea to pack every additional bottle of water, juice boxes or sports drinks too. Your kids might get bored with drinking plain water.
Else, you may just take along with you packets of juice powders and mix it along with the water to save space and weight.
Clothing is also an important aspect of camping. Each of your children should have adequate and proper clothing. Wearing a light layered dress is easy to carry and tends to work out nicely. Layers help it when it gets cooler at night. It is important to pack at least one outfit a day, plus a minimum of one additional dress.
Always get a different dress to wear at night other than the one to wear during the day. After a whole day of outing, your kids will be dirty and sweaty. It is very unhealthy to leave them along the same dress during the night. A fresh set of nightwear will go a long way.
If you are camping on a rainy day, make sure you carry waterproof rainwear and windbreaker. The jacket shields you from the rain without being too heavy and bulk.
If you have swimming as a part of your camping activity, or camping near a lake or river, make sure that everyone has a swimsuit. Additionally, don’t forget to pack an additional set of towel. We don’t really know how the lake will be at different times and what stays in under the lake. Hence, it is important to take water shoes along with you to protect the kid`s feet.
If you are camping on a sunny day, it is essential to carry an umbrella or a hat. Hats are an excellent way to keep the sun off the child`s head. They ‘ll enjoy more if you let them pick their own hat.
Finally, it is ok to invest in some easy-on shoes. You will require shoes which are comfortable and supportive but also durable and lightweight. If you are camping with younger kids, you are also going to require shoes which are easy to put on and remove.
You might plan an awesome trip but might miss out on the edges to make it go the way you wanted. So, here are few extra tips to avoid just missing out on the edges and to keep your children safe and happy along the way.
A Seasoned camper is well aware that, camping sometimes requires tools which are dangerous and kids along with dangerous tools will be a nightmare. Hence, it is always better to buy your kids a play version of camping equipment. There are a few sets of camping toys that include, lanterns, swiss army knives, compasses, thermoses, and other tools. They can play along without hurting themselves.
Also, bring along a plastic tub to hold any toys or sports equipment. It’s a better choice to store all the items in one place and to move along with them in your campsite.
Some kids might not feel comfortable or might not be used to sleeping on the ground. So, depending upon your kid`s preference, you can consider buying cot bunk beds for your kids. Not only will they love the thrill of bunk beds, but they will feel more comfortable this way.
You can also pack glowsticks to comfort your kids if are afraid of the dark. Further, you can add glowsticks as a compulsory part of your camping checklist for surprising your kids with the bright glow when it gets dark.
A good lesson I have learned all these years is to carry along a foam floor tiles. This is very good especially when you camp with your toddler. Place the connecting foam floor tiles along the bottom of your tent beneath you’re your sleeping bags and air mattresses. It will not only provide a nice cushion for your toddler but also will provide beautiful colors to your temporary home.
It’s a Wrap!
My final piece of wrapping advice is to always carry a camera and make some wonderful memories of lifetime. At the end of the day, camping is all about experiences and memories. These photos will last a lifetime and your kids will look forward to many more adventures.
Camping with your kids should not have to be a hard task. If you find that it’s dreading to camp outside with your family, chances are there that you are not prepared well. Use these tips and do a lot of research to make the most of your quality camping time.