Camping With Kids: A Stress Free Guide For Parents

It should be no secret by now that we love camping, and we think camping with kids can be an incredibly rewarding experience, but only if you plan it properly, so we're going to help you do just that. There are a lot of tips and tricks we've developed over the years that will save you a ton of headaches and also ensure that everyone has a safe and enjoyable experience, so read on and let's get you camping!

It should be no secret by now that we love camping, and we think camping with kids can be an incredibly rewarding experience, but only if you plan it properly, so we’re going to help you do just that. There are a lot of tips and tricks we’ve developed over the years that will save you a ton of headaches and also ensure that everyone has a safe and enjoyable experience, so read on and let’s get you camping!

Choose Your Campground Wisely

Of all the tips and tricks we are going to give you, this one is by far the most important. Making sure you pick a campground that has the right mix of requirements for your family will ensure that everything else goes according to plan as well. A lot of the private campgrounds have been becoming more and more family friendly, offering playgrounds, kid friendly bathrooms, restaurants and more, so when you’re looking to plan your trip, make sure that you pick a campground that has what you need on site.

There will inevitably come a time during your camping trip that you’ll need something to entertain your kids with, because they will only sit still for so long, so having a playground on site will be a big help in keeping them occupied. Also, be sure to check for area attractions as often times you can find a campground that is nearby to amusement parks, shopping centers, and towns which will give you some fallback options in case you find yourself needing to give your kids a change of pace.

If you need help finding a campground near you that fits the bill, check our campground directory or ask our Camping Concierge for help!

Plan Your Meals Ahead Of Time

As a parent, you know preparation is key to a lot of things, and meals when camping is certainly one of them. Bring plenty of snacks your kids will like and do as much prep work for your meals before you leave home as possible. This will help to keep cook times and mess down to a minimum when it comes time to eat, so you can focus on feeding your family and not having to deal with a lot of prep or mess at the same time.  Simplicity is the name of the game here.

Don’t Be A Hero

This one is pretty important too – there’s no need to be a hero and ‘rough it’ more than you have to. Often times people will think that because they are camping and trying to teach their children the values of going camping that they have to be the ultimate example of living off the land – there is absolutely no shame in leaving the campground and running into town to pickup a pizza for your kids instead of forcing them to cook their food over a camp fire.  If your kids are into campfire cooking, even better, but if not – don’t force the issue. You’ll be much happier easing them into the camping experience and letting them take to it at their own pace rather than trying to force things on them and have them rebel away from it.

Get The Kids Involved

Camping is an excellent teaching opportunity for your kids – you can teach them a huge variety of life skills from planning ahead, picking up after yourself, respect for nature and so on – but again – don’t force it.  Your kids aren’t going to enjoy the trip if you spend too much time trying to force knowledge on them. Instead, look for ways to get them involved in what you are doing, and lead by example.  If you get your kids to help you cook dinner, not only will they learn some important things about cooking over a campfire, but they’ll also feel like they’ve contributed (very important!) and also they’ll be making memories which one day they’ll want to share with their children!

The Right Gear Is Important

Having the right gear is a very important part of planning a successful trip, so make sure to plan ahead and bring kid-sized chairs, a warm enough sleeping bag, some extra head lamps, and some glow sticks.  Chances are pretty strong your kids will like playing with the flashlights and glow sticks which makes it fun for them at night, but more importantly it also will be very helpful for you to keep track of them after the sun sets.

The Bare Essentials

Above and beyond the items mentioned above, there are some pretty basic things you’ll want to keep in mind:

  • Bring a first aid kit and make sure you check it before you leave. Keep it in a spot where everyone knows where it is.
  • Once you get to the campsite, set boundaries and identify landmarks.  Knowing where home base is will be helpful in case any one wanders off.
  • Point out the possible dangers such as poison ivy and remind your kids not to touch things they don’t know what they are.
  • Review your fire safety rules – no playing around the campfire, keep your distance, make sure the fire is put out, etc.
  • Give your kids a whistle or walkie talkies – this will be very helpful should you ever get separated, they’ll be able to signal to you and you can track them down.

The Most Important Rule

Have fun! Camping with your kids is supposed to be a fun and enjoyable experience that both you and your kids will look back on for years and years to come, so be sure to have fun and don’t take things too seriously.  There’s been tons of studies that show that children who spend time in nature are overall happier, and even more studies that show children who spend time with their parents are happier as well, so combining those things and spending quality time in nature with your kids is a hands down win in our book.

If you have some personal tips or tricks you’ve picked up from camping with your kids, we’d love to hear them, so feel free to share them in the comments below!

Jim Sabellico

Jim Sabellico

Jim Sabellico is the founder of TakeMeCamping.org, and an avid outdoors fan who loves traveling the world with his family, cooking over an open campfire and all things outdoorsy. When Jim isn't camping, he's running his marketing agency J. Louis.

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