A few weeks ago we took our young family camping for the first time. I have been out before with my son but this was my 3 year old daughter's first camping experience. There were some things I thought we did well and some things we will probably do differently next time. Here are a few quick tips.
Don't Over Pack
Perhaps it is habit formed over time as a parent but we have a tendency to way over pack when we travel with kids. Part of the joy of camping and being outdoors is the lack of traditional entertainment and the home amenities. For things like clothing, entertainment, etc just keep it simple. A spare pair of socks and an extra jacket aren't a bad idea but generally just stick with the minimum.
Don't Forget the Bug Repellent & Sunblock
Roughing it is important but those children have natural fear of some bugs and a few nasty bites can make the trip a lot less enjoyable. A sun burn would be no less frustrating and unfortunate in ruining your camping trip. I recommend Bull Frog Mosquito Coast Spray Sunblock with Insect Repellent.
You Will Probably Need the First Aid Kit
Bumps, scrapes, and bruises are inevitable. Be prepared and make the kids wear pants instead of shorts. Here is a compact but solid first aid kit you could easily put in a backpack. If you drive direct to the campsite make sure you have a more complete kit in the car.
Teach Proper Skills and Habits
Be a good example and teach your children about the best practices, safety, and habits of camping. Teach them about no trace camping and the importance of leaving the campsite even cleaner than you found it. Teach children about the potential safety concerns of fire and the risk of forest fires. Give each child a whistle and talk about what they should do if they are lost. Discuss weather concerns like rain and lighting. Review the danger of hatchets, knives, and other sharp blades they could find at the campsite.
Establish Your Own Family Camping Traditions
What are the activities you will always do together. Think back on your own childhood and consider the things you loved most about camping. Here is a short list of potential activities.
- Card Games
- Nature Walks and Hikes
- Tell stories
- Roast marshmellows
- Make Smores
- Football toss
- Sing Songs
- Star Gazing