Camping is a wonderful way to get away from the hustle and bustle of city life and enjoy the serene offerings of nature. Unless you’re with kids. Not that we have anything against kids. We adore kids. However, kids on a camping trip can be as horrifying as it sounds, at least if you’re not prepared. But if you equip yourself with adequate knowledge and tools to deal with children on a camping trip, your entire family could have a great weekend!
Presenting: the ultimate guide to camping with kids! While you’re out in the wilderness, you might need to keep a close watch on your offspring. This guide will answer all the whats, hows, and whys you may have about camping with these little demons. Enough chit-chatting; let’s dive right into the real thing!
- How to Prepare for Camping with Kids
- How to Camp with Kids
- 5 Factors to Consider When Camping with Kids
How to Prepare for Camping with Kids
Pick the Campsite
Camping is not as simple as going to a hill or beachside and setting up a base. Since we’re talking about kids, you need to be careful about where you camp. You cannot be spontaneous about the campsite with children. Conduct thorough research and check some exciting yet safe sites for camping. Ask yourself certain questions while choosing a campsite;
Is it safe for children?
Safety is the pre-requisite of an ideal campsite for kids. If you’re camping on a hill, it’s likely that there are numerous steep cliffs, deep ditches, or ground depression that are quite common in forests and hillsides. Your child could run into such ditches and hurt themselves if they’re not careful. And we don’t suppose that exhilarated kids would be as cautious as we would like them to be. You also need to consider if there any wild animals in the wilderness. While many campers crave a face-off with the dangers that lurk in the darkness of a jungle, if you’re with kids, then such antics are a no-no. Therefore, gather intel about the region where you’re planning to camp. You could talk to someone who has already camped there and ask for their experience about the same.
Are there any dangerous lakes or poisonous plants nearby?
Nature is home to bountiful exquisite things. But it also has a dark side. You can find numerous poisonous plants that your child may find edible. You simply cannot take a risk with such a thing. It will take a simple google search to know if a specific forest or any similar region is home to such poisonous plants or not. If yes, stay miles away from this spot. Moreover, check if there are any deep or dangerous lakes to look out for.
Is navigating through these hills or forests easy?
You may have to mentally prepare yourself for the fact that your child may get lost in the wilderness. Forests and hills are an easy space to get lost inside. The thing you need to be concerned with; is it easy to find your way back or tough? Needless to say, dense forests are the worst place for a kid to get lost in. Thus, you might want to look for something sparser. It should be spaced enough that if you call out your child’s name, they would be able to hear you and reach back to you quickly. As long as it is easy to navigate through, it’s good enough!
Is it close enough to home in case of emergencies?
It is equally likely that you would get in trouble while camping. Your child could get hurt and would require to be taken home immediately. Thus, ensure that your campsite is fairly close to your home. In case of emergencies, you should be able to make it back.
Is there a toilet nearby?
Your kids might require some privacy while they do their business outside. Moreover, if you have a very small kid that is still undergoing their potty-training, you need to be extra careful as to where you decide to camp. If there’s a stream running nearby, it’s all the better. Your kids could have a perfect spot to freshen themselves up or maybe have fun in general. Who doesn’t like a stream of fresh and clear water?
Packing the camping essentials (the kids’ version)
When it’s children you’re going camping with, you might have to pack a little extra of everything. While we assume you’d be cooking food right on the campsite, you’re also recommended to pack plenty of snacks. Your kids would not get tired of letting you know that they’re hungry the entire journey. You could pack all their favorite but imperishable snacks. Don’t go for anything that would require considerable cooking. If your children are too young, pack their medicines, diapers, or any such thing they require on a daily basis. Throw in some of their toys as well. The other things that you will need while camping are;
- Sleeping bag
- Tent heater if cold weather is possible
- Foldable chairs and table (check this if the place you’re going to already has a provision of these things)
- Camera, backup batteries
- Flashlight and backup batteries
- Power banks
- Extra set of clothes
- First aid kit
- Backpack, Children
- Insect repellant
- General medications or any specific medicines your kids consume
If you’ll be cooking as well, pack;
- A Portable propane cooker, Barbecue grill or stove
- Raw food stuff, like meat
- Dish soap
While packing your bags, ensure that you don’t overpack. Refrain from packing too many clothes. The essential items listed above would anyway take too much space for additional clothes. People usually go camping for a day or two. Thus, if you think you can get by with just one additional set of clothes, other than what you’d be wearing on the day of the journey, then that would be ideal. Overpacking would make your backpacks heavier. They would seem fine at home, but once you walk the extra mile, you’d ruefully look at your bag and think you could’ve dropped some unnecessary things.
If this is your first time going camping with your kids, which would be a valid assumption considering that you’re reading this article, it is suggested that you do some trial runs. Camping requires patience, determination, and a strong will. At times, your kids could get so tired that they would desire their own bed more than anything. Even adults feel this way, so imagine what your children would feel like on their first time at a camp. They need to be trained for the tent-life. They need to experience sleeping on the ground to know what it would be like out there.
