The Ultimate Guide For Camping With Kids
Camping is one of those outdoor adventures that leaves lasting memories and provides stories for years to come. Camping is also a fantastic bonding activity for families. As a family you cook together, plan activities together, and set up camp together.
Many kids grow up in a city where life is generally more heavily scheduled, influenced by electronic entertainment, and with limited opportunity for playing, adventuring and appreciating the natural environment. It’s never too early to start camping with your kids. Nature delivers a full-on sensory experience, and a family camping trip is a great way to initiate the younger set to the joys of being outside.
While the memories and stories will still be there, the mere thought of bringing kids camping is enough to strike fear into the hearts of parents everywhere. The prospect of camping with kids can be daunting. What if they don’t sleep? What if they try to pet a wild animal? Packing can be complicated, sleep patterns will change and etc.
But, with the right planning, you can make sure your overnight adventure under the stars goes smoothly. Today, we’re here to help you get started on making camping with kids a good experience for everyone.
Before we start, remember to check out our store for the best camping and hiking gear and accessories for your next trip! Also, check out some of our favorite camping sites for South Australia and Queensland, which may be perfect for your next family trip!
Pick your campsite
Before you even think about what to bring, you’ll want to think about where you are going. Camping with kids brings extra considerations that may not come into play when camping with only adults.
Pick campgrounds with amenities that suit your family’s needs. You will want to find a site that is fairly close to a bathroom. Some campgrounds have ballfields, beaches or swimming areas, streams or rivers and playgrounds; others offer picnic tables, flushing toilets and hot showers.
If it’s your first time out, start small, stick close to home and choose more developed campgrounds with buckets of amenities. Seek out a campground with large sites or book two sites next to each other to help prevent the all-night party crowd from keeping your kids up at night. Work your way up to more remote or adventurous locations or longer trips.
Choose the right sleeping gear
By far the biggest concern we hear regarding camping with kids is how to get them to sleep in unfamiliar territory. Warm comfy sleep is essential. Younger kids may want their pillow, favorite blanket or a stuffed animal. Opt for a thicker, more luxurious camp pad. For babies, use a play yard or portable crib if you have a tent that’s big enough for it. The Speedy 4-person tent is a good tent for family use, though for more comfort, it is advised to get at least 2 tents for the whole family. The more you camp, the more you’ll learn what you need and what you can live without. If it’s going to get really chilly you may want an extra blanket under and over your sleeping bags.
Check the weather and dress your kids for those outdoor conditions. If there’s a chance of rain, be prepared with rain jackets. Check the weather report and pack layers if needed. Temperatures can drop at night even if it’s hot and sunny during the day. Think layers so kids can put on or take off clothing as needed to adjust to temperature changes.
There is something special about sitting around a campfire. Whilst cooking on a campfire is romantic, in actuality it is hard to manage the temperature, and you need the right cooking equipment. Invest in a small collapsible two burner gas cooktop. You won’t regret it. Especially when you crawl out of bed the next morning desperate for a coffee!
In essence; keep it simple! Invest in a few of the ‘all in one’ sauce jars and serve up a delicious butter chicken or a beef stir-fry. Tacos are easy. Hamburgers are delicious and generally a favourite with everyone and better still can be served on a paper napkin to minimise washing up.
Snacks should be one of the main things to bring on a camping trip with kids. For dinner, there is nothing wrong with the tried and true “hotdog on a skewer” camping meal, but you may be wondering if other easy options exist. As a matter of fact, yes. Sausages and a bag of pre-made salad or spaghetti bolognaise, pre-cooked and frozen are simple and easy to prepare meals on a camping trip.
Toast some marshmallows. Roast potatoes wrapped in foil. Sweet and savoury jaffles allow the kids to design and make their own, once more with very little washing up. Get the kids involved with meal planning. If they are old enough, encourage them to plan and prepare a family dinner.
With kids around, it’s always better to be safe than sorry. Pack your first aid kit, sunscreen, bug spray, and a tick puller. Keeping these items handy, and always in the same spot, is key to staying calm when the need arises: you know exactly what you need, where it is, and what you’re doing.
Besides the normal first aid options, make sure you include insect deterrent. Mosquitoes love camping! As do ants, so lots of sealed containers and some bug spray is handy. Baby wipes have endless uses. Sun cream is a requirement wherever you go. And lest this causes any anxiety, remember that you’ll most likely only be applying sunscreen and bug spray…and maybe a band-aid or two.
Camping with kids provides time with parents minus the usual constraints of everyday life. Being in nature has proven to be good for your health, it makes us happy. You’ll burn some calories with the extra activities – not to mention you get a healthy dose of vitamin D. Kids enjoy the many benefits of ‘nature play’.