Camping with kids | Ultimate Guide

Camping with kids

kid starting a campfire

Camping with children can be a fun and rewarding experience for the entire family. It is always best to plan ahead; whether you are going car camping, backpacking or canoeing. Bring everything that you think that you might need, as well as plenty of snacks, drinks and entertainment. You will want to make sure that everyone has a jacket at night as this will ensure that they stay warm and comfortable. Make sure that everyone has their own sleeping bag, pillow, flashlight and perhaps an air mattress. Remember to bring some activities for the kids such as a paddle or Frisbee and perhaps your bike or rollerblades. The excitement of being outdoors will be appreciated by all in your family.

The Basics Of Camping With Kids

Camping with children is safe, just be sure to plan ahead so you can make it as fun and simple as you can for the younger ones. If possible try doing something similar before leaving on your trip so they have somewhat of an idea of what is going to happen when you go camping. This means you can do things like:

  1. Practice Camping At Home
  2. This is easy if you live in the country or anywhere close to a park with camping areas. If you do this try getting some of the supplies needed for camping and pretending like your going on an over night camp out. Get some flashlights, tents, sleeping bags, food that can be eaten cold outside and more all done up in a way that they might take them if it were an actual trip.

    This can be easily done too if you have a backyard. If you have a backyard that is somewhat large, set up your tent and pretend you are going camping. This can also be easily done when there is nothing special happening where you live.

    If you do have space for this where ever your camping will take place or close by all you need to do is get supplies needed and head off out into nature. This means bringing tents, sleeping bags and other things needed.

  3. Check Out A Camping Book From The Library
  4. If you live near a library check out some books about camping with kids so they can get used to pictures of what their expected surroundings will be when they go away for real. Most libraries have lots of books about camping which would be perfect for researching and previewing while at the same time educating your children where they might be staying.

    A camping trip may take place at a camp site, or it may mean setting up a tent in the backyard of whatever your child's home is. Either way, there are some things you should know about camping with kids before you go on their first real camping trip.

  5. Practice Tying Knots And Setting Up A Tent To Get An Idea Of What You Are In For
  6. rope knots

    When you arrive at the campsite that you have booked and paid for all set up can begin. However beforehand, practice tying knots if your children are too young to do this themselves (because they will need to) and set up a small tent in the back yard so that everyone gets used to what they are doing when it comes time to do it. It makes no sense trying to teach your kids how to tie a knot when it is time to tie said knots. Think about this, suppose when you get to your campsite you will be so nervous that you won't be able to do it, are your kids going to know what to do? Are they going to try and emulate you how ever well or badly you show them? If the answer is yes then I think there might be a problem.

  7. Make Sure You Pack the Right Stuff
  8. Plan ahead for all the things you will be carrying with you on your camping trip. If you are going hiking make sure you have the right footwear for all family members and also make sure that everyone has sufficient water in their bottles/canteens. This is important as dehydration can kill, so keep it in mind at all times. You can find out how much fluid a person needs per hour by simply using this formula: (Bodyweight X 0.3).

    For example, if someone weighs 70kg they need to drink 2 x 70 = 140ml every hour - and this figure will increase if there is extra activity involved eg. hiking up hills on a hot day. Kids are a little different, they cool down by sweating. Sweating is through the pores and this creates a cooling effect for the body, so you don't need to worry that they won't drink enough. However, I recommend giving kids a smaller bottle of water just in case they don't feel like drinking much and if they are really hot then feed them cold food like slices of cucumber or an iceblock.

    With any trip, but especially with children in tow it's always best to make sure you have lots of fluids with you at all times.

  9. Know where your emergency phone numbers are
  10. As a parent we automatically know our mobile number by heart as well as those of our other immediate family members including grandparents and siblings. But what about the numbers we might need in an emergency? If you are camping with kids, it is a good idea to know who to call if something happens. The emergency numbers in most states for looking after children are the Child Protection Hotline (131 478 ) or Child Emergency Service ( 132 078 ).

    Please be aware that people from other states may not know these numbers and you should have them written down somewhere so that if an accident occurs someone can easily preform CPR while they wait for the ambulance to arrive. Try making your own first aid kit.

    It's always a good idea to make your own first aid kit and keep it in a safe bag where it won't get lost or damaged with everything else. A great way of making your own first aid kit is writing out all of the things you would need on a piece of paper. You could use a sharpie to write out all of the things you may need on the back of a cereal box and when you are done just cut it out and put it into your first aid kit.

  11. Let your kids help with packing
  12. packing luggage

    This can get kids excited about how to prepare for the outdoors. Just let them know it's important to pack everything and be sure you don't leave anything out, otherwise somebody could get hurt.

    Imagine if your first aid kit was with you at home somewhere and a family member gets injured what would you do? At that point in time being prepared is most important and can actually help save someone's life.

    If you are planning on going outside for a long period of time always have water ready so nobody will get dehydrated from not having enough water. This may seem obvious but it is very easy to not drink enough water while still enjoying yourself by playing around or hiking when really they should be drinking more to stay hydrated while doing these things. Let your kids know the importance of staying hydrated.

