Camping is an outdoor activity the family can enjoy regardless of age. As with any camping trip, preparation is essential. When camping with children, you will need to be a little more prepared than you would for adults. Other than clothing needs, you'll also want to take their health, safety and entertainment needs into consideration when planning your trip. Working out camping ideas for kids ahead of time is a great way to prevent boredom, unwelcome surprises and frustration on the trip. Children love hiking and running around, but after a day or two, these might become a bit boring. Plan plenty of activities ahead of time, but be flexible and accept that some---or maybe all---may need to be scrapped if something more interesting comes along.
When you are camping, you are basically living outdoors and will have to weather all the conditions nature throws at you. It's best to be prepared by bringing enough clothing with you. Because the woods are usually cooler at night, be sure to pack warm clothes. It's a smart idea to pack some long pants, long shirt and, possibly, a jacket for the child to wear. Children don't have the same ability as adults to maintain their body heat for long periods of time, so pack extra clothes to keep them warm. You'll also want to be prepared for warmer conditions, especially if swimming might be involved. Bring a poncho they can wear if it rains and several pairs of shoes such a tennis shoes, flip flops and hiking shoes.
Consider what type of recreational activities the group will be doing while camping. If you'll be doing water activities, be sure to pack a bathing suit, sunscreen, safety gear and anything else children might enjoy in the water, such as rafts, floaties or other water toys. If you will be hiking, pack proper shoes and socks they can wear while walking. If they have a backpack they'd like to carry along on the trek, bring it along. Consider what you personally would require on the trek and pack it for the child.
Inform your children of all rules before each activity. Rules such as staying on trails and not touching plants are important for your child's safety. Other rules such as picking up trash and using quiet voices at night in the campground are a matter of respect for the environment and other people. Teach your children where to go and who to talk to in case they get lost. If you are in a national or state park, show them what the rangers look like, so they know who to ask for help.
Because most children can get bored easily, bring along some of their favorite games and toys. Let them pick out items that they think will keep them entertained. These can be anything from board games, books, coloring books, puzzles, battery-operated cars, iPods or anything else that will keep them happy while in camp.
Food and First Aid
Always prepare a first aid kit that contains everything you'll need in the event the child or anyone else in camp gets injured. Pack the kit with standard items such as bandages, gauze, antiseptic, bug spray and other items required to treat an injury or minor illness. You will also want to pack medical items that the child might require while on the trip, such as cold medications, allergy medications or any other special medications they might need.
Pack snack and food items that the child enjoys eating. Camping is a special time for the family to get together and enjoy each other. Pack food items they normally wouldn't eat in their everyday life at home that can be enjoyed on this special event. Throw in some hot chocolate that they can have during the cooler mornings.