It’s summertime and that means it’s time to get outdoors. If you’re a parent, this might mean packing up the car for an epic camping trip with your family.
Our family loves to camp out. We usually go on camping trips 3 to 4 times a year and we’ve camped with lots of babies, toddlers, young children, and older kids. The experience of camping is great for kids and adults alike. Today I’ll be sharing some great tips for camping with kids to make it easier!
Camping with kids can be a lot of fun. It’s a great way to get outdoors and appreciate nature, but it can also be difficult for parents to manage all the different needs that their children have.
Camping can be an amazing experience for kids and parents alike, but it does come with some challenges that need to be addressed before you head out on your adventure – especially if this is your first camping trip!
We just had our annual large family camp out with 24 family members – ranging in age from 3 years old to 65+ years old. By now, most of the older kids are pros at setting up a camp ground, building fires, identifying poison ivy, sleeping in hammocks, setting up tents, and more.
I didn’t grow up camping much. It wasn’t something I started doing until I was in my 30’s.
I love camping. And camping with kids is so much fun!
I love the outdoors. I love the adventures we have as a family when we camp, hike, and discover the world around us.
Just being outside is such a blessing. And waking up in a tent? My favorite.
I love campfire food. I love s’mores. I love finding salamanders with the kids and splashing in the creek. I love hiking tall mountains and climbing on rocks. What could be more wholesome for our children?
One of my favorite things that we always do when camping is worship time. Sabbath morning worship is always special and we always go to the amphitheater for family church during our annual family camp out. Although, we will have worship on every campout – even when there is no amphitheater available. Just singing songs around the campfire and listening to a devotion is memorable.
Camping is a great opportunity to spend quality time with the family.If you are going camping with kids and want to relax, don’t worry – it’s possible!
Kids have a lot of energy and can get bored easily if they are used to being on their phones or other electronic devices much of the time.
15 Tips for Camping with Kids to Make it Easier
So, while camping with kids can be a challenge, there are things you can do to make it easier on yourself as well as your children. These tips will help make camping with kids less frustrating and more enjoyable for everyone involved!
#1 Pack plenty of activities.
There are so many things you can do when camping that will keep your little ones entertained! Here are some ideas for activities to bring on your next camping trip:
- Bring activities like coloring books, crayons, and bubbles so they’ll have something to do when it isn’t mealtime or nap time.
- Buckets and shovels: You can’t go wrong with classic outdoor playtime! Whether they did in the dirt or collect minnows in the creek, a bucket and shovel offer so much potential for fun! The cleanup easy too because all the pieces store inside one bucket when not in use.
- Magnifying glass: It’s never too early for science exploration! Encourage their curiosity by letting them explore nature up close with this magnifying lighted pocket microscope.
- Bug jar: I can’t remember how many bugs my kids have collected over the years, but suffice to say, it was always fun!
- Binoculars: Explore faraway places like wildlife, mountains, or a distant landmark together through these.
- Fishing poles or bait hooks, tackle, and lures. You can’t go wrong with fishing!
- Card games, checkers, dominoes, etc. (bring something different than what you would play at home).
- Books about animals or outdoor games like “I Spy” with pictures of animals instead of objects from around the campsite. Kids love this game!
#2 Bring something they love
If your child has a favorite toy or blanket to sleep with, be sure to bring it along on your campout. But you don’t have to just bring a favorite blankey. You can also just bring a few things from home that they love and play with regularly to make the transition to staying at a campsite more familiar. This is especially important for younger kids.
#3 Consider your tent size
If you have young children who won’t be sleeping in their own tent, make sure your tent is big enough for everyone inside. You want everyone to be comfortable!
#4 Bring snacks and drinks that need no refrigeration
Some ideas for snacks that don’t need refrigeration are:
- granola bars
- fresh fruit like, apples, bananas, oranges
- trail mix
- nuts and dried fruit
#5 Don’t forget bug spray!
Itchy skin is no fun. Be sure to pack your favorite bug spray to keep mosquitoes and ticks away.
#6 Don’t overcomplicate your meals. Keep it simple.
Especially if you are newer to camping – keep your meals simple! You don’t have to try all new recipes on your first campout – or ever really (although I’m all for trying out new recipes!!)
Plan your menu and choose basic foods you already know how to prepare that your family will enjoy.
#7 Print out some fun activities
You can print out some fun camping activities and printables for your kids to enjoy during quiet times.
#8 Teach your kids a new camping skill
Some new skills you can teach your kids while camping are:
- how to use a knife
- how to build a campfire
- how to roast marshmallows or hot dogs
- how to collect firewood
- how to pitch a tent
- how to cook over the campfire
- how to make a homemade water filter
- how to identify plants and trees
- learn about edible plants
There are so many new things you can learn while camping!
#9 Set up a play/ toy tent
If you have young children, a play tent or toy tent is a great way to keep them occupied – and especially good if it rains!
#10 Plan to take it easy.
Relax and enjoy the time together with no pressure! You don’t need to schedule every moment of your camping trip. Enjoy the quiet time, rest, play, and just take it easy!
#11 Pack some of your kids’ favorite foods
Plan to make some of your child’s favorite foods lie macaroni and cheese or hot dogs so they’ll feel more at home while camping out in nature.
#12 Let them explore the campground with you.
Go on hikes together and point out things along the way. Teach them about the world around them! There is so much to learn about the world and children are like sponges. They soak it up!
#13 Share their excitement.
So often I see parents discourage their kids from exploring nature. Or worse, encourage their children to be afraid. If your child brings you a frog or gets excited about a spider, share their excitement! Learn about it. Teach them how intricate nature is.
On the flip side of that – if you have a child who is unsure and nervous about nature, encourage her to be adventurous and to get out explore and get her hands dirty.
#14 Tell stories and sing songs around the campfire.
Precious memories are made with your family around the campfire. Tell funny stories (or if your kids are older and they like scary, go ahead and tell a few spooky stories too!) Sing songs, enjoy worship together, roast marshmallows, and keep warm by the fire under the light of the moon and stars.
#15 Don’t worry too much about bedtimes.
Let them stay up a little late and enjoy the campfire. Camping memories will last a lifetime. Make it magical.
Camping with kids is so much fun and it’s good for them too! If you have any other helpful hints or tricks, please share them in the comments below.
I’m looking forward to hearing what works best for you guys on making family campouts more enjoyable! What are your favorite ways to keep children entertained on a campout? Your thoughts would be greatly appreciated!