Here is a list of my top 10 camping tips for taking your family outdoors from keeping it simple, packing, food, kids helping at camp through to activities and safety.
TOP 10 TIPS FOR CAMPING WITH KIDS
1. Simplicity – Make camping easy and don’t over pack as the more you take, the more you have to fit in the car. Generally the simpler your camping kit is, the easier it is to set up and pack up. Remember to dry and clean any damp or dirty equipment when you get home.
2. Plan – Get your kids involved in working out where to camp, the activities you want to do, the food shopping and what meals you might like to eat. Planning and generating the excitement of a trip is half the fun plus kids always like being involved in the decisions (even if you have to influence the outcome).
3. Arrive early – Try to get to your campsite before dark. That way you can see where to put up your tent, if there are branches overhead and it makes it much easier to get your camp established and kids fed before it gets too late.
4. Play – Let kids enjoy the magic of being outdoors and use their imagination and create their own games, interact and explore the outdoor environment. Embrace the dirt - how grimy the kids get can often be an indicator of how much fun they are having (leave good clothes at home).
5. Bedding – Make sure you have enough blankets/sleeping bags to keep warm at night particularly if you are winter camping. If you are using an air mattress, don’t forget the pump and patches in case you get a hole.
6. Torches – We all need to be able to see at night and head torches are perfect as you can keep your hands free but remember to bring spare batteries. If you have a bright torch, bring it, as there is nothing better than going for nature walks at night, spotting animals.
7. Activities – Bring a book, drawing material, or small game the kids can do in their tent in case they want some quiet time or if the weather is inclement. Limit them to only one or two as the less they have, the more likely they are to play outside.
8. Food – I like to keep it easy, as I would rather spend time with the kids rather than cooking. I often make extra curry or pasta sauce, freeze it and use it when I go camping for a quick and easy meal.
9. Helpers – Kids (even three-year-olds) can help whether it is collecting sticks for firewood, banging in tent pegs, carting water or doing dishes. It is good for them to be responsible and help out and I find my boys are much better at when we go camping than they are at home. They also know that if they help out, we will take them camping more often.
10. Safety – Pack your first aid kit and make sure you have plenty of insect repellent, antiseptic cream, stop itch, band-aids, and panadol or nurofen. Think about where you set up camp, if you have young children, keep a distance from water or high ridges and don’t pitch your tent under tree branches or on top of ant nests.