Entertaining Kids on Camping Trips
The mountain peaks stretching high into the clouds, the sounds of birds chirping, the smell of tall evergreens tickling your nose. Overlanding is a journey that rewards all the senses. In order to share this enlightening experience with kids, perspectives and expectations have to be altered.
We have camped with our boys since they were babies. It would be fair to say they’ve never known life without camping. Some of their first steps were taken on hiking trails. Atticus’ first international camping trip was when he was just 2 months old. All of this to say, our family has spent years figuring out what kids actually need when camping.
There are millions of products advertised to make life simpler when camping with kids, but how do we determine what is necessary? As much as we love so many of the new innovations, we’ve come to find that less is more, especially when camping out of a car.
Just Because You Can Doesn’t Mean You Should
Some storage solutions will allow you to bring more stuff. How great, right? Not necessarily. I’ve lost count of how many times we’ve brought toys or bikes for the boys that didn’t get touched once on a trip. You know what the stuff did? It got in the way CONSTANTLY.
The cool part about overlanding is that you are reaching parts of the world that are full of natural wonders to discover. When we find our camping spot, the first thing the boys want to do is explore. So when people ask what our kids play with at a campsite, they’re shocked when we say “dirt, sticks and rocks.” A child’s imagination is so powerful, especially when it’s free to run wild in nature.
When you’re pulling together the fun stuff, remember that just because you can pack something in, it doesn’t mean you should. Don’t fall victim to the ‘what if’ game. Too many options is a headache for you and it can overwhelm your kids. The idea of getting out in nature is to slow down, not crank up the stress!
What Will Kids Do At The Campsite
Kids have the most incredible imaginations. Take away the constant stimulation modern society produces and you see those imaginations come to life! All of the sudden your kids are astronauts on a mission to Mars, or chefs making mud pies for your campsite.
Rather than putting your time and money towards new toys for your upcoming trip, put effort into researching activities your family can do in the area you’re traveling to. There are a ton of resources available to help you discover local gems, like local government websites, tourist websites, social media platforms and so many more. We typically start with a simple Google search and then head over to YouTube.
What about when we’re just hanging out at the campsite? The boys participate in camp set up, cooking meals and starting the campfire. When they’re off exploring and playing, they take their cameras and walkie talkies. Glow sticks are a huge hit every time, although the boys don’t typically last long enough on the longer summer days to use them. Every night we end our day with the boys reading trivia books around the campfire.
How To Involve Kids
Our number one recommendation to keep your kids entertained while camping is to involve them in everything! Patience is key, but the result is SO rewarding.
Not sure where to start? Baby steps. Allow your kids to start by setting up the camp chairs. Ask them to hold the stakes for your tent as you set it up. When it’s meal time, let them pour ingredients in the pan as you’re cooking. All kids love stirring! What about that firewood? It’s not going to stack itself! There are so many little jobs that the entire family can help out with. Teamwork makes the dream work!
Get ready for some unexpected reactions. Your kids will start glowing with pride. Feeling valued will make such a huge impact on them. This feeling is what they’ll associate with camping! That’s a win in our book.