Camping is an excellent way to connect with nature. Many groups including Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, youth groups and churches have regular summer camping opportunities. Camping with a group of families can be a bunch of fun too!
Parent are often called upon to plan activities for campers, so we’ve compiled ideas and tips for making your next camping trip fun, safe and exciting. Use VolunteerSpot's easy online signup sheets to plan ahead with your group to determine who will bring meals, gear, and other supplies, so that everything is covered before you even get in the car! For more details on these ideas, check out our free Camping with Kids ebook.
Camping with Kids Tips
1. Your camping destination might be hours away from your home. To keep kids from “driving” you crazy en-route, prepare some fun activities for the drive. Have each child pack a bag with books, car games, or drawing materials. For some fun family activities, try these games: Memory Game, Sing-a-long, Twenty Questions, Car Bingo. The car trip can also be the perfect time to review safety information. Discuss fire safety, what to do if someone gets lost, how to act if a wild animal is in the area, and water safety. Remind everyone that they should never wander away from camp without a buddy.
2. When you arrive at your camping destination, you might not be in the mood to cook a big meal. Some easy ideas for quick cooking while camping:
- Omelets in a baggie (mix eggs in a ziploc with cheese and ham and lower into boiling water to cook)
- Hot Dogs
- S'mores (Of course!)
- Jiffy Pop Popcorn
3. Once you get settled and have had a good meal, you might want to explore the area. Hiking is a great physical activity and educational too! Depending on the age, attention span and temperament of your campers, you might want to plan some activities to entertain young children along the way.
- Tell the children to keep an eye out for wildlife. Count the number and/or types of animals spotted. Then, use the list to educate the children about each type of animal.
- Engage the kids in a Nature Scavenger Hunt.
- Every so often, ask everyone to sit or stand in place, and be as quiet as possible, then wait for the sounds of the forest to come to life.
- With younger kids, try playing “Follow the Hike Leader.” Have each child take a turn hiking in the front of the line, behind the adult leader. Each following child mimics the creative walks created by the lead child.
4. Back at camp, here are some nature activities kids love.
- Scavanger hunt
- Natural sculptures
- Nature show and tell
- Campground ranger programs
5. While you prepare dinner, have children make up a play about friends, camping, their favorite activity, etc. Have them perform the play for their chaperones, parents, counselors by the evening fire or on the last day of camp.
6. After dinner, campfire stories are always a hit. Don’t forget the glowsticks! They’re fun and help parents keep track of the little ones at night. To help the kids settle down before bed, have them work on their nature journal.
Additional camping tips:
- Keep most of your food in the car to discourage critters from visiting your campsite.
- Pack items that you will need last into your vehicle first.
- Bring plenty of reading material, puzzle books, and a deck of cards for rainy days.
- Try to arrive long before sunset so you have plenty of time to set up your tents.
- Be prepared for rainy weather with waterproof equipment, clothing, rain ponchos and boots.
- Cell phones may be out of tower range. Consider bringing walkie-talkies.
Most of all, have fun!