Camping with your kids is a very rewarding experience, but there are some things you should keep in mind before heading to the great outdoors. Between making sure they have the proper camping equipment and keeping them entertained, it isn’t the easiest family bonding activity, but it is one of the most fun.
Teach Them How to Use Their Camping Gear
One of the valuable things kids get from their parents is their survival skills. At any rate, you don’t want to be setting up their camping tents for them for the rest of their lives. Show them what you’re doing as you do it, and explain all the steps. Teach them how to safely start a fire and set up their tents. If your kids are on the younger side, consider using the backyard as a testing ground. That way, if things get out of hand, you’re only a few steps from the house.
Get Them Involved
If you’re eager for your kid to love camping as much as you do, chances are that some of your enthusiasm will rub off. But if they seem a little wary of spending so much time outside and away from their TV, there are ways to get them more involved. If they don’t seem excited when you teach them to use their gear, try incorporating them in the planning process. Ask them what they’d like to do while on the trip: see a deer, climb a mountain, catch a fish? Let them bring something from their day-to-day routine with them as well, like a stuffed animal, blanket, or favorite T-shirt.
Know Their Abilities
Before you go on that 10-mile hike you’ve been planning, make sure you’re not overestimating your children’s abilities. Go on a day trip to see if they’re the type to scramble up the mountain, no problem, or if you should opt for something a little easier. Keep in mind that if you push them too hard, they won’t view camping as fun. Focus on enjoying nature and being away from technology more than on the pace. If they aren’t natural hikers, consider going car camping and keeping it to quick day hikes. Just make the effort to leave the majority of modern devices at home so you can get the full experience.
Choose the Right Campsite
Choosing the right campsite is hard enough when it’s just you and a camping buddy, let alone when you’ve got kids in tow. Luckily, there are a wide variety of campsites to suit your needs. The most important thing is to keep your family’s preferences in mind. You may prefer to rough it completely, but they might enjoy some indoor plumbing, especially younger kids. And you know better than anyone that unhappy kids are willing and able to share their emotional state. It’s also advisable to choose a campsite that isn’t too far from town. That way, if you need to pick up emergency supplies or just grab takeout, it’s not a nightmare.
Your kid may not find gazing at a landscape as enthralling as you do, and that’s okay. Maybe they would enjoy fishing, tossing around a Frisbee, or reading a book. Many of the activities they enjoy doing in the backyard will translate to camping, and they might become interested in new games, like kite flying or soccer. Educating your kids can be another form of entertainment. Teach them how to tie knots, start a fire, and identify wildlife tracks. You should seriously consider leaving nonessential electronics at home; otherwise, what’s the point?
Properly Outfit Them
As much as he or she might look like it, your child is not a mini-you. They need different outdoor gear. They get cold easily, they need to eat at different times, and they can tucker out quickly. Make sure your kids have a fleece or wool sweater for when it gets chilly, a good jacket, swimwear, pants, and shorts. Your kids should also have their own flashlights to minimize squabbling. Visit your local Eastern Mountain Sports to find out exactly what you’ll need for your specific trip, and bring your kids. Seeing all the neat equipment will make them more enthusiastic about the trip.
Planning your meals ahead of time will simplify the whole process for you, which you will especially appreciate with kids around. Prepare your ingredients at home and bring them with you in plastic bags; just be sure to take the bags with you when you leave your campsite.
The best way to keep your kids safe on a camping trip is to be knowledgeable about what you’re doing. You should know what poison ivy looks like, what to do in case of a bear encounter, how to identify dehydration, and what to do if someone gets injured. Talk to some of our in-store experts to get a rundown on the basics. Sure, having a first-aid kit is essential, but it won’t do you much good if you don’t know how to use it. Give your kids whistles to hang around their necks or keep in their pockets, but tell them to use them only in case of emergency. After all, kids get separated easily, and you should have a way to find them.
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