Kids require entertainment, as we know, but how much entertainment do you bring with you to the woods? It's a question that's best answered by the parents--your values will determine how much you allow to be brought in. A small backpack filled with figurines, books, paper and crayons, racecars and water toys usually will do just fine. Nintendo DS or any other battery-operated toys are probably a bad idea; outdoor toys like butterfly nets, bug cages, magnifying glasses, gem sifters and other things that keep them interested in the land around them, on the other hand, are wonderful to take along.
Types: Deciding What Types of Entertainment to Bring
Kids do constantly search for entertainment, but in the woods, usually just letting them use their imaginations will work wonders. If you're planning a camping trip with kids, think about what each child likes to do most when outside--digging, running, throwing rocks--and pack accordingly, depending on each child's interests. Of course, older children may want to be responsible for their own bag--and this can work out, although it's best to have an agreement before you leave the house that if they're packing their own, they're not allowed to ever say "I'm bored" or "I want to play with her toy!"
A few good things for parents to bring along for kids can include disposable cameras (a great way to start family scrapbooking), glowsticks, small flashlights, card games, bubbles and any outdoor toy that won't damage the environment (Frisbees and balls are always good to have on hand). Avoid toys with detachable or fragile plastic parts, small pieces (like Army men figures) and those that are capable of making loud noises.
Additionally, camping with your children means paying special attention to not just toys, but clothes and supplies as well. It's always a good idea to take extra jackets and layers, even in the middle of summer; at least two changes of clothes per day, and at least two pairs of shoes; waterproof jackets or ponchos; and plenty of medicines and first aid, just in case. Packing is a daunting chore, as is unpacking when you've arrived at the campsite, but the joy they'll feel while spending time with you outdoors is more than enough to compensate for the trouble.
Article Written By Emily Elder
Emily works as a Greenway coordinator and parks project manager in her local community, and has been hiking, camping, fishing and riding all over the mountains of western North Carolina. She enjoys being outside with her family, especially her two children, Creedence and Mason, and her husband, James, and lives on a small farm surrounded by the Blue Ridge Mountains.