How to have fun with your kids while camping

camping-with-kids

Pic courtesy University of Maryland

Getting the kids out into the great outdoors isn’t exactly easy these days. Inside we have things like air conditioning, video games, the Internet, and indoor plumbing. How can a camping trip stack up against all that?
If you are going to be the one to drag them away from their afternoon cartoons and force them to spend some time where the sun can reach them (while they’re well-protected with sunscreen, of course), then there are some things you can do to make the experience much more enjoyable for everyone. Having fun with the kids while you’re camping isn’t hard, but it will take a little extra planning.

Prepare for the Adventure
Get your children ready for the adventure by introducing it to them a little at a time. Set up the tent in the back yard and let them have their own little campout back there. There’s a big difference between sleeping on their beds and sleeping in a bag on the floor, and if they’ve had a little experience with it at home (where they can come back inside if necessary), you’re nights will be more enjoyable when you get to the real campsite.
Try to involve your kids in the planning. Let them know exactly what kinds of foods and supplies you’ll be packing, what they will have to do to make sure everything goes smoothly. Make sure they know that there will be plenty of things to see, do, and eat while they are out there.
You may also try a few day-trips to help the kids get used to the idea of having fun outside without a single power outlet in sight. Head down to the lake or a campsite that isn’t very far away and spend the entire day away from your home and all the normal amenities. This will show them exactly how much fun they can have without turning on any video games at all.
Be Quick and Organized
Setting up camp isn’t going to keep many children entertained, but, of course, it is a necessary part of the process. Try to involve you kids with the set up. Let them help put up the tent and organize the food and supplies. But don’t take too long – children don’t exactly have a long attention span. It’s important to keep everything organized, though, because if they are giving up the comfort of home, they will often latch on to the stability of a well-organized camp.
This is also a good chance to teach them a few lessons about camping. Take the time to point out a few landmarks nearby and make sure they remember the number of the campsite in case they wander too far. Make sure they also know how to react to wildlife and how to take care of their environment. If they are going to use any of the sharp tools, like hatchets, axes, or Benchmade knives, you should also make sure they understand how to do so safely.
Plan for Activities but Don’t Make Schedules
Once your children are accustomed to the outdoors, they will not require much help to stay entertained. However, if they start to look a little disinterested, you should be ready with some outdoor games and activities. You don’t need to schedule your activities for each day – it’s best to let the child’s interests act as a sort of guide – but you should be ready to offers some alternatives if they run out of their own ideas.
It doesn’t take long for kids to get accustomed to the great outdoors, and when they are having fun you will be able to enjoy the excursion a lot more yourself. It will take a little planning, but soon your children will be asking when you’ll be planning the next trip.

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