Thinking of tackling the great outdoors, for the first time, with your kids? Camping quickly becomes a favorite family summer tradition when done right.
Before the Overnight Trip
- Do a trial run at home. Start small by camping in the living room or basement to get everyone used to being out of their beds. This is a great idea when you’re taking a young toddler or child out of the comfort of their room/bed for the first time.
- Once you’ve mastered the indoor pseudo-camping experience, try pitching a tent in the backyard. This will give you a good idea of what you’ll need to bring to the actual campground and what can be left behind (this is a good time for parents to take notes)
For the Campground
- Organize and map out your camp site. You’ll want young kids to be familiar with their surroundings – where is the potty? Where is the water? Flashlights? Unsafe areas (like the fire pit) and so on. You can make this a fun activity upon arrival by bringing along bristol board and markers and having everyone draw out the map to post up on a tree
- Identify landmarks. Make sure all family members know the campsite number, major markers like unique trees/stumps/plants/ signs etc
- Establish routine. Kids will adjust easier to the new experience if you stick (somewhat) to their normal schedule. Try to eat, sleep, play and rest at similar times – especially if you’r camping with young kids. Overtired or hungry children are not happy campers!
- Stay organized and avoid clutter. You’ll want things to be found easily so try to keep everything in its place.
- Encourage involvement. Have kids help set up the tent, gather firewood, hunt for bugs and other fun outdoorsy “chores.” This will help them feel important and as though they’re contributing to the experience.
- Safety first! Attach an ID card, write down a contact cell number and affix a whistle to your child when you’re venturing away from the site. If he/she gets lost you’ll want others to find you easily. Teach your child to blow the whistle if they’re every frightened, lost or separated from you.
Overall, camping is an exciting, fun year-round activity that many families do annually. It’s relatively inexpensive and gets everyone back to their roots in nature. It’s really never too soon to start. If your kids are showing an interest and you feel capable, then go for it!