  13. Let your kids choose some of the snacks and food to bring
  14. camping snacks

    If you are traveling with a specific age of kids go ahead and let them choose some snacks they really enjoy hopefully that way you will not have much to do for the snacks but just pack up what they selected. If you are camping with all ages of children make sure to bring along snacks that everyone will enjoy. It's important to maintain equal attention between all the kids attending your outing so when deciding on refreshments keep in mind the needs of everyone attending.

  15. It wouldn't hurt to have more than one tent
  16. Kids will always love to play with a tent, even if it is one they have slept in for the last couple of nights. Having more than one tent at your campsite will also help you organize kids during meals and gather up when they are ready to say goodnight. If you do not want to bring multiple tents that are large enough be creative and set up more than one.

    Having kids staying in their own tent will not only help you but them. Making sure each child has a tent to themselves will give them the opportunity to create their own privacy, especially if they are cramped in a two person tent with another sibling. It will also allow parents or adult leaders to get more rest without having the worry about sleeping next to an overactive youngster.

    Tips to consider when letting kids stay in their own tent
    • If you're a heavy sleeper, more than one tent might not be for you. If you're that type of sleeper, you might want to have your kids close just in case something happens that should wake you up.
    • Make sure your kids know the rules about the tent before you leave them alone in it. Do not let any kid stay in a tent by themselves at nighttime if they don't get along with other kids very well. Their nerves might be frayed from being around others all day, so give them some time to cool down after dinner before letting them go off into their tent.
    • Make sure your kids gets fall asleep before you do. You don't want to fall asleep before them. It's a recipe for disaster to let the kids fall asleep after you do. You do not want them to go wandering off to the bathroom and get lost in the woods. When this happens, it can take a long time for them to find their way back into camp. Also, they might not make it back at all if your group is spread out across a large area or if night has really fallen by the time you discover they're missing.
    Tips for when you are camping
    • Never let your kids roam freely. You should teach them to call for you if they need help. It's not always necessary to go running to their aid every time they cry out, but it's important that they feel comfortable calling for you rather than relying on other campmates at all times.
    • Campfires are fun and can be educational, but children should be kept away from them. The young ones in particular are attracted to the fire and they might inadvertently cause a forest fire simply by getting too close to it or not respecting its power.
    • It's usually best for parents to set an example with their own behavior so that kids can learn how to act around others while camping out. Act the same way you normally would at home while you're camping. This doesn't mean you have to speak softly or sit quietly; just remember that other people are sleeping nearby, so try not to do anything that will wake up those around you and keep everything at a reasonable volume level throughout the day. Also keep in mind everyone else is there for fun as well.
    • If your kids are at the age where they still believe in monsters they will feel better if you leave a light on or sleep with them for a few nights. Explain to them that it's just like camping at home, but there might be an animal or two outside.
    • If your children act up around other campers then explain why the behavior is inappropriate and give them alternate ways of acting out their energy to let off steam. For example, if your child wants to jump in puddles when it rains, explain that puddling is great fun, but try jumping in leaves instead because it isn't as disruptive to those around you and other people may be trying to sleep.
    • Let your children bring along some familiar toys so that they will feel at home at the campground. Be sure to pack some extra batteries for those toys as well, especially if your child is old enough to roam around without you. Kids always seem to run out of power just when they get a little too far away from their parents' tents.
    • If your kids are young (under about four), try not to bring along anything with wheels that can go rolling into the fire or down a hillside. Tricycle type bikes and miniature motorized toys should probably stay at home while camping. Also avoid bringing any CDs or tapes because many campsites do not have stereos available. Campfires and individual radios may be the only entertainment for miles.
    • Bring plenty of small personal items like soap, tooth brushes, hair nets and towels. If you are camping for two or more nights in a row use the same towel, wash it out at night and hang it up to dry each day. Also bring some extra flashlights. Kids lose them really easily.
    • You may want to bring along some coloring books or crayons if you know there won't be much else around for the kids to do.
    • Make sure that you have adequate first aid materials—lint, bandages, ointment, antiseptic cream, tape and scissors, all stored in a waterproof container.

Camping with kids is a great way to spend quality time outdoors, teaching your children about the natural world while you have fun together. There's no need to worry if you don't know where to start; we're here to help! When packing up all of your supplies, be sure not to forget bug spray and sunscreen, both can spare your family from an uncomfortable night in the wilderness. And finally, remember that sometimes there might just be too much going on at home or work so plan accordingly when considering how long you want camp out each day. We hope these suggestions were helpful! Now go outside and enjoy nature!

Kid-Friendly hikes in the U.S

Kid friendly hikes located in the U.S.


About Author:

image of Kevin Pommells

Hi, I'm Kevin Pommells, a lover of camping and the great outdoors as everyone says nowadays. I'm also a passionate soccer fan and the proud owner of, a website dedicated to helping campers and outdoor enthusiasts make the most of their adventures. With years of experience exploring the wilderness and a deep love for the sport of soccer, I'm always looking for new ways to combine my two passions and share my knowledge with others. Follow me for tips, tricks, and insights on all things camping and outdoor recreation.

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