I’m super happy to have a guest post from Harris Norman this week. He’s an explorer, outdoorsman and writer at the website Pro Survivalist. At that website, you can get all sorts of expert-level tips on how to survive in the outdoors.
Camping with kids is not always an easy feat, but that doesn’t mean that the fact you have kids should prevent you from doing so as often as you’d like. It takes quite a bit of additional preparation and diligence, but if you play your cards right you’ll find that it can be just as fun as without them, if not more so.
Plus, the fact remains that children should be exposed to nature as early as possible, as numerous studies have shown the benefits of going outdoors, including for mental development. In this post, I want to talk about a few ways that you can make this whole process a lot easier for you and your spouse, so listen up!
1. Go Disposable
Now, I’m all for protecting the environment, but when you have two or more small children to look after, it’s really a good idea to have some disposables on hand. I’m talking garbage bags, tissues, diapers and the like. I am in no way encouraging that you leave your disposables behind, but they’re really handy to have nonetheless.
2. Extra Clothes
A single pair of clothes per kid is never enough for camping, even if it’s just for a day – end of story. The moment a flash thunderstorm hits and you’re all soaked to the bone and you don’t have anything your kids can change into, that’s the moment when the trip ends. Please don’t allow yourself to get into this kind of situation and pack spare clothes, and you’ll save yourself a lot of potential grief.
3. Fire Rules
Indeed it does, fire can be a great help and even a necessity when camping in the wilderness, but in this case I’m referring to a specific set of rules about behaving around a fire you must teach your kids before the camping trip. This means no chasing each other around the fire and no roughhousing, and staying as far away from it as possible if there are no adults present.
4. First Aid is a Must
Accidents happen, and you need to be prepared for them. Kids are way more active and way less cautious than adults, so as long as they are having fun there’s a chance that they will get hurt as well. Of course, you should do your best to make sure this doesn’t happen, but you also need to be ready in case it does. Make a first aid kit filled with alcohol, bandages, band aids, antibiotics, painkillers and anything else you think you might need, and be prepared to use it if need be.
5. Pack a Fan
If there’s an ultimate truth in the universe, it is that kids get cranky when they’re hot. Really cranky. It’s a really good idea to get one of those little, battery-powered camping fans to make sure they can keep themselves cool, otherwise you aren’t going to have much of a camping trip.
6. Get Them Involved
The point of taking your children camping in the first place is for them to learn something, so don’t make them sit on the sidelines and do absolutely nothing. They’ll get bored, and you’ll have a lot of work on your hands, so feel free to get them involved with some of the easier tasks, like gathering firewood or fetching whatever you need from the car, for example.
7. Familiar Recipes
The one thing you do not want to do on your first camping trip with children is experiment with food. Instead, get something that you’re sure your kids are going to want to eat, and make sure to bring enough of it.
8. Be Prepared to Leave Early
No matter how well prepared you are, you need to be aware of the fact that your kids might not like their first camping trip all that much. They might love it, but if you find yourself in a situation where all of them are complaining about the heat, bugs and what not, that’s when you know that it might be time to cut the trip short. This is no big deal, really, and it’s very normal for a child to behave this way, so just don’t be stubborn about it and you’ll save both yourself and your kids a lot of unnecessary frustration.
9. Teach Camping Etiquette
If you’re sharing the camping ground with other people, make sure that you let your kids know how they should behave. This means teaching them not to run right through someone else’s camp and knock everything over, being mindful when playing catch and riding their bikes and picking up any garbage they might have left behind. The best time to teach your kids these things is when they’re really young, which is why it’s a great idea to let them experience this as early as possible.
10. Let Them Get Dirty
Finally, just let your kids be kids. It’s alright if they get a little dirty and wet, as long as the weather is nice they’ll dry off soon enough. Kids have way more energy than adults do, and they need to have a way to expend it, and camping is the perfect opportunity for them to do so. So don’t be an overprotective parent that gets the hand disinfectant out every time their kid touches a bit of dirt – it’s really not the end of the world and there are actually scientific benefits of getting dirty. So just relax, enjoy yourself, and let your kids do the same!
Healthy living and wellbeing have always been Harris’s main occupation. He’s a certified fitness instructor and in the last ten years, he’s taken up hiking and trekking as a way of staying in shape and keeping his inner peace. He shares his experiences and advice on http://www.prosurvivalist.com/ as one of its revered writers.