Taking your family camping is a fun and affordable way to enjoy some time off together in the great outdoors. Camping as a family has so many benefits, as spending time in nature is healthy for a child’s (and an adult’s) body, mind and spirit.
However, before you head off on your first family camping trip, there are several things to consider. Along with making sure that it’s an enjoyable experience, these tips can help you and your kids stay safe, comfortable and healthy while camping together.
Of course, you don’t want to overpack for a camping trip. But you can be prepared by bringing things like a bathing suit and water shoes, sweatpants, shorts and a rain jacket or hoodie.
You don’t have to be an avid camper to know that kids get dirty when they spend time outside. So, be ready for messes by creating a handwashing station out of a large, clean liquid laundry detergent container filled with water, soap, towels and a container for catching the water.
While it can be tempting to explore the area right when you arrive, setting up your campsite first is essential. Make sure you’ve picked out the best family tent for a secure and pleasant temporary home. You may also want to bring a portable play yard to keep the littlest campers safely contained while you sleep.
Of course, your top priority is keeping your kids safe. Some rules to incorporate while camping include staying together, establishing boundaries with markers, always wearing shoes, and never eating anything you find in the wilderness, such as berries or mushrooms.
Camping can be the perfect time to introduce kids to the “golden rules” of spending time in nature. Talk about regulations, fire safety and the effects of littering. Explain the importance of volume control when other campers or wildlife are nearby.
It might be tempting to try open-fire recipes to complete the camping experience, but if you have picky eaters, meals could turn into battles. Pack meals and snacks that are easy to make that your children will enjoy, such as fresh and dried fruits, sandwiches or hamburgers and hot dogs.
Inexpensive plastic drawers can have multiple uses on a campsite. You can use them to store your family’s clothing or for organizing your “kitchen pantry” and utensils.
Having a plan for your time will help your trip go more smoothly. Research the area before you go to find potential things to do, like boat rentals, hiking trails or mountain coasters. In addition, bring fun items such as water guns, playing cards and balls or outdoor games.
Spending time alone with your family has its merits, but inviting friends or extended family members along for the camping trip can be priceless. First, there is safety in numbers — the more eyes on kids, the better. It can also mean more fun for your child if they have playmates to help them pass the time.
It’s natural to want to pack every day full of activities and time together, but be sure to schedule some downtime, too. Relaxing around the campfire or enjoying afternoon naps in the fresh air can be rejuvenating.
Pitching your tent at a camping resort still allows you to enjoy and experience nature. However, a camping resort also offers access to amenities, such as swimming pools, planned activities and bathrooms. As a result, a resort can be ideal for your first camping experience as a family.
Camping can be highly educational. You can teach kids about plants, birds and wildlife. You can stargaze together and look for constellations. It can be the perfect way to introduce survival skills as well.
If there is one thing you can count on, it’s that things will rarely go exactly as planned. You might forget to pack a sleeping bag, or your child might prefer reading in a hammock over the nature hike you’ve been hyping. The focus of a camping trip is to spend time together without interruptions, whatever that might look like.
An unexpected thunderstorm, a bear swiping your food supply or a sudden fever can put a damper on camping. There is no shame in cutting your trip short or moving to a motel room where you order pizza. Remember that fun memories are far more meaningful than having a “perfect” camping trip.
Tricia is a professional writer and editor who lives in North Texas with her family and one smelly dog. She is a wannabe problem solver, junk food maven professional coffee practitioner, web guru and general communicator. Learn More.
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