So, braving the great outdoors on your own or with your significant other isn’t enough anymore. Now you want to take the kids.
Kids generally love camping, the young ones anyway. There are things to see and touch, new sounds to investigate and all the fresh air is invigorating for a child. But along with the joys of watching your kids enjoy the great outdoors comes the need for so much more stuff.
So. Much. More.
When it was just you and the significant other, you could throw some stuff in a couple of backpacks and take off. If you forgot something, no biggie – you’d just wing it.
Yeah, that doesn’t work so well when you have kids in tow. Nothing will signal an early end to a camping trip faster than forgetting your toddler’s favorite stuffed critter that he needs to cuddle before going to sleep. Yep, “winging it” flew out that window that’s next to the rear-facing car seat.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t have a wonderful camping experience with the kids – you just have to plan better. Here are four plus four more (this will make sense later) pointers to help you plan an awesome camping experience for everyone.
1. Make a List, Check it Twice. Check it Five More Times
There is so much more stuff needed when you add a kid to your camping adventure that it’s next to impossible to remember everything that has to go with you. Seriously, make a list – don‘t be a hero. As you pack, check the items off your list.
When you complete your list, double check that everything on your list has been packed. Then double check your list to make sure everything you need made it on your list. Wash, rinse, repeat until your ride out of the driveway.
Hopefully you remembered everything.
2. Entertainment is Everything
Sure – your kids will get a kick out of examining rocks, trees and the lake, but eventually the words “I’m bored!” will come out of someone’s mouth. Or, the weather will betray you and you’ll end up on a rainy camping trip.
This is where the “entertainment” advice comes in handy. Cards, travel board games, paper, crayons and markers can keep your kids entertained and your sanity intact. Plus a lot a good memories can be made while playing a hot and heavy game of War, Dominos or Go Fish.
3. Go Camping in a Group
If you have friends who also love to camp, why not plan a group camping trip? Kids are always more entertained when they have friends around so that will cut down on the “we’re bored!” complaints.
The adults will also have buddies to pal around with, so if you don’t want to bait your hubby’s hook you won’t have to. It’s also easier for a group of adults to corral a group of kids than it is for just one or two. Finally, you can share resources, so if you remembered the cooking spray but not the aluminum foil and your friend remembered the foil but not the spray, you’re both covered
4. Teach the Kids About Camping
Although most kids like camping, there are some children that don’t take to the great outdoors. Whether they are afraid of the dark or just don’t like to leave their home environment, camping is a less than fun idea to them. But there are +4 things you can do to get them ready:
• Dry run in the backyard. Go camping in the backyard. Your child will get the concept of sleeping outdoors, but the comfort of his own bed is only a few feet away if the experiment goes awry.
• Explore the neighborhood after dark. Take flashlights and walk around the neighborhood at night. This will help your little one get used to the night sounds.
• Glow sticks are your friends. Get a bunch and take them with you on the dry run and the night walk. You’ll also want to take them with your when you go on the actual camping trip.
• Read books about camping to your child. This way she’ll know what to expect when you blow up that big vinyl thing she has to sleep on.
Use these tips as you plan your camping trip with your kids. There will still be complications, things will be forgotten (like the first aid kit … make sure it’s high on your list), but in the end, many wonderful, life-long memories will be gained. And that’s worth all the hassles in the world.