Camping with Kids: Tips for a Memorable Outdoor Adventure

If you’re taking on your first camping trip with your kids, it may seem overwhelming. But if you’re reading this, you’re well aware that any extra steps you have to take will be well worth it. Besides, we’re sure you’ve been through much tougher challenges. Camping is a great tool to teach your kids the importance of time away from devices and how to discover all the outdoors has to offer them. No screen can replace that experience.

You may be an expert, but bringing kids along is bound to throw you for a loop, or five. If you have lots of experience, and being outdoors is instinct for you at this point, be sure to walk through the basics with your kids.

Prioritize Safety

Of course, safety is the first priority. Go out of your way to involve your kids in how you assess any hazards. If you know there might be porcupines in the area, make sure they know what one looks like, what to do, etc. Or if you’re in the smokies, have some fun practicing how to yell at a bear and waving sticks around.

Establishing boundaries is essential. You want your children to feel a sense of freedom but also understand their responsibility for their safety. To be fair, you’ll have to adjust this concept based on your kid’s age. You can’t expect too much too young. If there are any slopes, waterways, or trees around that look a little too climbable, go over why those things are off-limits if you’re not right there with them.

kids camping in the woods exploring a field

Teach Outdoor Skills

Use this outing as an opportunity to teach your kids valuable outdoor skills such as navigation, fire-building, and wilderness survival. It will slow some things down, but it’s important for your kids to learn about the process. If you’re lucky and they catch on quickly, you’ll have the reward of a little helper for the rest of the trip. Involve them in setting up camp, gathering firewood, and cooking meals over the fire. By encouraging curiosity and exploration, you’ll instill a sense of confidence and self-reliance in your children as they learn to navigate the natural world.

kids at a campsite, helping set up a tent

Involve Kids in Planning

Get your kids excited about camping by involving them in the planning process. Schedules are just as important to kids as activities. Let them help choose the destination, select activities, and pack their own gear and clothes. Even if they’re still at an age where you’re making the clothing decisions, explain to them why they may need some of the practical items.

Giving kids a sense of ownership and responsibility will make them more enthusiastic about the trip. If you’re apprehensive about letting your children dictate the itinerary for your trip too much, you can always give them two or three promising options to choose from. It will make things a little easier for both you and your kids.

You can even involve them in the grocery shopping beforehand. You’re a parent, so of course you’ll be including snacks on that list. Depending on the kind of trip you’re going on and the different activities you’ll be doing, those snacks might need to be different than normal. Frame this as an exciting part of the camping experience and let them choose between flavors of various items you’ll need.

Rediscovering the outdoors through the eyes of your children will almost feel like you’re seeing it for the first time too. Be ready for potential twists and turns and take the inevitable disruptions in stride. Camping with your family will be its own new and wild adventure.

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