Kid-Friendly Camping Like a Pro
Many mothers feel a little overwhelmed at the thought of camping with their little ones for the first time, which is completely reasonable considering you’re going to be spending several days far away from the routine comforts of home. But a little discomfort never hurt anyone. Once you tackle that first camping trip, you’ll start to see the magic taking hold on your kiddos. It’s not always smiles and s’mores, but it’s all worth it.
Whether you’re camping with a toddler, a teenager or a whole troop of kids, the general preparation for your camping trip will remain relatively straightforward. The very first step is to select a campground, specifically one that offers you and your kids everything they might need. Some requirements could be on-site bathrooms, showers, hiking trails, cabins and the nearness of a major store or restaurants if you’re a little anxious about your first trip. Do you want to be on the water? If so, a lake or a stream? What is the distance of the campsite from your home?
Find out what interests your children or what activities they might be eager to take part in. If you’re going to be on the water, your children might want to learn to kayak (granted they are old enough) or they might want to get floaties and spend lazy days in the sun. Perhaps they want to fish or find little critters around the campground. Know what intrigues them and plan ahead.
Another idea is to bring so kids can pick out rocks from around the campground or water and spend hours painting in the sun and hiding the rocks around the campground for others to find. This is a cheap way to keep your kids giggling for hours.
When it comes to packing, it’s best to have each of your children do their own. You should always double check their bag before you leave, but allowing them to pack for themselves will give you more time to get everything else ready and loaded up.
If you’re only going for a couple nights then your food requirements will be much less complicated than a week-long camping trip. Make sure you put a decent amount of thought into your camp kitchen. Consider each meal you plan to make, list out all of the ingredients and utensils needed.
The best camp meals are ones that require little effort and clean up. No one likes doing dishes, especially on vacation. One way to avoid this is to cut up various raw veggies, meats and toppings into Tupperware containers and toss them into the cooler along with a massive roll of tinfoil and a stick of butter. Once settled into camp and dinner time rolls around, you can pull out your supplies and everyone gets to serve up their own selection of items from chunks of chicken or beef, to broccoli or carrots. Everyone fills their own piece of tin foil with their food and a dollop of butter, folds it up into their own unique design or animal and tosses it on the fire to cook. Ta Da! .
If you’ve decided to use a tent, make sure you have all of the needed sleeping supplies. Depending on the weather, you may need a sleeping bag and an extra blanket, even if you only end up using it around the fire, it’s better than not having it.
When packing, make sure you consider the little things: a first aid kit, games, camp chairs and loungers, , bug spray and sunscreen. Someone is likely to get burnt anyway, so bring aloe and other sunburn soothing remedies.
Campsite Do’s and Don’ts
Once you arrive at the campsite, you need to do a quick run through to make sure there is no broken glass, trash or other hazardous materials lying around.
Show your kids the boundary of your campsite, especially if it sits directly up against another. Show them the way to the nearest bathrooms or showers and set out rules for having a buddy system so that no one gets lost. Most kids will be wary about getting lost at first and stick close by, but as they explore and they find their courage, they will want to venture out. It’s better for them to at least ask permission rather than flat out disappear.
Finally, when you leave your campground at the end of your stay, always be sure to leave it cleaner than you found it. Teach your children this concept early and they will carry that respect into adulthood.
Make It Memorable
Frankly, making the trip memorable should be at the top of your to-do list. After all, enjoying time with friends and family while appreciating the beautiful outdoors is the sole reason we go camping in the first place. Children are naturally hardwired to play and explore. Don’t try to control the fun by dictating their every move — breathe, relax and allow them to learn on their own. Sure they might skin their knee or topple over on the bike path, but they are kids, they’re supposed to try and fail and then try again. All you’re there for is observation, protection, and encouragement so join in and enjoy. Your kids will love playing with you, no matter how silly the game is, and the trip will become that much more memorable.
In today’s society technology runs rampant, but when you’re camping there is no need for these things. Bring a real book so you won’t freak out if you drop it in the dirt or the lake. Bring real games, like cards or Scrabble. Free your kids of those limitations and let their imagination and curiosity fuel their fun.