If you are an outdoor loving parent, it’s only natural that you want to create similar outdoor memories with my family. A key component to the outdoors adventures with kids is making them our own and not being locked into a box about how things should look. If you’re thinking about camping with your family and are not sure where to start, we have put together a few tips to get you started and on your way!
Get the kids involved
Kids as young as 3 may be able to communicate what they do and don’t like. Take some time to pick their little brains and let them know their input matters.
Decide on camp style
While some may disagree, there are quite a few styles of camping. If your family isn’t ready to jump into tent camping in the woods, there’s no shame in choosing a different type of camp setup. It's better to start progressive, maybe start in the comfort of a bedroom, and eventually graduated to backyard camping. Hitting up the backyard is the perfect segue, as all the comforts of home are readily available when you needed. Suppose your kids are ready to sleep outside but aren’t into the idea of leaving said amenities behind. In that case, Glamping may be an excellent option for your family or even cabin camping. Both provide amenities that allow you to connect to nature without totally roughing it. For families with small kids, choosing one of these options could make the difference between raising kids that love the outdoors vs. ones that hate it.
Amp up the excitement
Staying up late playing new games is just one way to make a night of camping even more fun. Whether in a cabin, tent, or RV, we recommend to bring at least one new game to help entertain the kids. These also come in handy when the weather is saying, “stay in.” Bikes, skates, and scooters are also great for exploring campgrounds and meeting other families.
It may be tempting to bring all of your belongings, but try not to overdo it. Packing only the necessities keeps things simple and the load light. It makes trips with kids so much easier and there’s less worry of leaving something behind when it’s time to go. If you’re tent camping and your family is on the larger side, make sure your tent is big enough for everyone to be comfortable. There’s nothing worse than having to be on top of others while camping.
Routines are key
Are your kids used to a specific routine at home? If so, you should stick to it as much as possible. Kids thrive when they know what to expect, and while camping may be new, they’ll find comfort in the things that are just like home. Keeping a similar routine can reduce stress and anxiety for both kids and parents, making for a smoother, more enjoyable trip.
Leave the electronics at home
Besides cameras and a Bluetooth speaker, try not to use electronics very much when camping. Help your kids connect to what’s happening around them by leaving tablets and video games at home. They’ll be so much more inclined to play and explore when you do. We understand this isn’t always feasible, or maybe you just don’t want to do it. In both cases, a few apps that help keep the focus on being outdoors can be downloaded before your trip. We like Seek for looking up plants, trees, and animals and SkyView for looking up constellations. Remember, it’s about flexibility, not perfection, so if having and using electronics is what makes your camping trip better, do what works for you!
Try an outdoor activity
There’s no shortage of outdoor activities, and camping is a great time to incorporate a few or a lot. Removing electronics from the equation tends to free up a lot of time. This is a great chance to really create lasting family memories through outdoor activities. Most campgrounds will provide access to hiking trails at the very least, but some even have boat rentals, beaches, and piers for fishing. Get out, explore, and let your kids discover the best parts of being outside!
Make food fun
Letting them help plan foods they consider “fun” means they won’t have a problem eating. If you’re new to camping, it may not be the best time to try new foods (remember those routines). You want to make sure your kids will actually eat, so that they’re energized for all the activities you have planned. Whatever you decide, keep the kids in mind, make the ordinary interesting, and they’ll be happy campers.
Whether you’re excited about the food, sleeping in a tent, or trying new outdoor activities, remember to keep things fun. If you keep fun as the focus, you’ll have a successful and memorable experience!
Not ready for a National Park adventure just yet? Stick to your kids’ comfort levels as long as you want! And when you’re ready to try out a new spot.