A great way to get babies and young children even more connected with nature is to take them on a camping trip. In fact, there is no experience that will put you more up close and personal with the natural world than camping.
This is an opportunity to go out and live amongst the trees and the earth for a couple of days, or maybe even a little bit longer if you think your family is up for a challenge. Camping has a ton of benefits.
It’s good for getting in tune with nature as mentioned, but it’s also an active experience, it gets you out in the fresh air, it’s good for fighting of stress, getting a good sleep and it also gives you an opportunity to do some deep thought while away from the noise and bustle of daily life.
With the rise of technology, the desire to participate in things like camping does seem to be decreasing among young people, which is why it’s a good idea to try and get your kids used to the idea from an early age.
Going on a family camping trip can be a difficult thing to do in a way that maximises the enjoyment and benefits, especially if you’re not particularly experienced. Let’s take a look at some family-friendly tips for outdoor camping:
Depending on what country you’re camping in, you will have a varying amount of locations to choose from as the site of your trip. If you are in the United States, there are basically thousands of spots for you to choose from.
When it comes to taking your family with you though, you should probably be a bit more selective in terms of choosing the location. There are a few things that you need to watch out for that people with more experience don’t need to worry about.
You should aim for a place that isn’t too remote and that will have several others likely camping nearby in case you need help. Try to find an area that’s got a more level terrain, especially if you want to do some hiking. Your kids won’t be able to hack a mountainside hike so well.
And also keep in mind that some areas are more susceptible to storms, even in the warmer months and you should make a point of avoiding those too. And then there’s dangerous wildlife to think about.
Even with all that in mind, you still have a lot of options so don’t worry about your selection being limited by sticking to a few location-based rules.
You’re not going to go out into the wilderness empty-handed. In fact, you’re going to need to bring so much stuff with you that you’ll start to wonder if the trip is worth the weight of the packs you’re carrying.
But trust me it is, especially if you are careful to only bring essentials and to seek out the stuff that is designed to save space. There is a lot of stuff to remember. You need to think about tents, sleeping bags, clothes, food, fuel, bug spray, tools, water and loads of other stuff.
You’ll be able to find a lot of this equipment in the form of stuff that was specifically designed for camping and will as such, be more lightweight and easier to carry. You might also be tempted to bring more clothes than necessary, or other frivolous items and this is only going to weigh you down.
You should plan ahead with a big checklist of everything that is important. This will help you to remember things and if you stick to it you won’t go overboard.
Camping does come with some potential risks and these are even more of a problem when you’ve got your kids with you. Young children are quite susceptible to injury and more likely to react emotionally when things go wrong so you have to be careful to avoid such an eventuality.
First off, think about the terrain. As we mentioned before, it’s better for families to aim for flatter terrains to decrease exertion, or the possibility of falling. Less rocky hikes will also mean that if one does fall, the resulting injuries won’t be as severe.
Then you also need to think about wild animals. Try to stay away from areas where bears, snakes and mountain lions are common. Also, your kids might be tempted to eat random berries or plants they spot on a trail and that can be dangerous too. Make sure you know which plants to avoid.
The third, but equally important thing is possible breakdown. Car camping is usually the first choice for families with kids as you already possess a vehicle that can take all of your family members. In addition to that, it doesn’t require additional investments. But, to be on the safe side, make sure to perform a maintenance check before the trip. It won’t hurt to have an extended warranty or any other form of security in case something unexpected happens. Do an extensive research and compare all of the pros and cons of having it, in order to have a piece of mind.
So if an injury of some kind does happen, the most important thing to do is stay calm. If you panic, then your kids will panic too and that will make everything worse. Make sure you are as prepared for emergencies as possible.
Bring along a well-stocked first aid kit and be familiar with how to deal with the most likely injuries such as cuts, bites and broken bones. Know where you are at all times. Have a map, GPS tracker, compass or whatever you need to find your way back to civilization.
Contact emergency services straight away, and if you don’t have service, move around until you do. And also, it might be a good idea to bring a flare gun with you, which might help you alert local rangers.
There’s a good chance this won’t be a huge issue for you but it is something that you need to keep in mind. When you’ve decided on a place to camp, be sure to check online with the U.S Forest service or specific state laws in terms of where you can camp.
Some places will be completely forbidden, and some will be forbidden at specific times of the year, but there will also be some for which you need to get a permit before you can camp there. The likelihood is that you won’t need any of this stuff but just do the research so you don’t end up camping illegally.
Hopefully, your kids will just enjoy the experience of getting to explore the wilderness, sleep under the stars and tell some stories around the fire, but you never know with kids. They get bored easily and might have a problem with cord cutting because they will not be able to watch their favorite cartoons.
And you don’t want to be stuck in the wild with a bored child. You should have a good idea of what you want to do every day in terms of exploration, and also have some activities or games in mind for when you’re relaxing at the site.
In addition to typical camping activities such as cooking, fishing and telling stories, you can also bring a board game or two if they don’t take up much space. And books are always good. If your kid doesn’t like reading, puzzle books or coloring books would suffice too.
Sometimes things just don’t go as planned. You might arrive where you planned on camping to find that it’s blocked off for some reason or another, or you might find yourself faced with a storm that’s going to last for several days and ruin the whole trip.
The thing is, if you’ve been telling your kids about this camping trip for weeks and they’re excited, this is going to be disappointing for them. It’s worth having a backup plan, maybe a second campsite if the first is inaccessible or even an entirely different kind of trip if the weather makes camping impossible.
So there’s an awful lot for you to think about and there are a lot of things you need to prepare for, but it’s all worth it. Not only will family camping trips be fun for your kids, but they will also help them develop a love for nature and being outdoors.