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Many people loved camping as young adults or may have even grown up camping with their families or with scouts. But when you’re considering taking your own family camping for the first time, the idea may be intimidating. The rewards so greatly outweigh any risks, however, and it can be a great introduction to them learning to love the outdoors for the rest of their lives. But first you need some basic tips that will make camping with your kids so much easier.
Camping with Kids: 5 Tips for the Beginners!
If you’ve never taken your kids camping before, the first thing you’ll want to do is familiarize them with the concept. Going on day camping or day trips, hikes, and bike rides are a great start. Just get them used to being outdoors together so that overnight trips will come easily. It is easy to forget that kids get tired much faster than adults. When they walk, it may take them three times as many steps for your one stride, so short hikes are a good way to start. Once you’ve spent some time outdoors together on little adventures, talk to them about camping! Some people like to practice camping at home, pitching a tent in their backyard. Your kids will likely love this as it’s a fun, new experience.
The Right Gear
If you plan on tent camping with kids, after choosing a comfortable family camping tent, make sure that you know how to set up the tent easily and that you know your gear well. If you’re all going to be in one tent, test it out first to see if there is enough room for everyone to be comfortable. Depending on their age, you can have the kids practice setting it up with you so that they’re involved in the process from the outset.
Maybe you don’t have a lot of camping gear, but you still want to go out with your family. There are alternatives to tent camping. Some options include cabin rentals. Many campsites and national parks offer cabins or yurts to rent. This would be a great option with your family because you can still go camping without the hassle of setting up and tearing down as much.
Another option, if you’re not into the tent camping thing, would be car camping If you have a hatchback or minivan, you may be able to reconfigure the seats to add a folding mattress or air mattress. You could add some bedding and string lights to make it extra cozy for everyone. Depending on the size of your car, this is also very safe because you can lock yourself in and leave the windows cracked for ventilation.
Keeping Everyone Happy
Children cannot always express themselves well with words, so it can be hard to know what they want or need. Think about their habits and the things they like to have and do at home. Do they have a book they read every night or a stuffed animal they sleep with? Bring it with you. What’s more, pack lots of snacks that are easy to eat during the day, between meals. Consider healthy, easy-to-grab snacks like string cheese or fruit.
You’ll want to check the weather in advance. Also plan to pack layers to wear for yourself and the kids. You may get too hot or too cold, so you want to have lots of options to regulate your temperature.
Being away from home can be exciting and tiring for little ones. Especially if you’re going out hiking, the kids will need a naptime. But even if they don’t, you’ll want them to! Make naptime easier by making the beds in the tent (or wherever you’re sleeping) so that its ready for napping.
Having Fun Together
The bottom-line of camping with your family is that you want to have fun together. If your kids are used to having lots of things to do at home or school all day, you’ll want to make sure they have plenty of things to do when you’re away. Taking a long hike or bike ride is a great way to tire everyone out before naptime. Depending on your camping area, bikes, scooters, or roller skates are nice for the kids to have something fun to do at the campground.
Bring some outdoor toys, such as balls, frisbees, or dirt-friendly toys for little ones. This is a great opportunity to teach your kids about animals and nature, so you might like to have some educational activities planned as well. For older kids, you can show them how to read a map, use a star chart, look through binoculars, or identify different animal species. There are lots of great games to play outside for all ages, like a scavenger hunt, flashlight tag, or I-spy.
Staying Clean and Safe
Kids can get pretty messy at home, but even more so when they’re outside all day. At home, they can take a bath in the evening; but there may not be shower facilities where you’re camping. Pack lots of baby wipes, hand wipes, hand sanitizer, etc. for you and the kids to keep fresh while you’re camping. You’ll also want to pack a garbage bag for discarding any trash. Tie the garbage bag to an outdoor table while you’re using it, then take it out afterwards. If possible, secure it away from animals.
Along with keeping clean, you want your kids to be safe. Pack sunscreen and bug spray, which you should reapply throughout the day for protection. Accidents happen, so you’ll also want to have a small first-aid kit that is easy to access and to use.
Fire safety is another thing to consider if you’re going to make a campfire. Give each child his or her own camp chair that is a safe distance away.
Now that you have these tips about camping with kids, you are ready to go out camping with the whole family. It’s a great way to make lifetime memories together.