Camping with kids? Here are nine things that’ll help minimize first-time camping anxiety and maximize your cool-dad brownie points.
In this article:
- Camp Near a Small Town Where You Can Seek Help
- Walk As Much As You Can
- Bring a First Aid Kit
- Make a Camping Checklist
- Give Them Actual Camping Duties
- Explore the Terrain Beforehand
- Bring Outdoor Toys
- Maintain at Least a 1:2 Adult-to-Kid Ratio
- Go on More Camping Trips
9 Tips to Have the Most Fun When Camping With Kids
1. Camp Near a Small Town Where You Can Seek Help
As fun as it may be to go hiking and camping deep within the forests of some faraway mountain, it’s not so practical when you’re with young children. Keep in mind that safety should always be your priority, especially if it’s your first time camping with toddlers.
Before deciding on a site to camp at for the weekend, make sure that there’s a nearby town or even a gas station you can go to in case of emergencies.
For example, if your seven-year-old kid suddenly gets a fever or develops a mysterious rash, your first aid kit may not be enough. If you are near a small town, you can take them to a warm place with (hopefully) adequate medical support.
Tip: While we’d want to avoid danger as much as we can, you should know what to do in case of it. For example, every camper should know how to send a distress signal during a life or death situation.
2. Walk As Much As You Can
It’s not every day your kids have the opportunity to immerse themselves in nature. With that in mind, make sure to give them a tour of everything there is to see at your camping site.
Show them the different trees, animals, insects, and plants, among others. If it’s safe to touch, encourage them to interact with the wildlife and vegetation.
Take this time to help your kids realize that there’s a magnificent world beyond cute cat videos on the Internet.
3. Bring a First Aid Kit
A first aid kit is one of the most important camping essentials with toddlers and kids. Before heading out to the woods, make a list of every health condition your kid has and what diseases they’re prone to.
If they’re asthmatic, make sure to bring their inhaler and other respiratory medication. Similarly, you can’t leave for a campout without bringing some Band-aids, gauze strips, and disinfectant sprays.
Remember that your kids aren’t as sturdy as you are (yet), so you need to cover every contingency and prevent them from getting hurt or sick.
4. Make a Camping Checklist
Proper organization is the key to a fun and safe camping trip. Make sure to pack all the essentials including food, clothing, and water, among others.
Try to make your luggage as light, yet complete, as possible. Don’t bring more than what you need, but make sure not to leave anything essential behind as well.
If you bring too much, it may become too difficult to keep track of every single thing that you brought along for the trip. Plus, you don’t want your kids playing with hazardous items, would you?
On the other hand, it’s even worse to not have something when you need it. Imagine how horrible it would be to run out of water in the middle of the woods.
That’s why you need to create a compact, efficient camping checklist of all the essentials.
5. Give Them Actual Camping Duties
Their camping experience won’t be complete if they aren’t actually helping out.
Tasks such as setting up the tent, carrying the bags, lighting the fire, gathering wood, and cooking meals are simple yet very important duties. These help teach your kids valuable life skills they need to survive.
Once you arrive, assign your kids their individual roles and responsibilities. Give them enough freedom to figure out the tasks on their own, but prepare to jump in if they need you. Give them duties that will exercise both their mental and physical capabilities.
RELATED: Treating and Dressing A Wound | Survival Skills Every Man Should Know
6. Explore the Terrain Beforehand
When camping with kids, a lot of dads check in to the first RV park they see to avoid putting their family at risk. While safety is a priority, you should also try to squeeze out as much fun as you can from the trip.
Consider sites you’ve camped at before and assess which ones will be cool for your kids. Instead of playing it too safe by avoiding going deep, do your homework and research the places you want to go to.
Use online forums and ask fellow campers how their experience was. You’ll probably get an idea of what you can and can’t do. Don’t give in to fear. Rather, stock up on knowledge to beat your fears and worries.
7. Bring Outdoor Toys
What better place to play outdoor games than on a camping trip? Make a list of fun camping activities that’ll keep your kids’ blood pumping. Some toys and items you should bring include a football, baseball mitt, baseball, and Frisbee disc, among others.
You can bring old-school board games and a deck of cards for some fun around the campfire before bedtime, too. Try to avoid high-tech gadgets and toys that promote waste or littering.
8. Maintain at Least a 1:2 Adult-to-Kid Ratio
Going on a camping trip with four kids where you’re the only guardian may be a bit too difficult to handle – especially if it’s your first time camping with toddlers and kids. A brother, friend, or neighbor you trust is the perfect guy to bring on this trip.
Make sure it’s someone who at least has as much knowledge and experience camping as you do, if not more.
If you have too many rugrats, consider bringing only the two eldest along first to maximize bonding time (and to save your sanity). You can bring the younger ones on a separate trip, or when they’re a little older.
Tip: A great way to set this up is to ask your prospective camping buddy a few weeks beforehand. If they have a kid of their own, make sure you still follow the suggested adult-to-kid ratio.
9. Go on More Camping Trips
As with any other thing in life, remember that practice makes perfect. Don’t scare yourself with anxiety of how nerve-wrecking it is to take your kids out into the woods.
Instead, do everything you can to prepare yourself and your kids for anything that Mother Nature might throw at you.
Also, keep in mind that it gets easier after the first few trips. You’ll soon realize exactly what you need to do to make the event as fun as possible for you and your kids.
What once caused you a great deal of panic and anxiety will eventually become a fun ritual you and your kids can look forward to.
Tip: To minimize the nervousness you feel during your first trip, try camping close to home. As you gain more experience, you and your kids can start moving further away every time you go on a campout.
Here are some more tips on camping with kids, watch this video from Escape the couch:
These are just some of the most important family camping tips and tricks. Try to relax and remember that your kids aren’t really that much different from you and will take your lead. The only difference is they probably don’t have the mental or physical capacity to handle their own in the wild. That’s why you’re there to help them.
Keep a level head, let instinct and logic dictate your actions, and never let fear or panic get the best of you.
What are some of your own tips for first-timers who are going camping with kids? Share your experience with us in the comments section down below!
Zoe Campos says
Thank you for assuring me that camping with my kids will get better with practice. My husband and I have always gone camping in the wild, but now that we want to introduce our kids to our hobby, we think that we need to start with something mild and just do it at the nearest recreational vehicle park. We’ll hold on to your words that it will get easier after a lot of camping trips and hope that they will be ready for the real survival thing when they’re older.