Camping with the Kids – How You Need to Prepare to Stay Sane
Camping with kids can be amazing but let’s face it, it can be a disaster if you don’t plan properly. Having an RV definitely helps, but for both kinds of camping there are some things you should do to prepare. For one thing, you’ve got to make sure to bring food they will eat and somehow coax them into falling asleep despite being in a dark and strange place. Kids also tend to get whiny if they are bored, so if there’s a downpour, you’re in for it if you don’t have some alternative activities in mind.
Generally speaking, the only difference when you camp with the little ones is there’s just lots more gear, more food and more dirt. And you need to plan for the worst case scenario – always! With all that said, there’s nothing more rewarding than being out in nature with a set of fresh eyes ready to take in new and unfamiliar surroundings. A camping trip can be a teaching and bonding experience for the entire family.
So, don’t fret! If you’re worried about your upcoming adventure being too chaotic, just following our tips and your camping trip is sure to a huge success full of some pretty incredible memories.
Practice with the Little Ones
Not all kids get excited about camping, especially not if they’ve never done it before or if they are addicted to their devices and boo everything having to do with nature. You can get them to look forward to an upcoming trip by engaging them in related activities and having them get involved in prepping for the trip. As for the babes who are afraid of the dark, this is a good opportunity to get them to shake off their phobia. Try the following:
- Camp out in a tent in the backyard: It’ll be dark here too, but very close to the safety and familiarity of your home. Bring portable nightlights, glow sticks, glow-in-the-dark bubbles and kid lamps so they see that it’s not so bad. Make this fun, S’mores and all!
- Get them involved in prepping: Show them the checklists and have them mark each item off after it’s taken care of. Take them with you as you scan the RV to make sure everything’s in order. Ask them what they want to eat at the campfire and take them food shopping with you.
- Buy camping picture books and read to them every night, leaving room for them to raise any questions or concerns they may have.
Don’t Forget the Checklists
Kids are much harder to pack for than adults because they need more things. Pajamas, sun hats, sweaters for night time, baby food, portable high chairs, binkys, diapers, and their tiny backpacks. Don’t wait until the last minute to pack these things, and having a camping checklist will ensure you don’t forget anything.
- Have a checklist for the kids and one for the adults. Everyone has different needs.
- Have the kids check off their own items after packing.
- Double-check the lists before leaving (especially the kids’ list).
Pack a Crib
If you have a baby or a toddler, it’s a good idea to bring along a portable crib, to keep you sane more than anything. While you’re setting up the campfire or doing chores around the RV, putting the little one away in a crib is probably the safest thing to do. It’ll also act as a safe place if they get a little anxious in their new surroundings. If you use a different crib than the portable one at home, set it up for a few days before the big trip so your baby or toddler begins to get acquainted with it.
Pack a Portable High Chair
Portable high chairs are lightweight and they fold away nicely. They will also take a lot of stress off mom who won’t have to hold baby the entire time during meals. Plus, if you forget the portable crib, this is another safe zone where baby can stay put until you’re done with your chores. This is definitely one of those must-bring items on your checklist.
Usually, kids will immediately begin picking up rocks, chasing insects and playing with pinecones once you reach camp, but there may be times when your mini-me is just plain bored, especially when it comes time to just relax at the campsite. If it’s raining, forget it! Always bring along two sets of entertainment: one for sunny days and one for rainy ones. The following items are sure to keep your kids entertained for hours:
- Playing cards (Go Fish, Hearts, War, etc.)
- Card games (Snap, Spoons, Crazy Eights, etc.)
- Travel-sized games (dominoes, checkers, backgammon, Scrabble,)
- Frisbees, balls (soccer, football), hacky sack, Whiffle ball and bat
- Small trucks and cars
- Sand toys
- Kids’ version of burners and Swiss army knives (keep them busy while you’re doing the dangerous work yourself)
- Lastly, an iPad or laptop to watch movies on if you don’t have a television in your RV (if it rains, you’ll be glad you brought it).
Create a Fun Scavenger Hunt Checklist with Visuals
Take a regular old shopping bag with handles and draw the various things that are easily (or not so easily) found at a campsite on the bag along with the names of the items. This nature-focused scavenger hunt will keep the most bored kid engaged. Soon, they’ll be running around searching for everything from pinecones and bottle caps to wildflowers and berries.
Create Visual Journals of the Trip
Bring along nature journals along with pencils, colored pencils, crayons, and markers. Take breaks on your hike and sit and draw what you see (yes, this isn’t just for kids). You can even use a field guide app on your phone to identify flora and fauna. Teach (and learn) something new!
Stock the First-Aid Kit
Your First-Aid kit should have bug-bite remedies, ibuprofen, hydrogen peroxide and lots of Band-aids. Also, bring a pair of tweezers and a magnifying glass in case your child gets splinters or ticks. You’ll of course want to wear some bug and tick repellent before you wander off, but just in case, you’ll want to have those helpful tweezers handy.
Remember to pack some Itch Stopping Spray. Benadryl makes a very effective one. Another nifty trick is to put Bounce Dryer Sheets in your kids’ pockets. People used to say this was a myth but science has proven that it works.
Teach Your Child Boundaries Right Away
An excited child will begin exploring camp right away – and that’s a good thing. But you have to establish rules about not wandering beyond specified points right away. Don’t wait until you are fretting and can’t find the little one. When you arrive at the campsite take a tour of your camping area and establish rules firmly. Tell your child to never wandering off alone. Bring a whistle for kids to wear around their necks in case you all get separated too.
Don’t Forget the Duct Tape
Duct tape should always be in an RV. Lots of it, too. This stuff can cover a child’s heel from a pinching in hiking boot. It can patch a tent, a sneaker, or a canoe. It can also create a makeshift cast for an injured finger that needs to be immobilized.
The information in this article was obtained from various sources. This content is offered for educational purposes only and does not represent contractual agreements, nor is it intended to replace manuals or instructions provided by the manufacturer or the advice of a qualified professional. The definitions, terms and coverage in a given policy may be different than those suggested here and such policy will be governed by the language contained therein. No warranty or appropriateness for a specific purpose is expressed or implied.