Thus, consider setting up a tent in your backyard and camping there for a few days. If your children are fussy about sleeping outside or cry to go back to their beds, they’re not ready for camping. However, if you repeat the model camping twice or thrice, your kids will eventually get accustomed to the whole set-up and won’t be as troublesome as you would anticipate. During the trial runs, do everything exactly the way you would during an actual camp. This means you would have to cook your meals outside with the kitchenware that you would be taking to the campsite. If your kid wants to go to the bathroom, ask them to do it outside. This would eliminate any anxiety they might have when it comes to doing the business under an open sky.
Get a big tent
If your kids are accompanying you, a small tent won’t do the trick. While two adults can manage in a small tent, a kid can be restless during such an exhilarating time. They could run about the small tent and weaken their grips. Thus, go for a big tent that can easily fit your entire family.
You could also buy two tents to accommodate more space. If you think that buying two tents is a little too much, you can also rent tents. This option is considered cost-effective. You will be able to save plenty of bucks and still have an excellent time with your family! Get a waterproof tent, even if you’re not camping in the monsoon. Weather can prove to be highly unpredictable. Thus, don’t believe the weather forecast blindly and take the necessary precautionary steps.
How to Camp with Kids
Here comes the big day. We’re all packed, and we’re all prepared. All that stands between us and our destination is a long and gleeful journey. A day road trip is something any camper would suggest to you. If there’s a long journey ahead, we recommend that you wake up early, preferably in the morning, and set toward your destination. The longer the journey, the sooner you should wake up. Our goal here is to reach the destination in broad daylight, as night driving can be dangerous, especially if you’re driving into the woods or mountains.
Once you reach the destination in daylight, begin setting up your camp before the night falls. This will make putting up the tent much simpler. We suppose you’ve already practiced setting up the tent in the trial runs we talked about earlier. So, putting up the tent this time wouldn’t be so troublesome for you. You could also set up the campfire before it gets dark. Prepare your;
- Foldable chairs and tables
Be sure to involve the kids in setting up the tent, campfire, and other camping tasks as well. If your children are old enough, you could also trust their instincts and let them choose the campsite! This could do wonders to their confidence and help them develop as a person at the forefront of a task. Allow them to fix the poles of the tents, fetch water or firewood, or any other thing that you require to set up the base. Give them tasks that suit their age, level of understanding, and physical build. If you’re with toddlers, well, they’re better off playing in the mud, lest they hurt themselves whilst trying to be helpful. But if they’re above the age of 4, involve them in the “adults work” as much as possible.
Build the campfire
There’s no camping without the campfire. You must plan how and what kind of a campfire you would be putting up. Accordingly, you would have to pack the essentials, like kindling, tinder, and firewood. Moreover, if you’re cooking, which you naturally will, you would need to bring about a stove as well. Put everything in place in the evening. Make sure that during the trial runs, you give words of caution to your kids about the fire. Ignite the fire 30 minutes before you wish to begin the campfire event. This is because, at times, it can take hours to light a roaring fire, which is precisely what we want during a campfire. Begin building a campfire early, so you’d have plenty of time to enjoy.
Follow the same routine of the children
Most kids are accustomed to a certain schedule. Do not hamper the natural routine of the children. Make them eat the dinner at their usual dinner time, and get them to sleep at their usual bedtime. While the adults could have a party of their own all through the night, you don’t want your kids to stay up late. Allowing them to stay up past bedtime could make them cranky and also drowsy the next day. Similarly, get them to wake up the next morning at their usual hour serve breakfast on time. If you’re determined to stick to the general schedule of the kids, you won’t face any troubles during the trip, nor once you get back home. Don’t give your little ones a solid reason to skip school.
Keep a night light or a lantern beside you
If you have kids, they would not be accustomed to pitching a tent in darkness. Even if they are, the darkness in the middle of the wilderness is a whole different story. Thus, it will be good if you keep a lit night lamp or a lantern inside the tent. This will have a two-fold benefit. One, you will have a brightly lit tent, and nobody would feel scared. Two, if you want to go out of the tent to do some business, you won’t have to stress yourself with finding the torch. You could simply pick the lantern up and be on your way.
Additionally, choose a spot that’s not a mosquito hotspot. Flies, mosquitoes, and insects can be hosts to various fatal diseases. While you’ve already bathed yourself in a mosquito repellant, you can never be too careful. But since you’d be lighting a lantern, you could attract moths and mosquitoes to your direction. The only hack to his problem is to avoid mosquito hotspots. You could also purchase a light that deflects mosquitoes rather than attracts them.
Explore the campsite
The campsite you choose would be your home for the next day or two. This is your ultimate destination, and you’ve come here to relax and have fun. You and your partner would prefer taking a stroll under lush trees or ruffle your bare feet through fallen leaves of the autumn. But your kids won’t be satisfied with a mere conversation with nature. They would want to do something, an activity of sorts. Thus, you need to gear up for a bustling day.
