Top Ten Camping Tips for Kids

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evening-hike-on-lakeTaking kids camping is a great experience, but it can also come with some headaches. Here are ten items for your kids that will make your life easier when you are camping:

Number 1 – Camp Boundaries

As soon as you arrive at your destination, walk the boundary of the campsite with them. Since you don’t want them wandering into other people’s campsites, or out of sight, you’ll want to set the perimeter of their territory right up front. Give them landmarks to look for, in a square around the camp: “you can go from that group of rocks to this tree, and then stay to the front of the tents on this side over to this tree, and from the tree to the road. Stay back from the road”. If they know their boundaries from the beginning, they can play within the campsite while you go about your campsite duties.

Number 2 – Flashlight Is A Must When Camping

Darkness falls quickly in the mountains. It’s amazing how one moment you can see just fine and the next you don’t know if you are eating a hot dog or corn on the cob. It’s best to have them get their flashlights handy when dusk starts to fall. If they go on a hike (with a buddy!), make sure a flashlight is included in their backpacks, even if they plan to be back will before nightfall.

Number 3 – Can’t Go Camping Without a Whistle

Camping Whistle

Camping Whistle

Older kids who are allowed to go exploring or even to the outhouse on their own should wear a whistle around their necks. If they become lost or experience danger, they can blow the whistle and someone from their group will come running. This is something that everyone, not just children, should keep handy when camping. Make sure it is a durable plastic whistle. Most importantly, don’t let them play with them. They are only to be blown if they get lost when camping.

Number 4 – Bring A Variety Of Clothes Camping

When they are running around in the sunshine, they will want to be cool and comfortable. When the sun goes down or if it rains, it can get quite chilly for little kids. Not only can the weather and temperature change quickly when camping but kids are bound to get filthy. So make sure you bring plenty of different clothes, and lots of them, when camping.

Number 5 – Special Camping Food

Of course the s’mores and hot dogs on sticks are basically camping food. In our family, we have certain snacks we only eat on road trips and camping. My father only wanted frosted circus animal cookies when we went camping, and I only see my husband eating Jolly Ranchers when he heads down to the lake to go fishing. Our daughters get so excited in the morning: they get to eat cereal out of tiny boxes! This will help the kids keep the energy they need camping by being excited about these special treats.

Number 6 – Portable Toilet And A Box Of Wet Wipes

We just pack their old training potty when going camping. They have been trained for years but they can still use it if necessary. We set it up in the corner of the tent with a plastic bag lining the cup that catches the waste. In the tent while camping, we tell them it is for emergencies only (like if they have to go in the middle of the night or we are stuck in the tent in a thunderstorm). It is nice to have on the road, too. If we are in the middle of nowhere heading towards a faraway campground and someone has to go potty, we can set it up on the side of the road. It is rarely used, but it gives us peace of mind.

Number 7 – Some Favored Durable Books and Toys For Camping

Survivor Kid: A Practical Guide to Wilderness Survival

Survivor Kid: A Practical Guide to Wilderness Survival

Make sure you don’t bring their very favorite item unless your child will be distraught without it. Everything you do bring camping outdoors should be durable and washable. You may even want to by doubles of a few of their favorites just for camping. This second set of their most precious toys will be great for them on camping trip. Also, you will know from the start that they are camping toys and are to get dirty.

Number 8 – Beach Toys and Plastic Toys

The pebbles and rocks in a campsite are a lot harder on beach toys than beach sand, so these are usually one season toys. But a couple of plastic buckets and shovels can buy you some camp fire cooking time!

A fishing pole. If you are camping by a lake and you have an angler in the family, get a kiddie fishing pole. You can put a little weight and a bobber on it, and the kids can fish just like an adult (but without the hook)! Even if you are not near water the kids can spend lots of time practice casting in any open space.

Number 9 – Camping Games

It’s easy to think of all the things that can keep the kids busy camping while you are doing your own thing camping. However, one of the best things for a family to do is to make sure there are some great activities for everyone to enjoy while camping. Make sure to plan a game or two that you can play while the sun is out and shining such as Ladder ball or pinecone bocce ball. But also have a few things ready for when the weather turns bad and you are cooped up in a tent, car, or camper. This can turn into a nightmare if you do not have something for everyone to do. Read them a story or play their favorite board game. Even a simple game of Go Fish can be tons of fun and a great way to wait out bad weather.

Number 10 – Take Whatever It Takes To Make Camping Fun!

Camping Baby Swing

Camping Baby Swing

Consider packing Items that comfort the baby and/or helps her fall asleep at home. We have pictures of our daughter, when she was about seven months old, swinging in her full-sized, battery-operated swing, while the adults sit around the campfire. When she was asleep, I took her into the tent with me. Yes, we felt silly, and yes, it took up a lot of space. But she was in a phase of sleeplessness, and we couldn’t imagine she would fall asleep without it. It was definitely worth it so we could have a good camping trip and our neighbors didn’t hear a baby crying for hours.

Of course you can’t pack everything, so you and your child will need to prioritize. And remember your child will need the same things you will need: sunblock, a hat, bug spray, comfortable shoes, foul weather clothing, etc. Don’t forget the first aid kit. When you are camping with kids, it is likely to be used!

Keep this list of Top Ten Camping Tips for Kids in mind when you are planning your next camping trip. It’s easy to just drag the kids along and give them little extra thought when heading out camping. However, with a little foresight and preparation you can avoid some of the worst camping issues with kids and help to make your camping trip and everyone else’s so much better.

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