Camping can be such a wonderful and fun experience, but when you consider bringing the kids along, things all of a sudden become a lot more complicated.  But camping with kids doesn’t have to be intimidating.  In this post, I want to share with you some great tips for making camping with kids less stressful and more fun.

If you are planning to come to any of the programs that we offer at our camp, these tips will be helpful as you plan for your trip. So let’s get started.

boys posing on boulder in woods at school field trip

Plan Early

First things first, if you want your trip to go nice and smooth, then it’s never to early to start planning.  Maybe you would like a certain camping spot at the campsite because of the unique benefits it offers for the kids to explore.  At most campgrounds sites fill up quickly.  The earlier you book the better.  Another thing to keep in mind; prices are usually cheaper if you book earlier!

It is also a great idea to plan ahead because it allows you to check the weather and determine what items you should bring.  An unexpected rainstorm and wet kids is not a good mix on a camping trip.  Sometimes you may have the option to reschedule the camping trip for another day when the weather will cooperate better.  Checking the weather before a trip allows you to plan appropriately and bring the right gear to stay warm and dry and make your trip enjoyable.  For more tips on preparing to camp in the rain and having fun check out this previous blog post

Practice at Home

A great way to help children prepare for camping away from home is to camp at home first.  Make it fun!  You can set up a tent indoors or outdoors and then sleep in the tent with the kids.  This is a great activity to do if your kids are first-timers to camping.  It will give them a headstart at getting adjusted to the new sleeping arrangements and environment.  It’s also a great way to ensure that your tent is ready for your trip.

Pack Appropriatelyhike on gold rush history field trip with students

The last thing you want is get to your campsite and then realize you didn’t pack enough clothes and items to stay warm. Staying warm can be challenging when the evening comes.  Especially with younger children who may have a harder time staying warm on cold nights.  Pack extra warm clothes and extra blankets.  Also, bring plenty of clothes to layer on cold days to keep everyone warm.

Kids have sensitive skin and there is nothing worse than coming back from a camping trip and feeling miserable from sunburns and bug bites.  Make sure you also pack your sunscreen and bug repellent.

Make it Special

Leaving home for a few days can be hard for younger children.  The sudden change in the environment and routine may be a bit overwhelming for children.  Consider bringing some items from the home to help children feel more comfortable with being away from home.  This could be a special blanket or stuffed animal for sleeping with.  It could even be a special meal or food item that helps children think of home and make the connection.

Also, be prepared for when the kids come to you saying they are bored.  Once they’ve explored everything they will come to you asking for something to do. Pack and plan lots of fun and new games to help children pass the time.  Some ideas are card games, riddles, outdoor obstacle course games, or team-building games…

One more great tip to make camping extra special is to plan certain things to pull out at certain times.  If you give kids everything at once, they will be entertained for a short while and then they will be bored again.  A better tactic is to introduce fun items to children one and a time.  One fun idea could be to bring glowsticks or bring flashlights to play flashlight tag when it gets dark.

Be Flexible

Understand that when it comes to kids, nothing is set in stone.  It’s good to have a plan, but it’s more important to be flexible.  Be willing to go with the flow when the day doesn’t go as planned.  Children are unexpected.  That hike you really want to do may not be the best choice after you see the way everyone slept their first night in the tent.  But if you’re goal is to have a good time it doesn’t matter if nothing goes according to your plan, everyone can still have fun doing other activities.  Keeping your plans flexible will allow you to avoid much of the stress that comes with camping with kids.

Bring Kid-Friendly Foods

Some kids are picky eaters and some kids will eat anything you put before them.  When camping you don’t always have the option of offering a peanut butter and jelly sandwich to those who don’t like the meal.  Camping with kids may not be the best time to plan an elaborate meal with foods that are new.  Keep it simple.  Plan meals that are easy to make and will keep everyone happy.

Also, when camping with kids, they will probably come to you long before dinner time saying they’re hungry.  Kids will get hungry throughout the day as they run around and explore the new environment.  Make sure to pack lots of fun and easy snacks to pull out.  Granola bars, trail mix, fruit, and veggies are great healthy snacks to bring on your trip to make sure everyone is getting the right nutrients to keep on exploring.

campers run over sand pit in woods at summer camp boy on rope swing in woods

Involve the Kids

Whether it’s setting up the tent, looking for wood for the fire, or making dinner, kids love to help.  Kids feel important when they get to help do “adult things”.  Involving the kids in all the activities of camping, including the prepping work, will go a long way in giving you and your family the best experience in the outdoors.

Stick to Routine

Kids thrive on routine.  Camping introduces a lot of new things for kids and it can be hard to stick to any form of routine.  Keeping to your families routine while camping will help maintain harmony even when you’re away from home. Try to keep to the normal bedtime routine or any other routine that will help the kids adjust.

Embrace Dirt

Dirt is everywhere and when you’re camping, it’s impossible to avoid it.  Dirt will get in your tent, in your food, on your clothes…  There’s no secret tip to keeping the dirt contained, especially when you bring kids into the picture. If you want to enjoy camping with kids you simply need to accept the outdoors, and all the dirt that will get everywhere.  There is a time a place for things to be clean, but that time is not when you are camping with kids.  Understand that kids are gonna get dirty when your camping, and that’s okay. One of the most beautiful experiences your children will have from camping is the opportunity they have to get their hands dirty and immerse themselves in the elements of nature.

Have Fun

The last tip is just to simply have fun!  A fun camping trip is a successful camping trip! All these tips are to help you with this last and most important one.  Your attitude and outlook on the camping trip will have a huge impact on how the children respond to camping. Always remember that the ultimate goal of the trip is to have fun and make memories.  And even if everything goes wrong, you can still have fun! Having an amazing time with your kids while camping is possible!

Your Turn

Does camping with kids seem a little less intimidating now?  I hope these tips will help you to bite the bullet and take your kids camping!  Maybe this will be their first time camping!  Make it something special that they will always remember.  Or maybe you are already pros at camping with kids.  It’s never too late to learn something new or teach your kids a new skill while in the outdoors.  Plan something new this time and make it an extra special trip for them!

We would love to hear from you! Let us know in the comments below if you have any tips or tricks for camping with kids.