For some, the thought of camping with kids is just crazy. However, it's not that hard to do.
Yes, it will probably take more work and preparation, but the benefits your kid gains from a camping experience are far greater. Here's how you can make a camping trip with preschoolers fun and easy.
1. Include Them In The Planning Stage
Kids do better when they’re prepared for what’s coming. Days or weeks before your camping trip, begin to talk to them about it already, so they know just a little bit of what to expect. Here are some ways you can include them in the planning stage.
- Choose the campsite together. Decide what you want to see around the campgrounds and pick a site where you might want to pitch your tent.
- You can count together the number of sleep until the camping trip.
- Ask them for ideas on what you can do outdoors - hiking, looking for butterflies or birds, etc. Prompt them if you need to.
- Take them with you when you go shopping for the camping trip.
- Let them help pack the bags and pack the food. You can even give them the freedom of picking their clothes (with your supervision, of course). If you think they’re packing the wrong stuff, just give prompts like "it’s going to be cold at night".
2. Have A Toy Tub
As much as I want them to enjoy the great outdoors, they will still look for some toys. A tub makes it easier to transport and keep toys while you're out.
However, bring only the toys that are appropriate (I think the legos can stay home!). A ball, magnifying glass, bubbles, a butterfly net, digging toys and small buckets, cooking toys, and toy trucks are great outdoors.
3. Make It Comfortable
If you don’t want a fussy child, then you should make things as comfortable as possible. A family tent or a cabin tent is ideal so that it won’t be too stuffy.
Related: The Best Cabin Tents For Family And Large-Group Camping.
4. Give Your Child Some Tasks
Before your actual camping trip, you should already be talking to your kid about the things they can help with.
Keep them enthusiastic and engaged. A child as young as three years can already help spread the tent fabric and even with sticking poles in your tents.
While you’re in camp, remind them of their tasks. For instance, maybe they can set the table for meal time. Just make sure their safety is a top priority. Don’t give them tasks that are too hard or else they might not want to go camping again.
5. Go On A Scavenger Hunt
For a more fun task, prepare a "scavenger hunt" checklist. Let them tick off the picture if they spot it at any point during your camp.
You can include pine cones, grasshoppers, butterflies, and even things like bottle caps and empty water bottles. Then you can even impart lessons like how you can take care of your surroundings.
6. Always Have A Drawing Pad And Crayons
When I run out of ideas, I usually just get drawing pads and crayons and let my kid scribble. Even when her work doesn’t make sense, it’s an excellent time killer! While mom and dad are busy cooking, they can sit somewhere and just scribble. Encourage your child to draw what he saw during the day and let him tell you what it is afterward.
7. Keep It Safe
If you're camping in a tent, make sure the guy lines are visible, so you or your kids won't trip on them. Try wrapping it with foil or maybe such bright colored tape. At night, the foil will reflect the moonlight.
Also, if there are any areas, you don’t want the kids to wander off too, make sure you are communicating it to them. You can rope off any area that's off limits.
8. Bring The Potty
Whether your child is potty trained or not, bring the potty! A newly potty-trained kid might regress if you take him or her to a foul-smelling pit toilet. In addition, a potty will save you from walking in the dark for a pee break.
9. Pack Your First Aid Kit
Hopefully, you won’t have to use it, but it’s always better to have around. A well-packed kit will have all the essentials from band-aids, to insect bite remedies, to kid's ibuprofen.
Make sure it also has tweezers in the case of splinters. Have some items for you too, like Advil and strips to relieve muscle pain. And, don’t forget all the goop - sunscreen, insect repellent, aloe vera - lifesavers!
Related: Best First Aid Kit For Quick-Response And Survival.
Camping with kids doesn’t have to be a complete nightmare. You just need to prepare well enough. Preschoolers live on routine so try to prepare them ahead of time as well.
Follow these tips, and I’m sure it’ll be easier one way or another. And remember, there’s no perfect camping trip, so don’t be too hard on yourself. It’ll get easier the more you do it.
If you have tips and hacks you want to share, we’d love to hear them as well! Feel free to use the comment section below.
Louise Brown is a photographer, camping lover and hiking expert based in Colorado. TheAdventureLand.com, where she share experiences venturing, tips & tricks and survival skills that will help you have an exciting adventure. "Let’s pack our bags and explore the world!".
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