Camping can be a really great, and usually fairly inexpensive way to get away and spend time together as a family. Being in the outdoors can help children reset from the fast paced, often electronic-focused world.  In order to make the camping trip successful for all, it’s important to consider a few factors.

Food

Having easy and readily available snacks for children can be very helpful.  Plan your meals in advance so that you can be sure to have everything you need. It’s also good to know if you will be cooking over a campfire, using a propane stove, or just making sandwiches. Kids can be picky eaters at time and camping is definitely not the best time to experiment with new foods. Knowing what your children likes to eat and keeping it simple will help to make the trip more successful. Plan fun cooking as well such as campfire hotdogs, s’mores, and banana boats!

Camping Trip Activities

Every campsite offers different things, so it can be helpful to do some research in advance so that you are prepared. Hiking trails, swimming, canoeing, bike riding, even horseback riding can be options when camping with kids. If you know in advance what activities are available, it will allow you to pack accordingly so that you have everything you and your children need to enjoy the experience to the fullest. Plan your own fun outdoor activities as well, such as building fairy houses.

Down Time

There will always be some down time between planned activities when the children need things to do. Bringing along a bag of activities from home that your children will enjoy can help them to stay busy and engaged. This could include a few of their favorite toys, board games, books, and art supplies. It’s helpful to include items that your child can use both independently as well as with other members of the family.

Sleep

Depending on the ages of your children, they may or may not be sharing a tent with you. For younger children, ensuring that they have a comfortable sleeping set up will help everyone to get more rest and feel ready to go the next day. Air mattresses can often deflate during the night causing discomfort and restlessness. Stacking one or two eggshell mattresses together can provide a softer, more consistently comfortable place to sleep. Having a battery operated sound machine can also help to drown out some of the noise from other campers nearby.

Camping Trip Safety

During the warmer months, be sure to have plenty of sunscreen and bug spray. A sunburn or legs full of itchy bites can make children very unhappy. It’s also important to be able to recognize hazardous plants like poison ivy and poison sumac. Keep young children away from the campfire as well and be sure that fires are completely extinguished prior to leaving your campsite or going to bed. Avoiding these hazards will help everyone in the family have a more enjoyable experience.

Additionally, being aware of the type of animals living in the area where you are camping is very important. Being aware of snakes – most of which are typically non poisonous, raccoons, bears, and other animals can help keep children safe. Always keep food sealed in an airtight container (preferably inside a car, if possible). Never store food inside your tent so that animals are not tempted to enter your space.  

It can be helpful to always have a first aid kit handy just in case there are any incidents. Keeping children safe and happy will make your camping experience more successful for all.

Have Fun!

Camping with children is a wonderful way to help children to explore the environment and get to know their natural world. Being prepared and planning ahead will help to make your camping experience both fun and successful for your children and you!

About The Author

Sarah PSarah Proctor has worked with young children for over 25 years as a teacher, childcare director, nanny, and mom of two girls. She has her Bachelors Degree in Early Childhood Education and Administration from UMass Amherst. In addition, Sarah has her Director 2 certification from the Department of Early Education and Care.