Camping with Kids
Camping with young children is possible and with the right planning, it can be the beginning of some awesome family adventures! The wild outdoors, the fresh air, and roughing it in nature can be a fun break from the hectic and ho-hum routine of the city. Imagine waking up right where you want to be, ready for exploration and excitement. And, kids will love eating outdoors!
What you need to start off on the right foot...
Find your camping destination
Decide which park or campground you’ll go to based on attractions, amenities, and kid-friendliness. Find a place that offers a lake for cooling off and swimming, and easy hiking trails for wee ones. Ask friends or neighbours for recommendations. Here are some helpful sites to find the perfect camping destination:
TRCA - Albion Hills Campground
Camping in Ontario
Involve and prepare the kids
Have the kids help once you've selected your destination. Teach them how to read maps and get them to help with the planning: finding the most efficient, or the most scenic routes to get there. Let them explore the area online to see what activities are available. Get the kids to create a vacation checklist: packing, things you'll need, food to bring, and activities you'll want to do at the campground. Read great camping stories leading up the trip to get them excited.
Before going away, hit your backyard and practice setting up your tent and sleeping in it too, so everyone understands what camping is all about! Then go for day hikes at your local nature park to help the kids become comfortable with the great outdoors and the activities associated with camping.
A long weekend is a good place to start! You can go for a longer trip later if you are happy with the experience. Stay close to home the first time, in case you need to cut your trip short.
Get the right gear
Having the right equipment is important but don’t invest too heavily until you’re sure that this can become a vacation tradition for your family. Consult friends (borrow!), surf the net, or check in with outdoor equipment stores as to what to take on your trip. Ruckify, the world's largest peer-to-peer rental marketplace, allows you to rent pretty much anything so you're bound to find camping gear. It's a great alternative to purchasing, especially if this is a new activity your family wants to explore.
Don’t bring toys but do allow one comfy item such a fave teddy or stuffed toy. If possible, leave the electronic games behind (or limit to the car ride). You don’t want to carry the stuff and kids will find plenty of fun things to do outdoors. For outdoor activities try bug boxes, magnifying glasses, field guides, paper and pencil, cameras, nets and jars – to keep them busy. Get your kids to record the trip but starting a trip journal or scrapbook. Or, get them to create a vlog (video + blog) of the trip.
More fun activities at the campground...
Discovering the outdoors such as water to play in, rocks to climb on, and the chance to see wildlife is what camping is all about. Go for walks, try identifying flowers and birds, go for a swim, and try exploring the area. Bathing in rivers can be a completely different experience for your kids. At night, make shadow puppets on the tent walls with a flashlight. Sharing outdoor activities with the family are often simple experiences — and ones that are often the most memorable. Sitting around a campfire can be an amazing experience that parents and kids can share together. Most of all, relax!
Here are some more ideas:
S’mores - Mmmmm… Melted chocolate and marshmallows between graham crackers. Your kids will want s'mores!
Camp Songs - You’ve got to brush up on camp songs from your youth and sing them to your kids.
Star Gazing - Enjoy the stars during night-time star gazing. Without the city lights, it will be so much easier to see the planets and constellations.
Ghost Stories - Spooky (friendly) tales told by one person around a campfire are a must!
Games - Bring a family favourite compact board-game (many come in travel size now).
Storytelling - Practice your art of storytelling as everyone bundles into their sleeping bags.
Take Photos - Give the kids access to the family digital camera or phones so everyone can record their own perspective and images of the trip.
Camping with kids is a great way to ensure quality family time is created without the distractions from the outside world!