Camping with kids? Since handling kids can be difficult, successfully taking them for camping comes with a sense of self-fulfillment. We once took my two-year old daughter (now much older) camping at Olympic Peninsula campground along the Elwha River in Washington. I woke up early in the morning, made some coffee and we headed for the campground, going through the Douglas fir forest, which was wet at the time.
Two to three elk suddenly appeared from nowhere, jumping up and down, and disappeared into the thick forest vegetation. I found some matted down places around the area as I surveyed it and bet it’s where the elk had slept. We set up our camp not too far away from the matted down place, maybe 180 yards away.
We went back to our camping tent, snuggled up in our sleeping bags and enjoyed a peaceful night sleep in the middle of nowhere. It was a quiet night with barely any movements. I woke up early the next morning to take a glimpse of the morning sun shining through the temperate rainforest. The big-leaf maples and huge conifers were quite a beautiful sight.
With only the sound of the flowing river waters being heard that clear morning, the snowfields on Mt. Olympus’ West Peak stood out amidst the clear skies in the horizon. I loved my quiet moment at this hour of the morning as everyone else in our camp was still asleep.
Since the first time we took our kids camping, our family has grown and we’ve done it over and over again. Today, camping with kids is at the top of our family’s best things to do for leisure and family entertainment. We have also learnt a lot during the many times we’ve gone camping.
If you’re planning to take your kids camping, these tips will help make your experience one to cherish.
10 Don’ts When Camping with Kids
1.Setting Up Camping Gear for the First Time When at the Camp Venue
One of the most fun parts of camping is when you get to set up your gear such as tents, hammocks, etc. However, you need to engage in a mock setup back home before actually doing it at the campsite. It’s a good way to get your kids excited for camping. Ensure to give each child a task, for instance, you can let them clip the poles to the body of the tent or run the former through their respective sleeves.
The kids can also learn to spread the sleeping bags or pads. It’s also the right time for your kids to learn the basic camping rules such as being careful while setting up the camping gear, or to be precise, no stepping on spread out tents being set up. When done setting up a camp in your backyard or even indoors, let your kids enjoy a night’s sleep in the tents to familiarize them with what to expect when you go camping.
As a result, your kids will take ownership of what they learn and look forward to the big day.
2.Going Camping with Entertainment Devices
Camping gives you the opportunity to experience Mother Nature at its best. With the clarity, stillness and silence in the woods, deserts, mountains or wherever you go camping, you get the chance to develop self-awareness. If you’re into meditation, it’s the perfect environment for that even if you want to teach your kids the art.
By quieting your mind, you get to realize the things taking place in your immediate environment such as birds singing, rivers flowing, leaves falling, etc. You get to indulge in a deeper, quiet world where the mind is totally blank, listening to happenings in the surroundings. Distractions such as electronic devices, apps and games have no place in camping adventures.
Explain to your kids the benefits of leaving your gadgets behind when you go camping. They’re bound to comply when they understand why they can’t bring their electronic devices for camping. However, support their productivity and creativity by allowing them to carry digital cameras to capture special moments and memories while having a good time outdoors.
Let your kids know and appreciate camping as a time for the family to spend time together, do things together and just have fun away from the daily distractions back home.
3.Doing it All Yourself
Whether you’re backpacking or traveling to your camping site in a car, you need to let everyone in the family help with the gear set up. Foster teamwork by allotting each family member a task to accomplish. Your kids won’t just love the whole experience of working as a family, but their effort would ensure everything is set up faster than if you did it alone.
Setting up gear is an important part of camping every family member would love to experience. Teach your kids how to pack for camping, letting them have their own packs and sleeping bags. Allow them to carry their own backpacks as they learn the basics and necessities of camping.
As they grow, you can gradually add items to their backpacking necessities such as toothbrushes, headlamps, etc. Before you know it, they’ll be able to pack what they need for camping without your help.
4.Camping with No Goal
Every time you go camping, you need a goal, an objective or aim to accomplish. This is the ultimate thing you want to achieve by the time your camping comes to an end. We always come up with a mission for all our camping adventures. When we went camping in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park’s Big Creek, our aim was to hike up the Midnight Hole trail.
Although some camping venues have obvious goals such as climbing to the peaks of mountains, others require a bit of creativity and imagination. However, with kids, you need to be proactive in developing excitement for your camping adventure ahead, and keeping goals simple. For instance, getting to the creek for a swim is good enough to get your kids excited.
Planning for your camping adventure is important. However, don’t overdo or force it. While planning your itinerary, leave a few days’ allowance for eventualities. You don’t know what might happen. The rains might prevent you from doing something planned, but with the extra days you can reschedule your itinerary and have lots of adventure and fun as planned.
