By Olivia Jones:
The first camping experience for children is bound to be memorable for many reasons. To begin with, family bonds are strengthened since family spend all their time together. Next, an environment completely different from the one children are used to can inspire them to explore and learn more about nature. Finally, a sense of adventure may have a lasting impact on the way they perceive the world.
In order for this experience to be memorable in a positive way, however, you need to prepare both yourself and the whole family properly for such an adventure. So, let’s take a look at what needs to be done for the entire family to benefit from such a trip.
Prepare the children
Since most children are inquisitive and adventurous by nature, chances are they’ll be excited to hear that you’re planning a camping trip. Still, their willingness and readiness is one thing, while the real experience is something quite different. Luckily, there are many resources such as this book, which can help you.
To encourage your children, you can read camp-themed picture books before the trip to show them pictures of other families camping. If you have a child who is afraid of the dark, make sure you pack portable nightlights and headlamps for kids. Finally, do a dry run by camping in the backyard to give them a taste of what being in a tent feels like.
Choose your provisions wisely
It’s very easy to pack too many things for a camping trip, or to pack things that take up a lot of space in your car, for example. Be rational: bring only the essential things because one of the points of camping is to be reintroduced to what is really necessary in life.
Plan your meals carefully and pack accordingly. For instance, instead of glass jars, bring mayo, ketchup and mustard packets. You can put spices and condiments into small plastic containers or little bags to save space for what is more important. Having labels on everything you pack is a good idea because, for example, in poor light you may easily mistake oil for dish soap.
Choose the right tent
Many well-known outdoor recreation areas with dependable outfitters offer equipment for rent. That’s a great idea because you don’t want to invest a lot of money in camping gear and equipment only to find that your family doesn’t feel comfortable in such an environment. Anyway, there is a wide range of quality camping tents that set up in under two minutes and provide your family with privacy and warmth.
Just make sure you choose a tent big enough to accommodate the whole family and still leave some space for your belongings. Having standing room inside the tent is also quite useful, since it makes changing clothes a lot easier. If you’re expecting rain or strong winds, make sure your tent is sturdy enough to keep you dry and safe.
Depending on the age of your loved ones, you’ll have to allow them to bring some toys. Just make sure they don’t pack a whole bag of toys. Tell them to select just a few and pack them themselves if they’re old enough.
Some board games could be a good idea for the entire family, especially in the evening; but that also depends on what kind of activities you and your family prefer. Some kids love reading, so let them bring a book, which they can read using their own headlamp.
Go with friends
If possible, invite a family or two to go camping with you, especially if they too have children. The more, the merrier, as they say. You kids will be less likely to feel lonely or bored if they have peers to spend time with. Also, it’s great to organize life on the campground by splitting up meal responsibilities — and you can always rely on your friends to have something you’ve forgotten to pack.
A first-aid kit is essential
Bug-bite remedies, insect repellents and ibuprofen for children are essential items in any well-stocked first-aid kit that you need to take camping with you. Naturally, a pair of tweezers and a magnifying glass should be there, too, since your kids might get little splinters in their hands and feet.
If you child is receiving a regular therapy, don’t forget to pack the right amount of medicines, but don’t overdo it. Finally, duct tape is important since you can use it to patch a tent or a sneaker, or to immobilize an injured finger. Also, it might be useful when dealing with cracked tent poles or a car-top rocket box.
As you can see, there are quite a lot of things you need to consider before embarking on the first camping trip with your family. If you manage to prepare well and react appropriately to whatever may happen during the trip, you’re guaranteed to have one of the experiences that your children will remember for as long as they live.
Olivia is psychologist and entrepreneur from Brisbane. Mother of two beautiful children and proud owner of two silly boxer dogs, Teo and Mia, she is passionate about writing and always inspiring her readers to be clever in their lives. Her motto is “Be the change you want to see in the world.”