Camping With Kids:

The Definitive Guide

Let’s see!

You’ve been planning the ideal family camping trip with your kids for weeks.

You’ve chosen the most beautiful destination, the perfect campsite, and all of the requisite supplies.

That’s great!

But if you’re not prepared for the inevitable and dreaded declaration, “I’m bored!” it could all be for naught.

That’s why we have created this awesome guide on camping with kids so that you can enjoy your camping trip to its fullest.

Camping with kids

Contents

Camping Essentials

Chapter 1

Camping Essentials

Prepare your kid for camping

Chapter 2

Prepare The Kids

Camping Activities with your kid

Chapter 3

Camping Activities With Kids

Camping Safety Rules For Kids

Chapter 4

Safety Rules For Kids

Cooking while camping with kids

Chapter 5

Cooking While Camping With The Kids

Other useful camping hacks

Chapter 6

Some Useful Camping Tips

Chapter 1:

Camping Essentials For Kids

When you’re out in the wild with your little ones, there are a couple of (actually a little more) things you are required to carry in order to make the whole experience a smooth and cherishable affair.

Here we have made a comprehensive list of essential camping gear to help guide you when you’re out camp shopping.

Camping Essentials

1. Tent

The tent is number one on our list, rather than the number one item on any camping list.

The size of the tent can be determined based on the number of children but it is usually recommended to go for a four-person tent so that you and your family (In case you’re traveling with your partner) could be wrapped up, all snug and comfortable.

Remember that when it comes to buying tents, not all tents are the same in the sense they all come with their own pros and cons. The average tent (if there is such a thing) costs anywhere between 40- 50$ while the more expensive variants may be priced 600 – 700$.

If you purchase a tent priced on a lower scale then it may pose issues like weather leaks or set up mishaps. Then again that doesn’t mean you need to punch a hole in your pocket but rather maintain a balance like buying a tent that serves all your purposes while also satisfying your budget.

The Marmot Tungsten 4 person tent is ideal for children, especially toddlers since it comes with a blackout facility and maximum protection. It is also quite light to carry and easy to set up.

Camping Tent for kids
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2. Hammock

Your early camping memories may include taking long pondering naps on a comfortable hammock.

It’s also one of the best memories you can give your children. Even pictures of the most idealistic campsites would almost definitely include a hammock.

You can read books on, enjoy the serene scenery or just look up at the trees. It adds more fun to your campsite.

When you have set your mind on buying a camping strap, opt for one that includes straps as well as tools that make the setup nice and easy.

The Legit camping double hammock is one you can be proud of. It’s wide enough for 2 people, is available in a variety of colors, and has everything you need to set it up.

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3. Sleeping Pad

Just carrying a sleeping bag may seem like a good idea at first but can you really expect yourself to sleep well on the cold, uneven ground?

If not you, what about your children?

Similar to camping pillows, sleeping bags also have two options which are foam pads and inflatables.

If you would like to avoid the hassle of inflating your sleeping pad then a foam pad is your pick. Then again, inflatables have all the best benefits.

They are made from durable material, are extremely light and convenient to carry, and also are much more comfortable than your average foam beds. It’s best recommended to go for a twin-sized inflatable sleeping pad like the Intex Cozy Kidz Inflatable Airbed than a queen-sized sleeping pad.

Twin-sized individual pads ensure that your children can sleep comfortably even while you’re tossing or turning in your bed.

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4. Sleeping Bag

Sleeping bags are essential you just can’t skip on when going camping with your children. Even if you go for a low-end camping tent, your sleeping bags should be top-notch.

It is important that you find the right sleeping that gives your child maximum comfort. There are sleeping bags with specific sizes that are separately meant for children and adults.

It is best to get one that has a comfortable headrest. Also, sleeping bags should feel safe and secured on dark scary nights.

The Kelty Kids Woobie Sleeping Bag is a solid top-quality sleeping bag that ensures your kids have a sweet dream.

Sleeping Bag for kids camping
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5. Blankets and Sheets

Blankets and sheets are the ingredients for creating a home-like atmosphere in your tent for your children.

