Consider how you would like the camping trip to go both from your perspective and the kids. Keep in mind we are creatures of habit thus both you and your kids will probably just do and act as you always do unless you find a way to make it something special. I suggest you ‘set up‘ a situation that promotes the ‘camping and together aspect’ of your campouts. It should be about experience the outdoors, living without the usual amenities, getting by with just what you need and mostly importantly, experiencing the ‘presence’ of each other.
The Making of the Rules
The first problem to solved might very well be our own compulsive nature. There is a fine line between protecting and hovering when it comes to kids. In camping circles this becomes even more evident. After all, camping hazards abound, right? Actually, not really and if you spend a little time learning what the real camping hazards are and pay attention, you will find them quite manageable.
The better job you do of teaching your kids what to be careful of the less hovering you have to do. Thus the more you know about where you are camped and what to look for the easier it is to teach them. Are there poisonous snakes or poison ivy, for example. Research is a good thing.
Throughout our lives and ever so much today, we have seen potential dangers mitigated with rules. ( Never cross the street without looking both ways. Don’t go swimming after eating. Where your mask. Etc..) To that end one should entertain the possibility of making a few rules. No cell phones would be a good starting point but that might be a little harsh for this generation of kid so you might just try limiting the use to specific times. ( If you are lucky you’ll be camped where there is no service ;-)
If old enough, you might ask them to make the camping rules. Make sure you have maybe a clipboard with pencil and paper. And I’m sure you’ll have a few you’ll want to insert as well like the ever favorite:
- Do not venture out beyond the sight of camp.
- And watch out for each other.
Here is an example of the kind of list you might get from the kids ( depending on their ages ):
So the trick with kids is to give them enough room to have fun without you having to worry about them getting hurt.
The other big concern is entertainment.
One thing the kids might really enjoy is building a little fort of one kind or another. This offers a little designated seclusion place where they can hang out away from all those compulsive grown ups. It’s a win-win, you know where they are and they don’t have to put up with you.
Frisbees, kites, squirt guns and the like can offer up a lot of daytime entertainment. Just keep in mind, what they really want is just to spend time with you. In my opinion cards and board games are best played on a picnic table under the shade of big tree. You might need to mitigate the breeze though.
Also plan a hike or two just because it’s a good habit for both them and you to develop.
For my money the nighttime fun is the best. though. Just keep in mind it is suppose to be dark at night. That’s how you get to see all those twinkling dots over head. Occasionally one of them shoots across the sky, or so it seems. ( Our Go Camping calendar/planner has the main meteor shower dates in it.)
Also a telescope is a great thing to have along but a lot of wonder can be had with just binoculars or a spotting scope if you learn where to look at night.
Eating can also be great entertainment both day and night. However, much of the entertainment value lies in how things get prepared. Hot dogs or marshmallow cooked on sticks are must do's. Pop corn cooked in a Dutch oven on camp fire coals and foil wrapped meals just seem to amaze young minds. And it’s as much fun making and cooking camp donuts as eating them.
Take your kids and Go Camping!