Many of us wouldn’t even consider bringing the kids along on a camping trip into the unknown, but there are lots of parents who still do it (me included).
Tent camping with the kids is a great idea, however, you need to follow the dos and don’ts to know what you’re allowed to do and what you AREN’T allowed to do.
I’ll be helping you understand how to camp properly so you don’t run into any nasty surprises.
1. Do Include Them In Everything
This ranges from preparing all the food at home, packing all the items, equipment, EVERYTHING.
When you get to the campsite, get them to help unpack everything and pitch the tents.
Doing this will make them feel included, while it will stop them from running around and being annoying.
When they run around and be loud, you get stressed out easily, giving you a bad experience within the first 5 minutes of arriving!
The larger picture here is accomplishing a difficult task together as a family. Setting up camp is difficult work. But the confidence and sense of accomplishment are unmatched when the kids can participate.
Including the kids in everything can be the difficult decision because it will mean that you will have to go slower and explain things in greater detail. You might have the temptation to “go it alone” and “do it yourself”. Consider including the kids as making an investment in their sense of self. What a wonderful way to spend time in the wilderness!
2. Do Keep Their Minds Busy
If you don’t keep them busy, they will get bored and more than likely want to go home
You should be making fun a #1 priority. Do that, and they will love every second of it, they’ll also want to go camping again.
Make sure you bring their favorite toys, items, books, and even board games for at night, it will help them not get bored easily.
When the kids start whinging and complaining, that’s when relaxation time comes to a complete halt and stress starts kicking in.
3. Do Show Them The Basics
While you’re including them in everything, try to explain what you are doing in the process.
It is NEVER too early to teach them the basic skills of outdoor living.
- Pitching the tent
- Collecting firewood
- Staying safe around the campfire
- Packing items into their backpacks properly
- Knowing where to store the food (for daytime and nighttime)
- Knowing how to Interact with animals properly (basically, they have to keep their distance and watch from afar)
- Knowing what to do if they get lost
This is all very important and needs to be learned at some stage anyway.
Why teach them now?
Because time’s not slowing down, and they’ll love to learn about all of it so they can tell their friends on Monday at school 😛
it’s doesn’t hurt to teach them how to create their own survival shelter out of natural materials either.
Heck, you never know, if disaster does strike, what they know and don’t know will determine their odds of surviving and coming back to safety!
4. Do Allow Them To Explore
Kids are natural outdoor enthusiasts, it’s much easier to get along with them and work WITH them if you follow along to what they do.
Digging up bugs, watching wildlife, skimming rocks on the water, they are going to do all of that. Let them, and spend that precious time WITH them.
They’re not exactly around forever!
It’s only a matter of time before they grow up before your eyes and end up moving out!
Show them you can and will always be there for them. This is what camping is for after all – bonding with your loved ones.
5. Do Roast Marshmallows Around The Campfire
Trust me, THIS is what they will remember the most about camping.
They’re going to miss roasting marshmallows around the campfire, while all the family is spending valuable time together and just have general outdoor fun.
Those times are extremely precious, which is why they will likely remember this time the most.
6. Do Pack More Than Enough Clothing
This is a biggie and is almost always overlooked.
Nighttime temperatures drop very quickly, and if you haven’t packed enough clothes (hoodies/jumpers) for your kids, you’re going to regret it.
Not only that, but rainstorms can happen in the peak of summer, it’s just a matter of being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
I’ve found this out the hard way, more times than i care to admit actually.
Which is why you need to make sure your child has enough clothing, for ALL weather conditions.
This means raincoats is a must even in the summertime!
7. Do HAVE FUN!
In addition to all of the dos outlined above, you need to make sure you and the kids are having FUN.
I mean, what is the point of camping if you’re not having fun? You are just wasting time – yours and the kids.
So make fun one of your top priorities, spend valuable time with the kids and be sure to teach them lots of new things, skills they can’t learn back at home or in school 🙂
1. Don’t Expect It To Be Easy
None of it will be easy, but that’s the fun of it all, isn’t it? Challenging yourself so you can be a much prouder, stronger parent, because you WILL come out even stronger and more empowered than when you went in!
While we’re on the subject of not being easy, I’d like to emphasize that they are not going to “sleep in” either.
Don’t even bother staying up late thinking you can sleep until the sun wakes you up, because that is more than likely not going to happen.
If your kids wake up early at home, it will be the same while out camping, it’s as simple as that.
2. Don’t Stress
Like i said, it won’t be easy, because there WILL be times where you want to call it quits, pack it all up and go home.
Don’t let it get to you, stop stressing out, and you will be fine.
Remember, kids will be kids, you can’t change that fact.
It doesn’t really matter HOW good of a parent you are, because at the end of the day, it’s about relaxing and having fun.
If you start stressing out over every little thing, your camping trip is [basically] a waste of time since you’re not getting the desired effect you were hoping for (which is to get away from it all and relax in the great outdoors).
3. Don’t Force Your Kids
What I want to emphasize here is that you shouldn’t “force” your kids into moving faster while on a hike, or making them go for a swim when they simply don’t want to.
Camping is a good time to learn their limitations – what they are good at and what they need work on.
So instead of making them do tasks that they don’t want to do, allow them to choose their own, you will get a better idea of their physical and emotional limitations.
A good example here is fishing; Some kids just can’t get up at an ungodly hour of the morning and go for a fish in the dark, while some will do it in a heartbeat.
4. Don’t Complicate Things Where It Doesn’t Need To Be
You do not need to make things complicated on a camping trip.
Make sure they have their favorite toys (so they don’t get bored), you listen to what they say and spend time with them, that is all you really need to do to have a successful camping trip.
Avoid the urge to bring Ipods, Ipads, and all that other jargon, you’re only going to take away the point of camping in the first place.
5. Don’t Be The Fun Police
Want to really make your kids camping trip a bad one? No? Then don’t stop them from doing something that makes them happy.
Picking up rocks, stopping to look at birds, running around playing tag with other children – even though these little things might annoy you – constantly stopping them from having fun will make them want to go home.
As long as it isn’t dangerous, causing harm or being an annoyance/disturbance to anyone else, then it is absolutely fine to let them be.
Camping with the kids is all about having as much fun as possible while staying safe at the same time.
Don’t ruin their time of having fun and being happy FOR a bit of relaxation time on your part.
You can still relax while they have fun, you just have to give them a designated area to play in 🙂
Do that and you can sit back in your beach chair while sipping on a martini, enjoying the blissful sounds of your family playing in the distance with the trees swaying and the sounds of rivers flowing in the background 🙂
Thanks for reading! I hope you learned a thing or two!
Let me know if you did in the comments below.
1. What “do” or “don’t” is the most important to you?
2. Do you have something you want to add to the list?