Fellow blogger, Betty, over at Chambers on the Road gave me the idea to write a post about 10 Awesome Camping Activities for Kids last season (2021). Then fellow blogger, LR, over at Returning to Paradise reminded me that I’d missed a couple great ideas so here’s part 2, with 8 more ideas for your next camping adventure with kiddos.
In our family history, we’ve gone from rare overnight camping once a year in a pop-up trailer, to living in a 35ft class A Winnebago (Blaze) for 9 months, to camping a few nights about once a month in a 24 ft class C Minnie Winnie (Sparky), to our current 35ft travel trailer (the trailer). Eventually, we’ll figure out what we’re doing! 🤪
Regardless of your camping situation, here are 8 more of my top tips for camping with kids. Be sure to check out 10 Awesome Camping Activities for Kids to see my other tips.
1. Comfy clothes are pajamas – When we camp, our kids wear one outfit of comfy clothes per 24 hrs (unless they get super wet or super dirty). They change into clean clothes at bedtime, sleep in them, and then continue wearing the same clothes until bedtime the next night. They wear t-shirts and athletic pants (boys) or leggings (girl). This system saves space, laundry and time.
2. Bring Extra Socks – Although the kiddos wear one set of clothes per 24 hrs they change their socks frequently! Socks get dirty and wet pretty often in the great outdoors.
3. Dress for the Weather – I don’t know about your kiddos, but my kiddos seem to operate with a different internal temperature gage than I do, so it’s extra important to plan ahead and bring extra layers. Luckily, my better half is almost always on top of this.
4. Find Kid Friendly Hikes – Once again, our first stop at a Visitor Center (when available), provides us with access to a knowledgeable ranger who is always happy to offer hiking suggestions for our age group. You can also find trail information at websites like AllTrails.com.
5. Print Some Scavenger Hunts – A quick Google search will find these for you, you can create your own, or you can check out some of my faves in the links below.
6. Give the Kids a Part in Decision Making – For example, on our trip to Death Valley National Park last March all 5 of us found a friendly park ranger and asked for her recommendations about what to do. After reviewing all of the options we asked the 3 kids what their top choice was. The kids all agreed (which very rarely happens) that the top destinations in Death Valley National Park were Ubehebe Crater and Mesquite Sand Dunes. After getting the kids input, my wonderful husband and I took over, got out the maps, and decided when those two spots would fit best into our 2 and 1/2 days at the park. It’s important for the kiddos to feel like they have a voice and also like they are not responsible for the whole shebang.
7. Don’t Over-plan and Don’t Over-schedule – We are resourceful homeschoolers and we try and approach our camping adventures with a little bit of planning and a whole lot of flexibility. It’s been truly amazing for me to learn how much fun you can have when you just show up and see what’s going on. Before the 2018 Paradise Camp Fire I was a “super-planner”. I’d plan out every aspect of every outing ahead of time. From what outfits to wear on which days, to which restaurants to eat at at what time of the day to how long we’d spend a certain location. When we evacuated our home, I was suddenly unable to plan anything. The executive functions of my brain shut down and I entered the primal fight/flight/freeze zone. My brain remained in that zone for months and even after my ability to consider options and make decisions returned my energy to do so did not. Even today, over 3 years later, my brain doesn’t work the same way it used to. Maybe that isn’t a bad thing! Through that tragic experience I learned that you don’t always have to have a perfect plan in place and even if you do, it might not work out anyway! I challenge you to try it. Pick a place, make a reservation (or don’t), show up and see what happens.
8. Adopt an Adventure Mindset – Camping with kiddos is an adventure and I can almost guarantee you that things will not always go according to plan. with an adventure mindset it is difficult to get upset when things don’t go the way you thought they would. For example, instead of being angry that we couldn’t get gas when we were trying to leave Death Valley National Park we were grateful for the opportunity to stargaze another night. When it rained our last night camping in Yellowstone National Park we went out for pizza, played games, and watched a movie. Of course, this is easier said than done and we don’t always have our best adventure mindset when we encounter mishaps, snafus, kerfuffles, and complications while camping.
Bonus Tip: Get a free National Park Pass if you’re planning to visit a U.S. National Park with a 4th grader. Visit Every Kid Outdoors to get your pass!
🏕 Happy camping season 2022 friends!
🏕 What are your favorite family-friendly camping activities, books, games or movies?