Camping outdoors is a great way for families to spend quality time together, but it can sometimes get stressful for parents, especially those with small children. Planning and preparation are the keys to success in any event, so take a little time before your outing to plan some fun camping activities for the kids as well as the whole family.
To make things easier on you and your children, pack each day’s clothing in a separate plastic bag. At night, your little ones can return their dirty clothes to the bag and keep their clean items separate from the dirty laundry. Allow each child to choose a toy or two to bring along, but encourage them to keep it simple. Books, stuffed animals, or puzzle magazines are good choices.
Provide each child with their own flashlight for the camping trip. A personal light is not only fun for kids, it can make them feel more comfortable in the dark night air. Flashlights or personal lanterns allow children to read before bed, make shadow puppets in their tent, and make it safely to the bathroom at night. You may consider giving each child a Coleman for kids Illumistick when the sun goes down. Once activated the cool glow stick will provide light for up to twelve hours, long enough to make it until sunrise.
Enlist each child’s help in preparation, meal time, and planning activities. Let young children help make trail mix for the trip and older children can pack their own suitcases. Plan one major activity each day, like hiking, horseback riding, or kayaking, and allow your children to explore the outdoors in their own way the rest of the time. Allow older children to help prepare meals and assign everyone a meal time duty, like setting the table or cleaning up.
Review your family camping rules before leaving for your trip and again when you set up camp. Remind your young children to stay within your view and older children to never go out of earshot. If your school age children are sleeping in their own tent, pitch the tent next to yours and provide them with a whistle in case they get lost or hurt while playing. Review the rules of nature etiquette with your children as well. Remind them to keep their voices down and to never pick the flowers or disturb the animals. Tell your children to stay on the marked trails while hiking and to always throw away their trash.
When you are camping with children, safety is usually a primary concern. Always carry a first aid kit with bandages, antibiotic cream, pain reliever, and any allergy medications. Remind your children that they can only play near fire or water if an adult is supervising the activity and make them avoid areas with ledges or steep drops while alone. Keep children in the middle if you go hiking or horseback riding to protect them from falls, snakes, and becoming lost and remember to check everyone for ticks each night.