The following is a guest post by Stephanie Trementozzi of Always Outdoors. I’m so pleased to welcome Stephanie, who is sharing her expertise on camping and the outdoors with us. I thought her submission was perfect timing for Earth Day and for those of you who have been observing Screen Free Week with your kids. Enjoy! – Kara
In our busy world today, our children experience many different activities, such as sports, dance, after school clubs and all kinds of lessons. These are great for the individual, but they don’t do much to “bond” the family together. That is why a family camping trip is perfect for bringing parents and children together in a common goal and activity.
Preparation is key to guaranteeing a successful camping trip. Preparation falls into three main categories: planning the trip, getting there, and campground activities.
Planning the Trip
One of the best ways of ensuring your children’s enjoyment is to involve them in the planning of the trip. What are their interests? Are they swimmers, fishermen, hikers, horseback riders?
Pick out some brochures or find some online websites that feature a variety of these activities. You may have to do some initial screening, but the point is to give them a choice.
Another thing to consider is how developed the campsite is. If this the first time camping, you might want to include sites with showers, a camp store and playground.
So now you have decided where you want to go. The next area of preparation is food. Let your children pick out some of their favorite meals, that can be prepared easily over a campfire or a portable camping grill.
If they are old enough, each child could be responsible for preparing the meal that they have chosen. You will have to provide oversight, but the idea is to get the kids involved.
Sit down with pencil and paper and start making lists. You need lists of foods to take and utensils to cook with.
Okay, now you have the campground and the food organized. It’s time to think about clothing. With guidance, let your children pick out their own clothes.
Here’s an opportunity to teach them about the principle of layering their clothes. It’s better to take several tee shirts, sweaters, vests and light weight jackets, rather than one heavy jacket. This way they can adjust to changing weather conditions.
If you have small children, let them choose a special stuffed animal or blanket to help them fall asleep at night.
The big day has arrived and you’re off in your RV, trailer or car. You have already planned ahead for the trip by letting each child choose what game or activity they want to play with while they’re traveling.
Try to include some group games. They can watch for alphabet letters on signs, or look for different license plates. Twenty questions is also a good game. Don’t forget silly songs like “B I N G O”.
If they’ve chosen some of their favorite snacks, your trip should be fairly painless.
Photo by Camping Blogger
You’ve arrived at the campground and have parked at your campsite. Here is where more preparation comes in handy. Everyone can be given a specific chore to do. It could be helping to set up the tent. Someone could be assigned to go fetch water. Even small children can look for kindling on the ground.
Here’s an opportunity to teach some environmental principles and camping etiquette:
- Only take dead wood on the ground.
- Don’t pick wild flowers; leave them for others to enjoy.
- Be considerate of other campers nearby, by not yelling or playing loud music.
- Teach them that people go camping to experience nature. Loud noise keeps you from hearing nature sounds.
- Talk to your children about picking up trash and leaving the campsite in the same condition it was when they arrived.
Hopefully, you’ve planned some activities with your children’s input. Try to focus on environmental education.
Photo by Travel Muse
If you have older children, a field guidebook will help in identifying trees, or wildflowers or whatever your children are interested in. The National Park Service has a book for children called Who Pooped in the Park? If you have boys, this is sure to be a big hit.
If you have young children, a color hunt is a fun activity. Be sure to include a magnifying glass or a pair of binoculars like the Nikon Monarch 8 X 42 binoculars for your bug and bird lovers.
A digital camera is handy for taking pictures of the flowers, rocks and trees that you see. Have your children write their own impressions of what they do each day. When you get home, you can make a scrapbook of what you have seen and what the kids thought about it.
I made a scrapbook with my children when we took a six week camping trip through many National Parks in the West. Now twenty years later, we still get out those albums and laugh about some of our adventures. This is all part of creating a family history.
Your children can be involved in all aspects of planning your camping trip. Preparation is essential and the key to a successful camping trip.
The suggestions above will insure that your family camping trip is a big success.
Author Bio: Stephanie Trementozzi has camped and hiked with her children and grandchildren for many years. She is the publisher of her own website, Always Outdoors, where she writes about outdoor activities and reviews outdoor products.