Camping with the whole family is a great way to get outside and make some memories that last a lifetime. But for younger children, the idea of living and sleeping outside, even if it’s in a tent, can be scary since it’s a new concept.
So, what are the best ways to get your kids interested in camping? We’ve got the answers.
It really comes down to preparing them for the main aspects of camping, like eating outside and walking around at night time. Here are a handful of recommendations to instill the love of camping in your kids.
1. Read camping books
This is especially helpful for younger children.
When young kids read an entertaining story about someone similar to them doing something that may seem scary, like camping, it eases their fears a bit and, hopefully, gets them excited to participate in the real thing.
Additionally, it gives you, as the parent, an opportunity to reference a storyline while you’re actually camping that could ease your child’s mind.
A great book to pick up is Scaredy Squirrel Goes Camping. The main character, Scaredy Squirrel, doesn’t want to deal with his perceived perils of camping. But when he’s forced to go to the campground, he lays out a plan and is surprised by how easy it is to overcome the obstacles of camping, allowing him to enjoy the simple pleasures of nature.
2. Plan more outdoor activities
One of the easiest ways to prepare your kids for camping is by simply planning more outdoor activities.
Go on daily walks. Instead of playing at the local playground, head into a nearby forest instead.
Really challenge yourself to see how long you can keep your kids outside on a weekend, so when they potentially complain about camping because they don’t want to be outside for an extended period of time, you can point to those days where they played outside all day.
Even better, look for community improvement projects, where you and your kids can spend a majority of the day outside making a difference.
Read More : The 10 National Parks in U.S. Kids Will Love
3. Go on a picnic
Eating at a campsite is also a new idea for kids and something they need to get used to.
Going on a picnic is a simple way to get them comfortable eating outside. You can take it a step further by going to a public park where there’s likely a charcoal grill available for use. Cook up some hotdogs or hamburgers to really give them a taste of the camping experience.
Also, feel free to bring along your camping utensils and cups to show them what they use to eat while camping in the great outdoors.
4. Do a backyard dry-run
If your kids are hesitant about camping for a weekend, one of the easiest sells to convince them otherwise is doing a backyard camping trip.
After waking them up and having some breakfast, pull out your tent and teach them how to set it up in the backyard. If you have a portable fire pit, teach them how to start a proper campfire.
And then make the rest of the day all about fun. Play games, throw a baseball around, and make s’mores. Your goal is to make the day as enjoyable as possible so when it’s time to head to a real campsite, your kids will not only be comfortable with the idea, but they’ll also be excited.
5. Go fishing
Fishing and camping go together like two peas in a pod.
So, if your kids really get into fishing, you can combine that passion with camping. The strategy is pretty simple: as you fish more and your kids see some success with it, they’re going to want to ask you to go fishing more often.
Your next move is pitching them on a camping trip in an area that’s known for great fishing. Your kids will be so excited about the new fishing spot that, naturally, they’ll also be interested in the camping trip.
Fishing is also an activity that can help pass the time. Remember, camping with children isn’t just about sitting around the campfire. Kids like structure and activities, so add fishing to their camping to-do list.
6. Take a flashlight walk at night
One of the scarier parts about camping for some kids is the fact that they have to be outside in the dark. So, the best way to alleviate that fear is to face it.
After dinner and while the sun is going down, go on a simple neighborhood walk and bring a flashlight. A nice walk not only gets your kids outside but, more importantly, gets them used to being outside at nighttime.
We recommend letting your kid hold the flashlight because it’ll make them feel more important and potentially safer.
If you have multiple children, end your walk in the backyard with a game of flashlight tag for a little fun.
7. Build a bonfire
The bonfire is the main attraction for any camping site, so teach your kids the proper technique of building a bonfire.
The easiest place to do this is in your backyard, but if you want to head to some open space such as the beach where you can legally enjoy a fire (some coastal cities allow you to have fires on a beach), that’s a much better option.
Use this opportunity to not only teach your kids how to build a bonfire and make that perfect s’more, but also about fire safety when camping.
Andrew Dodson is an avid camper who enjoys the great outdoors with his wife and two-year-old son. He resides in Colorado, where you can often find him enjoying hikes with a toddler strapped to his back and mini goldendoodle Percy nearby.