Camping with Kids

Camping with adults is far different than having know how about camping with children, be they yours or the children of fellow campers. There are a lot of very positive lessons that children can learn from the outdoor experience, but most kids are going to through a certain amount of anxiety about being away from familiar surroundings especially without a TV set. How do you prepare the children in your party for a truly enjoyable trip, and for that matter how do you plan the right trip for children’s participation?

Obviously the answer to that question depends somewhat on the children’s ages, interests and behaviors. However, there’s one commonality. Any camping trip with children needs to have activities of some type regularly. Whether you’re fishing one day, watching game on another, or hiking yet another, just sitting around looking at trees is not going to be welcome. In fact, it’s a recipe for trouble. Bored children may wander off seeking their own adventure.

One of the most important things during your initial stages of readying for camping is to simply make sure you have what you need to insure a child is well cared for and feels secure. You want a good sleeping bag, extra blankets, their favorite pillow, and maybe even that silly teddy bear. Hey, bears live in the woods – and a youngster with a beloved stuffed animal will NOT want to leave it home just “because.” In younger children, sleeping is one of the most difficult aspects of the camping experience because of all the new noises. So, the additional benefit to packing those few extras is that it provides your child with a familiar comfort zone that will help them settle into the whole camping experience more quickly.

Secondarily, try to keep from making the preparations for camping and setting the camp itself into a dull chore. If you nag and rattle off orders, by the end of the day your family “crew” will want to quit. Come on; Get excited! Talk dynamically about how the various parts of your camp kitchen go together while you’re preparing it (and what kinds of foods you’re going to make together later), for example. Or, maybe teach them about fire safety and how to build a good camp fire while you gather wood. The more they see, the more they directly experience, the more involved children are in the whole process, the more likely they’ll be to have fun (and indirectly learn a few things too!). Remember your enthusiasm is contagious.

Don’t overlook the little things either. If this is a child’s first trip, that wooly little caterpillar could be an interesting diversion for a few minutes! Speaking of which, this is supposed to be a vacation. Release your need to plan everything out. Children are far more organic in their approach to nature than adults. They’re going to want to have a certain amount of freedom to jump in puddles, skip stones, or what ever else even if it wasn’t on your agenda at that moment. When this happens, don’t just stand there being frustrated – join them and have some fun!

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