Camping with kids is a great way to strengthen your family and make lasting memories. Something magical happens when your kids put down the electronics, turn off the TV, and get back to nature. When the white static clears and your family goes green, your kids will have the opportunity to communicate, use their imagination, learn new skills and have loads of fun.
Many people believe making memories is a passive event but preparation, teaching your kids about nature, and finding ways to spark your kids’s imagination will really enhance the camping adventure for your family.
Preparation is extremely important when camping with kids. Obviously, having the proper lodging, food and toiletries is essential. But in addition, don’t forget to have fun options for your kids. Adjusting to not having videos games, televisions and cellphones may lead to a little “shell shock.” Below are some fun outdoor activities for kids to get them moving and fire up their imaginations.
Bring Bikes. In state parks, paved roads are ideal for bike riding. Bike helmets are strictly enforced in state parks, so don’t forget the bike helmets. Riding bikes with your family can be so much fun. Many kids bring their bikes camping, so your kids may make new friends while biking as well.
Bug houses and habitats. Bring bug catchers and habitats. You can find these for around $2 in many discount stores. My kids love catching bugs and small tree frogs. Siblings who constantly argue, come together as they search for little tree frogs. Small flashlights and headlights are good to give to your kids as they search for these small creatures. Just remind your children not to leave the campsite or go wandering into the woods after the sun goes down. My kids like to go bug catching in the evenings. Before we go to bed, they release their frogs and bugs.
Glow sticks and necklaces. As the sun goes down, give out glow stick necklaces to your children (who are age appropriate). Give each child a different color. This is a camping tradition around our campfire that our kids always enjoy. These glowing necklaces also help me keep watch over my kids in the dark. Big Brother is easy to identify with his green glowing necklace. And Middle Gal is not far behind with her pink glowing necklace.
Bananas. My husband came up with this camping game when our kids were very young. He brings bananas to the campsite without the kids knowing. He puts the banana on top of the tent early in the morning, before the other campers are awake. When we wake up, as we lie in our sleeping bags, our kids can see the shadow of a banana lying on the top of our tent. This leads to a discussion. How did that banana get up there? Who put it up there? My husband made up a silly story about a friendly monkey, who escaped from the zoo and has decided to share his banana with us. The next morning the banana will be in a different place and sometimes 2 bananas will show up. Of course, we always eat the banana with our breakfast. My older children are starting to catch on that it is probably Daddy putting those bananas up there, so now they are in on the joke. They come up with more silly monkey stories. Their stories can even top their dad’s stories, which is pretty amazing!
Checkers and Uno cards. I usually add these to our camping supplies at the last minute in case there is a need for more camping entertainment. They have come in quite handy over the years. Our kids play these games with their friends from nearby campsites. And you will be glad you brought them if starts to rain.
Flashlights. Bring a small flashlight for each family member. Flashlights may be used to light your way to the bathhouse after dark, assist in the bug and frog search and may also be used in the ever important Shadow Show. When everyone is tucked in their sleeping bags, it’s time to bring out the flashlights and take turns making shadows on the walls. What a great way to end a wonderful day camping with kids!
I’ll see ya by the campfire.