family playing soccer and drinking water while tent camping

Tips for Camping with Kids

Camping is a great way to spend quality time with your kids without the distractions of daily life and technology.

Being immersed in nature offers your kids a full-sensory experience and plenty of teachable moments, and the good news is that it’s never too early to start.

From babies to teens, children of any age can find things to amaze them in nature that don’t include screen time.

father playing guitar while mom and two kids roast marshmallows over fire for s'mores

Camping with Kids

If you’re a first-timer when it comes to camping with your kids, here are some tips to ensure things run smoothly and your family has a safe and exciting time.

Don’t Rough It 

When camping with kids, especially if they’re newbies, you don’t want to go all in right away and rough it in the wilderness.

Keep things easy and temper tantrums to a minimum by choosing a campground with modern amenities that fit your family’s needs.

For example, some campgrounds offer flushing toilets and showers with hot water, electricity hookups, playgrounds, and other fun activities. 

Practice at Home

If your kids are new to camping, it’s a great idea to do a test run first. You can easily pitch a tent in your backyard and spend the night getting used to the new sleeping environment.

Make your camping trip more comfortable for the whole family with lightweight and compact camping gear.

If possible, you can even build a bonfire for the full experience. If you don’t have a backyard, you can pitch the tent in the living room and spend the night sleeping in it. 

Involve Your Kids

Even if it may be easier to just do things yourself, get your kids involved in the experience by giving them camp chores.

This will not only teach them new things, but it will also make them feel included and give them a sense of accomplishment and responsibility.

Make tasks age appropriate for each child to keep things running smoothly.

For example, older children can help set up the tent or help cook a meal while the younger kids can fill water bottles or put out sleeping bags.  

Think About Safety 

When it comes to safety while camping, it’s essential to set some ground rules with your kids. Your kids are in a new environment they’re unfamiliar and the rules will likely be different than what they’re used to at home.

You may want to discuss boundaries for roaming, a time to be back to the campsite, and what to do if they get lost. Be aware of what hazards may be in your environment.

Are there bears or mountain lions in the area? Is there a fast-moving river or a steep cliff nearby? 

Preparation is key; pack a wilderness first aid kit with specific items for treating injuries and illness in the outdoors. 

Stick to a Routine

Kids, especially young ones, thrive with routine and while they may be in a new environment on the campsite experiencing many new things, it may help to stick to somewhat of a routine when it comes to naps and bedtime.

If you usually read a book before bed, make sure to bring one along on the trip and do the same before you tuck them in their sleeping bag.

This will give them a sense of familiarity and (hopefully) limit tantrums or confusion. 

Find Teachable Moments

No matter what age your children are, camping provides loads of teachable moments for your children, and learning is always more fun when you’re having a good time.

Show your children how they can enjoy nature while also taking care of it.

You’ll have plenty of opportunities to teach them new things such as how to respect wildlife, properly dispose of trash and leave no trace, how to fish, and anything else that comes up along the way. 

Leave Technology at Home

These days, technology is such a huge part of our lives it’s often difficult to truly live in the moment.

Being outdoors in nature is the perfect opportunity to spend quality time with your kids being fully present without being distracted by technology.

Leave iPads, laptops, and video games at home so you can fully disconnect to reconnect. Phones are necessary for safety reasons, but it may be best to leave them in the car or packed away until you need them.

Instead, look out for wildlife, identify plants and bugs, star gaze, and don’t forget to get a little dirty. 

Camping Activities

Make the most of nature and get your kids excited about camping by having fun activities planned. This will help keep your kids active and engaged.

Here are some ideas for fun camping activities. 

  • Make s’mores by the campfire.
  • Tell ghost stories around the fire for older children.
  • Look out for shooting stars.
  • Play flashlight tag at night. 
  • Go on a guided hike
  • Bring a guidebook to identify plants and animals
  • Make leaf prints or pet rocks
  • Play frisbee 
  • Try an activity like fishing if water is nearby
  • Create a nature treasure hunt 
  • Get creative with sidewalk chalk