6.Using Tents as the Only Shelter
When camping with kids, you need to diversify your shelters. In addition to the tents, put up a larger shelter where the whole family can fit in for some good times together. Your central meeting space can be a tarp. For instance, the REI Alcove Shelter is a pre-made tarp shelter you can bring to a camp to fit the whole family.
In conditions where tents might be unusable, your bigger shelter will come in handy.
7.Leaving Behind Toys/Crafts
While camping, your kids have the chance to play with their toys and other crafts they don’t always get to use back home. Since our camps are usually by the riverside (as our terrain is the Southern Appalachia), we bring with us inflatable crafts and play-boats for endless fun in eddying river currents.
This comes automatically for us, given our camping environment. However, we only get in the river waters if the weather permits us. Sometimes, though, the best camping moments for your kids won’t even involve toys. Some of our happiest camping adventures weren’t even planned; they just happened.
Hide and seek and ‘rock golf’ are some other games your kids will love engaging in while camping. And of course, you can join in the fun. Do a quick online research for fun games or activities to engage your family and kids at your next campsite.
8.Packing Insufficient Food
A good part of camping is mealtimes. The food doesn’t just taste better out in the woods or mountains, but meals shared around a fire stick more in memory. Preparing meals might seem quite tasking but it’s all about having fun and enjoying each step. It’s about taking your cooking creativity a notch higher.
Pack a cutting board(s), stove and table for your next camping. Consider a camping stove that supports low heat cooking or simmering such as the Coleman Dual-Fuel 2 Burner Stove. You’ll enjoy cooking your rice or pancakes on low heat. Packing more than one cutting board ensures that you have an extra hand at chopping the veggies.
Although you can bring with you a camp roll table, most campsites offer picnic tables. You’ll need one for your meal preparations. Bring pre-packaged backpacking meals for rainy or stormy days when there’s need to prepare food quickly. However, also pack enough raw food for preparation by the whole family when the weather allows.
Research the various meals you can prepare on a camp before the big day and carry as much food as you can. It’s better to have some food leftovers from camping than to run short of meals in the middle of nowhere.
Or Try XMRE
We at XMRE offer ready-to-eat meals for your next camping adventure. Whether you’re going camping, hiking or in the middle of nowhere for whatever reason and need a survival kit of nutritious, convenient and delicious meals, MRE meals are your best bet. When camping with kids, you’ll need handy food that you can give your kids whenever there are hungry and there’s no time to prepare a proper meal.
MRE meals can be served cold or hot as you deem necessary based on the prevailing weather conditions at your campsite. Use the flameless heater when you need your pre-packaged meal served hot. With a shelf-life of up to 5 years, choose from wholesome meals such as beef brisket, chicken pesto pasta, Mexican-style chicken stew, beef taco, south-west style beef, chili macaroni, vegetarian penne pasta, shredded BBQ beef, and meatballs and marinara sauce.
You can buy MRE meals at local retail stores selling pre-packaged camping meals or make an order online directly with us for the meals to be delivered to your doorstep. If you’re lucky, you’ll find these healthy meals at your campsites though they might cost more.
9.Going Camping without Prior Research of the Campsite
Popular camping sites such as those in national parks, forests, or even state parks are usually rich in history. For instance, some of my campsites along the Chattooga River were initially ‘fords’; these are shallow areas on river courses where people crossed the rivers long before bridges were built. Local natives lived up the river, a site that was known as ‘Cherokee Town’.
When camping with the kids, the experience should be more than just an outdoor experience of engaging in various activities. It should also be an avenue of learning more about your campsite. Do research over the internet, speak to environmental educators and even interact with local rangers to find out more about the area. Encourage your kids to ask many questions and learn as much as they can.
Once when we went camping to the Hunting Island State Park in South Carolina for a week, my kids got the chance to play with ‘Buddy’ (a diamondback terrapin that was saved from hungry crabs many years back) for hours; we sought permission from the local rangers. My kids got to learn about salt marsh during this camping adventure; information they’d not find anywhere on books.
Camping is all about visiting an unknown place and making it home for a few days or weeks. It’s only with enough information about the area that you can make your campsite home.
10.Not Packing Enough/the Right Clothes for Camping
When planning for your next camping adventure, ensure that your kids have the right and sufficient clothes for the campsite’s climatic conditions. If the area is cold, pack enough warm clothes and footwear to keep your kids warm. The same goes for warm or hot areas; pack light clothes for your kids to wear when the temperatures are high.
Whether you’ve gone camping with kids before or looking to give it a shot for the first time, these tips will come in handy.
Wherever you decide to go camping with kids, just ensure to prepare well in advance for fun, memorable moments ahead.
Contact us for more information regarding MRE meals for your next camping adventure with the kids.