Camping With Children

Camping With Children
Camping with children can be one of the most rewarding experiences of your adult life. You get to help shape the next generation and watch as they discover a love of nature and the outdoors. Camping with children can also be one of the more stressful and challenging activities you do as a parent. Following a few simple steps can help alleviate that stress and turn your next family camping trip into the joyous occasion it ought to be.


Difficulty: Moderate

Step 1
Make a list of what you need to pack beforehand. Camping with children requires you to bring a lot of stuff. To avoid becoming overwhelmed, divide your list into categories such as food, clothing, toiletries, shelter and safety. Then write everything down and check things off as you pack them. The more organized you are in the beginning, the less you will forget in the end.
Step 2
Choose your campsite with care. Safety is an important issue when you are camping with your kids, so before settling on a site, be sure to view it from the perspective of a child. Choose a spot that is as flat as possible and relatively free of large obstacles like boulders and tree stumps. The safer your kids can navigate the campsite, the more relaxed you will feel throughout your stay.
Step 3
Have a family discussion about safety and camping regulations. There are many safety and regulatory issues that need to be addressed when camping with children, so set aside some time as a family to discuss the rules and regulations of the park as well as your own family guidelines for keeping the children safe.
Included in this set of guidelines should be:
Campfire safety: Kids are taught at an early age not to touch a hot stove or oven, and the same rules can and should apply to the campfire. Teach them how to navigate around a fire (walk, don't run) and how to respect it for its usefulness and enjoyment without getting hurt. Keep matches and lighters out of reach for small children, always use cooking utensils responsibly and keep a good first aid kit close just in case.
Campsite safety: Children often feel the freedom that comes with being in the outdoors and, as a result, sometimes tend to wander off. Make a system that works with your whole family to help keep track of everyone. A good and fun way to do this is give everyone a nickname and frequently do a name check.
Respecting the wildlife: One of the main reasons we take our families to the outdoors is to bring them closer to the amazing wildlife. Make sure your children understand that these animals are wild and dangerous and that they should be treated with caution and respect. A good way to bring them close but not too close is to buy your children their own disposable camera and let them capture the beauty of these animals in the wild
Food storage: Discuss with your children the necessity of keeping food cleaned-up and put away to avoid hungry animals in your campsite such as squirrels, ravens, raccoons and even bears. This is not only a good safety guideline, but in some parks it is a rule that, if broken, can get you ejected from your campsite.
Potty time: Talk to your kids about using the campground bathroom and water facilities. Many campgrounds use low flush toilets in order to conserve water and it is important that kids understand that they can't stuff the toilets with lots of paper. Most park regulated campgrounds also have several rules about the use of sinks. Most don't allow dish-washing and other activities that might be a sanitary issue. Read all the regulations regarding your campground and help your kids to understand them as well.
Step 4
Plan kid-friendly activities. In order to get the most out of your family camping trip, gear your activities to the interest and skill level of your children. If you are camping in a state or national park, be sure to visit a ranger station for tips and ideas on how to get your children involved. For instance, many national parks have a "Junior Ranger" program that will guide your children through activities aimed at teaching park safety, respect for the environment and local wildlife. Helping your kids complete each activity is a great way to connect with them and even learn something yourself in the process.
Step 5
Make bedtime as comfortable as possible. Children, especially really young ones, don't sleep very well in new places. To ensure the smoothest transition into sleep, make their sleeping area as comfortable as you can. Put extra padding under their sleeping bag and bring a familiar article from home like a teddy-bear or favorite blanket. To make bedtime just as fun as the rest of your activities, have everyone go to bed at the same time and snuggle together as a family.

Tips & Warnings

Give each child their own flashlight or headlamp. This is a fun way to help keep your kids feeling safe and comforted.

Article Written By Hollie Reina

Based in St. George, Utah, Hollie Reina recently started her professional writing career writing outdoor-related articles for She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Utah.

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