If there is a lake nearby, a safe one at that, you could pack some fishing sticks as well and hunt your dinner right on the campsite. The lake could also have a provision of a boating trip. Research about the same beforehand and make any bookings if needed. If it’s a popular place you’re going camping, brace yourself for some rush.
However, you could pack some of your own playtime gear as well. Frisbee is a good place to start. You can play frisbee virtually anywhere, and it will also not take an abundance of space in your bag like a ball would do. If you have a toddler with you, you can keep your toddler busy with various activities such as digging a hole or Lego or do some singing and keep your kid on its toes. If you have some space in the bag, consider packing some of their coloring or drawing work as well.
Drawing under the expanse of nature could do wonders to a young mind. Try to avoid electronics as much as you can. Unless it’s a camera. You don’t want to miss out on clicking countless beautiful pictures of your first family campout! Take lots of pictures and frame one as a memento!
Decently arrange your camping stuff
You must have packed a lot of stuff. From kitchenware to shelter arrangement to recreational objects, to clothing items, we’re packed from top to bottom. Naturally, you cannot be careless with such a massive amount of stuff. Therefore, organize the stuff once you unpack. Then, make a list of all the things that you’ve brought with you. This will ensure that you don’t forget anything behind when you take your leave at the end of your trip. Arranging the stuff would optimize the organization as well.
Select a designated spot for toilet
Once you get out in the wilderness, you will be pushed to be a part of the wild. Don’t expect fancy toilets to be on your side. The best you can expect is a private space in the middle of the forest. However, if it’s a toddler who is going through his potty-training we’re speaking of, then we have a lot of things to take care of. You could buy a mini toilet that mostly kids use to defecate while traveling. In case your child is big enough to defecate themselves, and require their own private space for the business, choose a campsite that has a toilet located nearby. Or, you could also accompany the kid while they get done with the business.
5 Factors to Consider When Camping with Kids
Camping with kids can be wildly different from camping with adults. There are various things to consider before going camping with your kids.
Here we have discussed all five of them!
1. Avoid associating with wild animals
While animals can be excellent companions to associate with, you don’t want them near you during camping. We suggest you choose a campsite that is miles away from any sort of wildlife. This can be a little tricky, as forests are the natural habitat of the wildlife. Nonetheless, you could find such a spot for a night or two if you do your research well.
However, if you do encounter wild animals, notwithstanding your efforts to avoid them, don’t allow your kids to go near them. Don’t make an effort to feed them, regardless of how adorable you think they are. Even wild rabbits could prove to be harmful one way or the other.
2. Apply mosquito repellent and sunscreen while in the wilderness
The wilderness is home to various disease-carrying flies, mosquitoes, and insects. Naturally, if you intrude on their home, the forest, you’re bound to be attacked by them. It is up to you to ensure the safety of your family by asking your children to apply the necessary repellant on their arms and legs. Moreover, if you’re hiking in summer, you’re at an exponential risk of sunburn. They could prove to be excruciatingly painful, should you not apply the sunscreen. Therefore, yes to sunscreens and no to sunburns. Yes, to mosquito repellants and no to diseases! We want your camping trip to be memorable for all the good reasons!
3. Rent an RV
The best thing you could do if you’re taking your kids on a camping trip is rent an RV instead of driving in your regular car. Recreational vehicles or RVs are an excellent way to transport your family luxuriously on a camping trip. You’ll find comfort and fun, all packed into one vehicle. You could transport the bulk of essentialities in the RV and find a portable bathroom as well! This is perfect if your children are concerned about their privacy during the trip. And renting an RV is a perfect way to save money while having fun. You could find various affordable vehicles from RV rental companies near you.
We know you will do every possible thing to ensure that your kids don’t get lost. But we have to expect the worst to always be one step ahead of any mishap. Thus, instruct your kids on what to do in case they seem to find themselves lost. If they mentally prepare themselves for such an event, should the misfortune come to pass, they won’t get panicked and choose their course of action with a level head. Or at least try to do the same. You could also plan some drills at home for practice. The two things you can do to ensure that your kids navigate their way back to you is, give them a cellphone and a map. Disposable cellphones are a cost-effective method to secure the safety of your kids. To seal the deal, if your children are old enough to understand a map, you could also give them a map of the forest.
5. Teach the necessities
You can do everything in the world right to safeguard your kids, but if the little demons are careless enough, something is bound to go wrong. Evidently, you would have to give close instructions to your children about all the aspects of camping. From instructions on the “got lost protocol” to “no, don’t go there!”, every instruction needs to be repeated twice, thrice, even four times. Tell them to not go anywhere alone. Tell them to stay away from all the wild animals, regardless of their degree of cuteness. Tell them not to swim in a random lake, regardless of its exquisiteness.
Camping with your children can be the best experience ever if you do all the things right! As long as you plan each aspect of the camping beforehand and consider everything that could wrong, you could gift your family a wonderfully memorable camping trip. This comprehensive camping guide included everything you need to know about camping with kids. In this article, we covered;
- How to prepare to camp with your kids
- How to camp with kids
- Factors you need to consider before camping with kids
Happy Camping from the team at Foot Sloggers!