Making Camping Fun for Kids (Part II)
If you think you’ve exhausted all the ways to get your kids to fall in love with camping, take a look at our list. Did you miss the first part of this series? Head over to Part I to get our full spectrum of ideas.
Help them see it’s the cool thing to do
Bring the kids to a popular family camping area on a busy weekend to show them all the people (especially all the kids!) who are spending the weekend outdoors. Take them on a popular trail there, or head out for a canoe ride on a lake so they can get the full experience, but in bite-size form. Showing them that others are having a good time outdoors will help them want to try as well.
Does your child have separation anxiety if their favorite video game isn’t in their hands? Time for a break. If they don’t do well with being told they can’t bring their game, allow them to pack it, then quietly remove it before heading out. If they ask, let them know you can’t locate it.
It may be a tall tale and perhaps not the approach every parent will want to take, but for some, the important part is getting them to focus on the outdoors rather than their video game. Since electronic stimulation can become an addiction for children (and adults), irrational behavior can occur. A momentary lapse in full disclosure might be worth it in cases where flat-out rejecting that a child bring their device would cause contention for the entire weekend. Using this approach might help keep anger at bay and encourage them look for attention alternatives (like the all the wonderful things you’ve got planned in the outdoors).
Don’t underestimate their abilities, but let them challenge themselves. One parent reported that her 5 year old participated in an 8 hour hike with very little complaints. Kids can do amazing things and the sense of accomplishment they will have when you believe in them is very important to them enjoying the outdoors.
Get them involved in the dinner-making process by taking along things that they can easily pitch in with. Tinfoil dinners (or hobo) dinners are a great example of this. Kids can select from ingredients like potatoes, meat, cheese, veggies, spices, etc. that they would like to have go into their meal. They pile it all into a tin foil square, then wrap it up tight and turn it with a stick in the coals of a fire. It gets everyone together and talking while cooking.
Help Them Sleep
Tire them out. Parents already know that the more active their kids are, the better they sleep. So while you may feel like relaxing at camp, your kids’ imaginations and energy levels are ripe for exploration. Remember that these discovery moments with them are fleeting; besides, if you tire them out now, you can enjoy a peaceful evening (and more s’mores) once they’re tuckered out.
Shadow puppets: These weigh next to nothing and take up very little room, but provide a way for little ones to entertain themselves until they fall asleep. Prop a flashlight up to shine against the tent wall, then start things off with a story of your own. Afterwards, hand the puppets over to them to create their own shadow story on the tent wall. Their imaginations will keep them occupied until they fall asleep.
Are you a parent that has successfully instilled a love of camping and the outdoors in your children? Share your tips with the rest of us by leaving a comment!
Check out Making Camping Fun for Kids (Part I) if you missed it
Be sure to read How to Camp with Kids and Not Lose your Mind as well.