Camping can be a fun way for families to enjoy springtime. North America has experienced exceptionally cold weather, and the time between spring thaw and summer heat can be a nice way to shake off the chill or relieve cabin fever. Camping is a way for kids to experience the wonders of nature and participate in outdoor activities. Before hitting the great outdoors, though, parents need a game plan so that the whole family is happy.
Visit State or National Parks
The U.S. National Parks Service manages more than 700 campgrounds and each state has parks with campsites. These parks are good for families because parents can choose tent camping, RVs or cabins. Kids may not enjoy sleeping on the ground, showering in front of other people or using a Porto potty or the ground might enjoy a cabin. I’ve been in the woods in a tent as well as houses. I prefer enjoying the outdoors during the day and sleeping in air or heat at night. State and national parks also have hiking and biking trails, fishing areas and scheduled activities for kids. Some rent outdoor equipment.
Learn Animal Safety
Some families go camping and never see wild animals while others go on trips and see an abundance of wildlife. Whether you go to a private campsite or a state or national park, you are likely sharing the area with furry residents. Children need to learn how to react if they run into wild animals, whether it’s bears, snakes, skunks or mountain lions. These animals may appear on walking and biking trails or at campsites. Follow instructions about food storage and disposal.
Practice Setting Up a Tent
If parents decide to tent camp, have family practice sessions setting up tents and making campfires. Parents who’ve camped can teach their kids how to pitch a tent. Families going on their first trip should consider a popup tent. Hammacher Schlemmer has a tent that hold up to seven campers and sets up in 60 seconds. Go to local sporting goods stores for suggestions. A backyard campout can ease the family into outdoor camping.
Play Campfire Games
Camping is a time to leave electronic and computer games behind. Even campsite with electricity and cabins may not have television; therefore, parents need to be prepared with games to entertain their children. Bring board game on the trip or make up games and songs. It sound a little corny, but if someone can play a music instrument, bring it along. Kaboose.com offers a few suggestions for camping games and activities.
Pack Kid-Friendly Foods
Bring foods that children will enjoy on the camping trip. In general, parent should bring nonperishable food item and dried foods. Let children pick the foods they want to bring, but blend healthy items like canned soups, bean, peanut butter and jelly, and fruit. If fishing is part of the camping trip, bring cooking utensils. KOA Kampgrounds website has a few suggestions for campfire recipes. You can checkout other websites or get books from the library.
Carry a First Aid and Safety Kit
Pack a first aid kit with bandages, antiseptics, ointments and medicines for accidents. Bring plenty of waters and drinks with electrolytes for hikes and other outdoor activities. If the family plans to go on hikes or other active outings, parents need the appropriate safety equipment, including ropes, life jackets and poles. Be sure the equipment is the right size for kids-not too tight or too loose. Let the kids pick the styles and colors they want. Don’t forget sunscreen and bug spray. Pack clothing appropriate for the weather. It may be warm during the day and cool down at night.
Purchase a Camera
Kids like taking pictures. Parents don’t need digital cameras. Actually, disposable cameras are cheaper and won’t break if you drop them. Several disposable camera brands even have features that produce digital pictures. They can take pictures of the landscape or animals in the area. When the family gets home, they can create a family scrapbook.
In a world where children are spending more time indoors and glued to technology, camping is a way for parents and children to bond and get closer to nature. When children feel involved in the process and parents plan activities that the family will enjoy, the trip can be a fun family adventure.