The goal of course is to get your kids outside. All the studies show that getting kids to enjoy and spend time outdoors is healthy for them, but where do you start if you have never camped before as a family? First of all start researching campgrounds nearby and get the whole family engaged in selecting a destination. There are so many places to go. Once you have picked a place to camp, here are a few other things to consider:
Tips for Kid Camping
- Pick a place close to home so you can bail if bad weather hits or someone has a medical emergency.
- Only go for a night or two the first time out so that everyone wants to do it again. Go back to the same place so memories are created.
- Keep some of your normal at home routines on the trip like reading bedtime stories to younger children.
- Create some new traditions such as telling stories around a campfire, flashlight tag, and family cooking efforts. Camping tasks can be fun so give mom a break by making each person responsible for their own clothes, tents, and dishes.
- Get plenty of exercise hiking or paddling so everyone sleeps well.
- Learn about the flora and fauna, local rivers and ridges, and local rock types so everyone is on the outlook for new things.
- Explain the sounds at night so they become friends and not something scary.
- Be sure to take naps if needed so no one gets over-tired. Stay up for a while to watch the skies at night. Learn some of the constellations.
- Take plenty of water in reusable containers so everyone stays hydrated. Take a first aid kit, hats, sunscreen, insect repellent, and allergy medicine.
- Practice using sleeping bags, taking long walks, and learning water and forest safety before you go.
By now there are probably lots of ideas swirling around in your head, but the most important thing is to do it. Go book a weekend right now. Then have fun and be sure to teach your children about how they can protect our special places by following the rules and leaving no trash behind.
Other good resources:
And a Few Tips for Taking a Baby
Sleep Options: Use a portable crib if you have a large tent; Co-sleeper or Moses Basket if a small tent.
Nap Options: Tents can get hot during the day if they have no screens, so think of other options such as a mosquito net for a car seat.
White Noise: Camping by a river is great for white noise or download a white noise mobile app (be sure to turn ringer off).
Baby Monitor: You can use your cell phones as a baby monitor if needed – put both phones on speaker setting and place a phone call between them – phone by parent is muted.
Be prepared for temperature fluctuations: Expect it to be cooler or wetter than you would think. Take layers or fleece sleep sack, or extra warm socks and a hat.
Nature Warnings: Be sure you know what poison ivy looks like and keep your eyes out for ground bees.
Mobility – Backpacks and carriers are useful not just for hikes but for working around the campsite and fireplace.
Start your kids early and keep a positive attitude. Don’t stay up too late because the tent will get light when the sun comes up, and so your kids will rise early.
Have fun…you are creating memories.
Take-a-way: It is never too soon to take your kids camping…or too late. Even if they complain, they will probably remember these family vacations more than others.