The parents’ survival guide for camping with kids
This is natural, right? Isn’t that why it’s called nature? This is how families were meant to co-exist: peacefully amid the birds and the deers, sipping clean water from the creek and bathing in the glistening waterfall.
More like throwing rocks and tantrums, crying over boredom and starvation, whining about dirty shoes and fingernails and no cell phone service.
Planning a Memorial Day camping trip sounds like such a glorious idea … until you’re there, and you realize it’s not exactly second-nature to many modern families. Especially kids, who seem to be spending less and less time outside.
That’s exactly why it’s important to get them out there, of course. But we also don’t want you sacrificing yourself to the cause.
Here are some important tips (from parents who have been there, done that). May we present, the parents’ survival guide for camping with kids:
1. Practice camping at home, advises REI.com. Pop up a tent in the backyard (or even the basement). Let your kids become familiar with the new sleeping environment.
2. Pack fun (but non-electronic) toys and games. Get a marshmallow launcher or a Frisbee. Let your kids get a little dirty and silly. Check out REI’s Lego-man headlamp for $15, or the Stormtrooper LED flashlight for $28. Camping does not have to be serious.
4. Get out and explore. Prevent boredom by leaving the campsite. Go on a hike. Organize a self-guided scavenger hunt. Let your kids take the lead. Pack bikes and go on a bike tour. Bring a fishing pole and try to catch dinner. Other ideas:
- Go on an alphabet hike, searching for things that start with every letter of the alphabet.
- Go on a wildflower hike, or bring binoculars and give bird-watching a go.
- For older kids, plan a cooking contest. Ask each person to bring one item to share — and get creative. What can you cook with a camp stove and some tin pans? You might be surprised.
- Go Boy Scout style. Tell ghost stories around the campfire. Learn to tie knots.
5. If you’re camping with a baby, bring easy-to-pack baby food in a jar. Bring your milk in tetra packs or to-go cartons, so it doesn’t need refrigerated. Save space by dividing up snacks into plastic baggies (and reuse them, in the name of Mother Earth).
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Photos courtesy of REI.com.