The Best Reasons to Take Kids Camping

The Best Reasons to Take Kids Camping

 

I took my toddler on her first camping trip, last weekend.

It also happened to be a family festival event, over four days.

To say it’s taken me a few days to recover is being completely honest!

It’s not that my daughter was too demanding during our little camping break, but rather that for the first time this year and many months since last year, have I had to plan and pack and get organized for something we’ve never experienced together. So the nerves were already there beforehand.

Not knowing what to expect from a festival was the least of my worries since I’d been to plenty before with friends but this was all new territory — as a single mother going to a campsite during a family festival, not knowing anyone besides an almost-four-year-old — was a little daunting.

It sure did put me out of my comfort zone and while I often enjoy challenges like this, it simply helps to view them as new adventures in life.

The recovery this week has mostly been physical and from fatigue due to not enough sleep in total. (I’ve never been one to sleep deeply next to any child.)

A deflated air mattress on the last night, the cold creeping in the wee hours of the mornings, and the noise in the distance reminded me at the time just how much alcohol must’ve previously made me oblivious to such things.

Either that or I had so much fun I’m hanging onto the good memories instead. I suspect the latter, so please don’t let such reasons put you off from a memorable feat with your child or children.

There are always lessons learned and ways to improve such niggles including not letting a kid play with kebab sticks on the mattress ever again, packing thermal clothing and more blankets, as well as using earplugs or taking headphones to have more calming music in your ears when you want to sleep.

Camping with kids is something special which every family should try, at least once. And as with anything, the more you do it, the better it becomes.

Sense of adventure

Allowing the kids to be involved in the process of the whole trip will make it that much more interesting for them from start to finish.

Ten ideas to help them get excited can be:

  • adding or ticking off items from the packing list,
  • finding a torch, checking the batteries,
  • letting them pack their own basics; shoes, sunhat, sunglasses,
  • helping them buy necessities,
  • choosing a camping spot together,
  • setting up the tent, the kitchen, the play area,
  • making hot chocolate together,
  • teaching them about a gas cooker or fires and safety,
  • raising awareness regarding litter and eco-toilets,
  • blowing up the air mattress and arranging their sleeping space.

 

All of the above can be suggested without sounding forceful or getting annoyed when they don’t want to participate and when they do, praising is compulsory!

Making the smallest task enjoyable, amusing, or silly is key so they’ll have no issue with wanting to do it all over, again and again.

Developing mindfulness

There’s the fresh air, grounding grass or sands to walk barefoot on, minimalistic survival needs, the sound of animals large and small, peaceful trees, the crispy morning breezes, mystical meanders, sultry sunsets, and the alarm-free realizations of morning calm within to appreciate, at the very least.

Prompting children to pay attention to all of the above develops instinctive abilities to suss their surroundings, wherever they may wander in the future.

Exploring nature

This goes hand in hand with the above but when kids are allowed to roam freely, run and feel independent their confidence and immune are boosted tenfold.

And being a single parent with an only child meant that it got me off my feet chasing each other and playing hide and seek among tents, to only fall onto the soft grass with laughter.

Even if it only lasted five minutes, the joy clearly rippled throughout the hours that followed. An unmistakable bond strengthened with every last eccentric memory made.

Screen-free entertainment

We all need screens to rescue our kids, or rescue us from our kids now and then! But we also know how little screens help in enhancing any child’s imagination or social skills.

Therefore allowing them to be fully immersed in an outdoor environment calls for creative thinking, and encourages their ability to act playfully, imaginatively, and with attentive rationality.

Leave the screens behind and be surprised at what natural games your kids may come up with, even if a little input from you is necessary at first.

Budget-friendly

Besides the initial outlay of buying a decent tent as well as the cost of the campsite per night, there’s not too much else to buy that’s expensive which you may not already have lying around the house.

I’ve had the same tent for four years so far and it’s only a three-person size. This suits us but if I had the money to splash out I’d buy one that has a shade canopy extension on the outside. Shade is definitely welcomed during a hot day!

Of course, there was the cost of driving there and back as well as extra snacks and treats but again, these come up next to nothing if you compare it to flight prices or staying in a hotel where you can’t cook.

With camping, one can save a lot of money on meals by making it all yourself. For breakfast, we had our usual cereals (with long-life carton oat drinks) and apples or bananas, for lunch we had wraps with almond butter and mini cucumbers and tomatoes.

For dinner we had noodles and before bed hot chocolates, all made on the portable gas cooker. Of course, we had crisps, crackers, sweets, and juice cartons in between exploring and relaxing too.

There are so many other things you could make or take to make your camping experience incredibly luxurious but I was aware of being the only one to carry it all, so I had to bear that in mind. The outdoor trolley was a life-saving investment though!

Strengthening connections

By merging a unique experience over a few nights, underneath the stars, the bond between you and your children will only get stronger.

Leaving attitudes and expectations at home and devoting oneself to staying calm and focused on being quieter whilst outdoors should be the intention with camping.

Being in nature, out and about, is one super-easy way to do that with children because let’s face it, we are all more relaxed when outside in the woods, countryside, mountains, or garden.

Relationships between parents and children are basically reliant on real love.

And often, it’s so easy to develop that love even further just by sharing fun ideas, responsibilities, physical strengths, and silly stories.

But also, by connecting the dots to create a great getaway, super surprise, roaring road trip, mega mini-holiday, fabulous festival feeling, and cool camping celebration — together.

©
Stacey B
2022

This post was previously published on medium.com.

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Photo credit: iStockPhoto.com

 

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