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Tips for Camping with Kids
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Family Campers

Photo by Essential Travel

By Paulina Stankiewicz

"If we could see the miracle of a single flower clearly, our whole life would change." - Buddhist quote

Camping provides an engaging context for you to educate your kids and build special memories for them to take into adulthood. If you follow these 'how to' tips on planning and executing the perfect camping trip, your kids should come away from the experience enriched, and you'll be strengthening family bonds too:

Teaching with Nature
Before you leave, let the kids choose their own tents, blunt pocket knives and even first aid kits, as this will get them excited about 'outdoor survival'. You may also want to bring along some nature reference books so that they can learn to name birds and flowers, or let them help you plot hiking trips on a map.

When you're at the campsite:

  • Teach safety, survival skills and patience: for example how to light a fire carefully, put up a tent or use a whistle to call for help
  • Teach outdoor ethics and how to respect nature: for example "no littering, leave the campsite how you found it, and be mindful of the plants and animals"
  • Rally the troops for camp chores: kids will enjoy collecting firewood and preparing camp food, and feel like they're contributing
  • Teach about the trees and stars: there is no better classroom for astronomy than the night sky, unmarred by city lights, and no better place for the family to learn botany and zoology together than on a hike.

Preparing for an Active Holiday
These days, many children will choose to play video games and sit on the computer in favour of sports and playing outside. But you can combat this lethargy with a carefully planned camping trip.

  • Research online or chat to friends to find camping sites with hiking trails suitable for children and take a baby carrier or backpack for the little ones
  • Look for campsites that are popular among families, and take a football or rugby ball, so that your kids make friends while getting fit
  • Take along your fishing rods and bicycles to while away those long lazy days
  • Pack all your swimming gear including rubber tubes, lilos, waterproof Frisbees and sun screen to allow your kids hours of wonderful water fun.

Packing for Budget Camping
With the recent economic downturn, it's no surprise that many families are having trouble budgeting for their annual family holidays. Fortunately camping provides a solution to this, but even camping can become expensive without proper planning. Follow these tips for camping like a scrooge, and loving it:

  • Pack plenty of tinned food and a can opener if you don't want to find yourself driving to the closest Pizza Hut every evening
  • Take an electric cooler box or small portable bar fridge if your campsite has power-points to keep your meat and dairy fresh
  • Pack dried fruit, nuts, cereal bars, cereal and long-life milk
  • Remember your aluminum kettle for making coffee on the fire
  • Bring wood, charcoal and firelighters with you - they are likely to be more expensive at the campsite
  • Pack juice concentrate and bottles, so that you can make cold drinks at the campsite rather than handing out cash for canned sodas
  • If there are opportunities for fishing, catch your own supper

Planning to go Green
Camping makes for an environmentally-friendly holiday for eco-conscious travellers. While you're camping, you can put your green habits into practice by recycling and not wasting anything:

  • Take along a picnic set with plastic knives, forks and plates and avoid using paper plates
  • Take along a green bag to throw all your cans and boxes in so that you can drop them off at the recycle depot on your way home
  • Stick to non-perishable foods such as packet soups and crackers so that nothing spoils
  • Reuse cans for the kids' games, such as tenpin bowling, or to collect pretty rocks, autumn leaves, flowers or shells

Starting a Family Tradition
When you're camping in the woods, away from the stress and fast pace of everyday life, you can easily disconnect from the real world. It's an opportunity to leave your laptop at home, put your phone on silent, and simply focus on spending time with your family. Children love being the centre of attention and seeing their parents and older siblings participate in activities with them, so match their enthusiasm and curiosity by digging in the dirt and exploring alongside your little ones.

Bonus tip: If you're planning a family holiday, don't forget to insure your family against accidents and mishaps that could happen while you're camping.

For more useful tips on how to have a relaxing and fun camping trip with your kids, visit the Camping How To Guide.

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