I’ve always loved camping. Ever since I learned what camping was, I’d always take a few days just to set a tent at a campground and enjoy a nice barbeque with my boyfriend (who is now my husband). I always loved the peace and tranquility of a camping evening, away from the fuss of the city. The hiking, the disconnection from all technology—it brings me some peace of mind.
However, things changed when we had kids. For a long time, I couldn’t exactly approach camping because it’s not very easy to take babies to a campground. Eventually, my two kids grew a bit—and now that they know how to walk and play by themselves, I decided that a camping trip was finally due.
Then came another slight problem: my kids have a never-ending amount of energy, they get easily bored, and can never stay put for more than a few minutes. When they do, it’s probably because they want to watch cartoons or play with their Game Boys and whatnot. If I wanted to take them camping, I had to come up with a plan—and adhering to it probably saved my future camping trips.
Researching the Area is Key
Since we were going with the kids, I couldn’t exactly pick an area that required a lot of hiking or walking. I knew that if I did, my kids would trip, cry, and possibly complain before we even got halfway to where we were headed.
This is why, when we go camping, we usually choose a place that could be easily accessed by car or at least does not have such a great walking distance. Hills are good, but nothing too steep—otherwise, it may lead to hurt knees, and again, the sound of crying.
Make Setting up Quick
As mentioned, my kids get bored—very fast, I would say. If I don’t give them my undivided attention for more than a few minutes, they do whatever it takes to make sure I look at them—and most of the time, this also ends with accidents and crying.
This is why I had to find equipment that is appropriate for family camping. We got one of those instant tents that take a few seconds to install. Before the kids even have time to complain, they already have a new “home” to explore.
We also got a few instant foldable chairs and a desk that only take a couple of minutes to assemble. We even brought some kid-sized tables and chairs, because our smallest would probably have problems eating at the big table.
We also set up a list of helpful chores for them as well. Not only would it keep them busy and entertained, but it would also help us out. Here are some ideas for the little ones that we often use:
- Help us clear the rocks from the area where we are planning to pitch the tent
- Gather sticks for the campfire
- Help secure the tent to the ground (depending on the tent you have)
- Help carry the pillows, sleeping bags, and everything else to the tent
- Help enclose the fire pit with rocks
- Walk around the campsite to find the items you need (obviously, with a parent)
- Help ensure food is put away
- Sweep out the tent when you are done
- Carry trash to the dumpsters
No matter how my kids complain of these things at home, they love to do it at a campsite. It was a different environment and I’m guessing that helped kept their interest.
Find the Activities That Are Right for Them
This was perhaps the most challenging part of camping. If I didn’t choose the activities carefully, my kids would be complaining that they want to go home in two hours at most. This is why I stacked up with as many family games as possible.
Luckily for me, I love playing games, and my kids love it too. I often take a couple of board games with me, as well as yard games (such as volleyball or badminton). Both of them love these two games in particular. With that in mind, we also have a list of other ideas, including:
- Nature hikes or walks (we always check to make sure they are family-friendly)
- Scavenger hunts
- Building sandcastles if we are camping at the beach
- Swimming in the lake (always with the parents, and always with life jackets)
- Making s’mores (can’t do without)
- Singing songs and telling stories around the campfire
We try to do as many as possible from this list of activities—but obviously, it depends on the location. On the first camping trip, for instance, we didn’t build a sandcastle—but we did it on the second one when we went to the beach.
We Survived Camping!
Yes, it took a lot of planning. But by the end of it, my kids grew to love camping, from the very first trip we took. Now, they’re the ones continuously asking “Mom, when are we going camping again?” It seems they cannot wait for the next adventure!