Camping and kids go hand-in-hand — campfires, sleeping outdoors, and of course, S’mores! But if you’re not prepared, a lot of the fun can get lost in the work. Use these five tips to help you plan a camping weekend your family will always remember.
Plan For the Worst
Hopefully your camping trip will be full of warmth and sunshine. But while you hope for the best, plan for the worst. Rain happens, and temperatures fall, so bring long pants, fleece sweaters, dry socks, rain gear, and comfy pajamas. Nothing will kill the joy of a camping trip faster than the cranky whining of cold kids.
Get Good Gear
Camping gear can be expensive, but once you buy it, you’ll have it for years, and you can use it over and over again. Get a tent roomy enough for your family to hang out in if the weather gets bad, get air mattresses to give you a comfy nights sleep, and warm sleeping bags that will keep you toasty if the temperature dips at night.
Bonus tip: Set up your tent in your home or backyard before you take it out on the road. Label all the poles for easy setup once you get to your campsite – this also makes it easier for the kids to help set up camp. And always lay down a tarp underneath your tent!
Bring Lots Of Light
Camping is dark. Like really, really dark. It’s beautiful for watching the stars at night, but the dark can make it difficult to get children to go to the bathroom and get ready for bed. It can also be a little scary for little ones experiencing campsite darkness for the first time. Take plenty of good camping lanterns, flashlights and even headlamps (kids love those!) to make sure there is enough light to keep you and the kids comfortable.
Plan Your Meals
Save yourself some time and hassle by prepping a few meals before you go. Pre-made frozen stews, chillis and pasta dishes thaw in the cooler and make great dinners on cool evenings. Sandwiches are perfect for hiking lunches. Hot chocolate and warm oatmeal is easy to make and will get your little ones out from under their sleeping bags on chilly mornings.
Give Each Kid Their Own Backpack
Give each of your kids their own backpack with a headlamp, bottle of water, tissues, a whistle and a snack. Not only will it keep them self-sufficient if you go hiking, but letting the kids help you pack these bags before you go will get them interested in the trip even before you’re out the door.
For all the effort, camping with kids can be a lot of fun, and can help teach kids about the environment, self-sufficiency, compromise and personal responsibility. With a little planning beforehand, you and your kids will have the time of your lives.