Camping with kids is a lot of fun, but it can also be crazy sometimes. Kids are often very busy and active people – and sometimes us adults would rather relax and slow down when we are in nature!
We’ve been camping with our kids since they were babies…and with three kids we’ve definitely learned a lot of things to do when we go camping to make sure we all stay happy!
1. Don’t let them pack.
Unless you want no socks, pants, underwear for said child and a suitcase full of stuffed animals taking up valuable space in the car.
We do like to give our kids some control and responsibility for what they bring along – so usually we give each child a backpack for storing their personal belongings such as coloring pads + crayons, a favorite stuffed animal, a portable game, etc. etc.
2. DO Pack Lots of Extra First Aid Supplies:
A well stocked first aid kit is a must when camping with kids.
Pack everything over the counter you can fit into a clear storage tote – and be sure it stays organized so you can always find what you need should you need it.
See our checklist for packing the ultimate camping first aid kit with tips on keeping it organized.
3. Bring Activities:
While most campgrounds have plenty of things to do between nature trails and fishing and swimming – it helps to have a couple of things just in case the boredom sets in of not having any video games or wifi service.
See our HUGE list of 101 Camping Activities for Kids for so many ways to keep them entertained!
4. Set Boundaries and “Quiet Time”
Camping together as a family in a small space like a tent, rv or cabin can mean intruding in each other’s personal space quite a lot.
Setting boundaries of when you are and are not in each other’s space is important.
With kids, this might mean actually doing some activities without the whole family. For example, I might go on a bike ride with one kid while the other spends some quiet time reading or my husband might take the kids kayaking while I sneak in a nap.
Doing this all helps us all to recharge and stay balanced!
5. Learn and Experience As Much as You Can:
Camping trips are a great way to learn and experience the world around you. Look at every moment as an opportunity to learn something new.
Getting a handy pocket guide book to identify different trees, flowers or birds native to the area can be a fun way to explore.
You could also check out some nearby historical points of interest where you are staying. Every place has a history, so even if there’s not many sight-seeing spots where you are camping, there are certainly some people who have a story to share.
6. Every Child Gets Their Own Headlamp:
Flashlights are fun, but most kids will either let the batteries die or lose it before the first day of camping. For this reason, we invested in LED headlamps for each of our kids.
The headlamps are perfect for kids because it is really hard to lose or forget about something when it is attached to your head!
It’s also not as likely to be dropped or broken! If your kids don’t like to wear it on their head, the elastic strap makes it possible that you can always wrap it around your arm or even attach to your ankle like a bracelet.
7. Dig in the Dirt:
Camping means you’ll likely be covered in bug spray, sunscreen, sand, dirt, and who knows what else.
Dirt is not the end of the world.
Do laundry at the camp laundromat if one is available, bring lots of stain out remover for your clothes, and just make sure each child goes to bed with clean face, hands, and feet and teeth brushed.
8. Go over Safety Info:
Kids should always learn how to survive outdoors and be safe while camping as soon as they can. Camping gives a lot of opportunities for safety lessons – everything from basic travel safety to understanding poisonous plants, food safety, and wildlife safety.
9. Everybody Does Some Work
Camping can sometimes also be a LOT of work, especially when you have a whole family of people. Things like cooking dinner, doing the dishes, washing the clothes still need to be done while camping.
There’s also often times additional chores that might need to be done, such as splitting firewood, building a fire, and making sure the fire stays going.
It’s important that everybody does their share of the work around the campsite because it’s not fair if one person is always cooking and cleaning and never able to go out and have fun!
10. Take Snack Breaks Often
Kids are always hungry. And when you are camping, you tend to burn up a LOT of energy fast, especially when you are doing a lot of fun outdoor activities like swimming, biking, kayaking and hiking.
When kids get hungry + tired = everybody is crabby, cranky, and miserable!
To help keep everybody happy, we like to plan for several snack breaks during the day. There are all kinds of yummy camping snacks to enjoy – whether it’s cheese and crackers or veggies and dip.
You should also make sure the kids stay hydrated while camping. Our kids all carry their own water bottles and we make sure they are drinking enough throughout the day.
Do you have any tips for camping with kids that you’ve learned over the years? Share your thoughts in the comments below!