Embrace the Great Outdoors this Summer and Explore the Benefits of Camping with Young Children
As parents, we want to provide our children with meaningful experiences that help them grow and create lasting memories. Camping is an activity that can offer all these things. It promotes a connection with nature and strengthens family bonds. In this blog, we will explore the benefits of camping with young children, provide some valuable tips for a successful trip, suggest alternative options for hesitant parents, and offer fun indoor activities for hot weather or when camping is not an option.
Benefits of Camping with Young Children
Bonding and Family Time
Camping is an excellent way for families to take a break from technology and uniquely enjoy each other's company. Spending time in nature together can create close connections, improve communication, and lead to cherished memories.
Camping is a great way to introduce young children to the beauty and marvels of nature. By learning about plants, animals, and ecosystems, individuals can develop a greater appreciation for the environment and cultivate a sense of responsibility towards preserving it.
Physical Activity and Exploration
Participating in outdoor activities such as hiking, swimming, and exploring nature trails can improve physical fitness, coordination and foster a passion for an active way of life. Encourage your children to embrace their curiosity and sense of adventure.
Problem-solving and Resilience
Camping presents various challenges, allowing children to develop problem-solving skills, adaptability, and resilience. You can boost their confidence and self-reliance by encouraging them to participate in activities such as setting tents or building a campfire.
Tips and Tricks for a Successful Camping Trip
The best activities are those that are organised well ahead of time. Research the camping location, facilities, and weather conditions. Make a checklist of essential items such as camping gear, clothing, first aid supplies, and food.
Involve your child in the preparations
Let your child be part of the planning process. Involve them in packing their clothes, selecting camping equipment, and discussing the activities they'd like to do during the trip. This sense of involvement boosts their excitement and engagement.
Start with Short Trips
If it's your child's first camping experience, consider starting with shorter trips to nearby locations. Shorter trips allow for a gradual adaptation to the camping routine and help build confidence.
Pack Entertainment and Comfort Items
Bring books, board games, and other entertainment options suitable for the camping environment. Also, pack comfort items like their favourite blanket or stuffed animal to create a sense of familiarity.
Plan fun activities ahead
If you think you might get bored in the outdoors, think again. These activities will keep your child engaged, entertained, and connected to the wonders of nature during your camping trip. Remember to adjust the activities based on the age and abilities of your child, and always prioritise their safety and supervision while participating in outdoor activities.
- Nature Exploration
Encourage your child to explore and observe the natural surroundings. Let them collect leaves, rocks, or pinecones to create a nature-inspired art project later. Teach them about different plants, animals, and insects they encounter. Pack a little magnifying glass to observe. If you're unsure, you can use your phone to identify the plants and animals around you, helping you to give accurate information to your child.
- Scavenger Hunt
Create a scavenger hunt tailored to the camping environment. Give children a list of items to find, such as specific types of leaves, flowers, or animal tracks. This activity adds an element of adventure and helps them learn about their surroundings.
- Campfire Stories and Songs
Gather around the campfire and tell stories or sing songs. Choose age-appropriate tales or make up your own stories that incorporate elements of the camping trip. Singing campfire songs is always a hit and adds to the cosy ambience.
Clear nights at the campsite offer an excellent opportunity for stargazing. Teach children about different constellations and point out notable stars and planets. Consider bringing a stargazing app or book to enhance the learning experience.
- Outdoor Games
Enjoy traditional outdoor games perfect for camping, such as tag, hide-and-seek, capture the flag, Frisbee, or catch. These games encourage physical exercise and bring families closer together.
- Nature Crafts
Engage children in simple nature-themed crafts using materials they find around the campsite. They can create leaf rubbings, make pinecone bird feeders, or decorate rocks with paint or markers. These crafts foster creativity and a connection to the natural world.
If you're camping near a body of water with fishing opportunities, teach your child the basics of fishing. Show them how to cast a line and reel in a catch (if allowed and safe). Fishing can be a calming and enjoyable activity for children but always observe the appropriate safety requirements.
- Bike Riding or Hiking
Take advantage of the scenic trails and paths near your campsite. If your child is old enough, go for a family bike ride or hike. Ensure the trails suit their abilities and offer opportunities for exploration and discovery.
- Campfire Cooking
Involve children in simple campfire cooking activities. Let them roast marshmallows and make smores or help prepare simple meals like hot dogs on a stick. This teaches them basic cooking skills and adds to the camping experience. Remember to observe all safety requirements around campfires with children.
- Outdoor Photography
Encourage your child to document their camping adventures by giving them a disposable or supervised digital camera. Encourage them to take pictures of their favourite moments, scenery, or interesting finds to promote creativity and allow them to capture their experiences. After the trip, these photos can be used for a scrapbooking activity, enabling your child to enjoy understanding and discussing past events.
Staying Safe Outdoors
Camping with young children can seem daunting and may put you off if you're worried about safety. Consider camping with family or friends with more knowledge and experience to help you start your camping journey. Nevertheless, consider the essential safety aspects mentioned here and always research further with a camping expert.
Ensure your child is protected from the sun's harmful rays by applying sunscreen, wearing hats and sunglasses, and seeking shade during the day's hottest hours.
Apply insect repellent and dress children appropriately to protect against insect bites. Be mindful of ticks, especially in wooded areas, and perform regular tick checks.
First Aid kits
Ensure your first aid kit is fully equipped for camping with children. Check with your local pharmacy for all the supplies for your camping needs. An idea of what to pack may include:
- Adhesive Bandages (various sizes and shapes)
- Sterile Gauze Pads and Adhesive Tape
- Antiseptic Wipes or Solution for wound cleaning
- Hydrocortisone Cream or ointment for insect bites or rashes
- Antihistamine (liquid or chewable tablets) for allergic reactions
- Tweezers (for splinter or tick removal)
- Small Scissors
- Disposable Gloves
- Instant Cold Packs
- Digital Thermometer (child-friendly)
- Pain Reliever suitable for children (check with paediatrician)
- Saline Solution (for cleaning eyes or wounds)
- Oral Rehydration Solution or Electrolyte Powder (to prevent dehydration)
- Calamine Lotion or Aloe Vera Gel (for soothing sunburns or skin irritations)
- Petroleum Jelly or Barrier Cream (for chapped lips or diaper rash)
- Safety Pins
- CPR Face Shield or Barrier Device
- Children's Medications (if prescribed, including asthma inhalers or EpiPens)
- Emergency Contact Information and Medical History Form (include any allergies or specific health conditions of your child)
Camping at Home - Garden Adventures
If venturing into the wilderness is not possible or seems overwhelming, consider a camping experience closer to home. Set up a tent in your garden and enjoy the benefits of camping while having the comforts of home nearby. It can also act as a "pre-camping test" to see if camping is your thing.
Indoor Activities for Hot Weather
If the weather is too hot or you can't camp outside, you can still have an enjoyable camping experience at home with your child. You can create a comfortable camping area in your living room with blankets, pillows, and fairy lights. You can do fun activities such as telling stories, playing board games, or having a camping-themed movie night.
Camping with young children can be a rewarding experience that provides numerous benefits, from fostering a connection with nature to building strong family bonds. You can ensure a successful camping trip by following the tips and tricks provided. Remember, even if camping outdoors isn't feasible, you can still create memorable experiences at home. If you're looking at activities to do while indoors that teach your child about summer, consider exploring our Summer 3-part cards that include images of objects, food and animals about summer and can become introductions to new ideas to explore with your child.
Experience the wonders of summer nature and go on an exciting journey that your family will fondly remember for many years.
If you're looking for a good camping read with your child, try some of these good summer camping books for children of all ages.