They keep them warm and snug on cold and scary nights. It is the equivalent of a mother’s love for the children.

Just like a good sleeping bag, blankets and sheets ensure all-around comfort. It is also necessary when you are traveling with a toddler.

6. Lighting

Lighting is true in nearly all walks and adventures of life, especially camping with children.

The darkness prevailing in the nights of the wilderness can become a bit disheartening for your children.

Therefore, ensuring that your campsite is proper lighting would be more encouraging for your children.

You would require lanterns such as the EverBrite Camp Lighting or kid headlamps for the added lighting you need.

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Don’t forget to check out our recommendations for the best rechargeable camping lanterns.

7. Camping Furniture

Of course, this does not involve your living room couch. These days camping chairs are extremely easy to pack and carry given their foldable mechanism.

They also come in various shapes and sizes for both adults and children. They can also be found to have additional features like leg support, cup holder, or pouches.

The Sportneer foldable camping chair is ideal for kids and can support a whopping capacity of 350 lbs.

Camping Chair for kids
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8. Pillows

Camping pillows can go a long way in making sure you are comfortable.

If in any case you are not carrying a sleeping bag with a headrest or are in a need of extra pillows to make your kids feel cozy then carrying a camping pillow would be a good idea.

There are two types to choose from – inflatable and foam. The Thermarest Camping Pillow can be used by both children and adults.

9. Hygiene Kit – Sunscreen, bug & insect repellent

Camping involves being exposed to nature in its most raw form. It, therefore, demands plenty of attention from the side of the parents.

You need to carry all the necessary gear that helps protect your children from any of the elements such as sunscreen, bug & insect repellent.

Good hygiene is quite hard to maintain outdoors thus carry plenty of toilet paper, sunscreen, cleansing wipes, and of course, hand sanitizer.

You can also purchase a portable bathing station like Kipida solar shower bag.

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10. Tableware and Utensils

After a full day of exciting activities, what is the one thing that gets your kids really happy?

Food!

And that involves cooking and table manners. To make this job easy and smooth, what you need is a Whisperlight International by MSR for faster cooking and the appropriate cookware.

This involves spoon & forks (round-edged for child safety), plastic plates, and so on.

11. Appropriate Clothing

Your little ones deserve to be encased in clothing that ensures maximum protection and comfort.

Layer them up according to the surroundings and weather of the place you’ll be camping in. There are different categories of clothing depending on the conditions you are camping.

Most of which are mentioned below;

12. First Aid Kit

Your standard first aid kit would include all necessary items in case of any serious injury.

Some people opt-out of taking it to avoid cramping space.

But when you are traveling with children, it is an absolute necessity because you never know what would befall you in times of emergency.  

And, now it’s time to head over to the next section.

Chapter 2:

Prepare The Kids

Preparing your kids for a camping trip is very important!

Kids should not feel they are forced to join the trip otherwise it is going to kill yours as well as their joy at the same time.

So, here are some ways you can prepare them in advance.

1. Set Camping Rules

Setting up camping rules is a must.

It is the easiest way to protect your kids and keep them safe. So make a list of rules and make sure your kids follow them.

A fun way to do it in advance is while you are home where you can sit them down and explain each rule to them carefully.

Do not lecture them on the necessity and importance of these rules, they are not mature enough to understand. Rather, announce if they follow those rules they get rewarded when they get back home.

Set rules regarding fire safety, eating food, and not roaming alone.

2. Let your kid help you pack

Let your kids feel included in every part of the journey. Encourage your kid to help you prepare for the camping trip.

If possible give them light gears to keep in their bag-pack. And allow them the chance to pack their own bag.

Do not overburden their shoulder and rather leave space for their favorite items or toys.

3. Let your kid help to choose the campsite

Include your kids from the very beginning, while choosing your destination ask for their liking or disliking.

If they get to choose their own campsite then they feel more connected and excited about the trip.  

4. Let your kid decide some of the activities

A camping trip is not complete without activities (more about this in the next section).

And kids should not feel that you are deciding everything for them so allow them to speak their mind and suggest activities they want to do.

You may also present activities that you have in mind.

Let kids decide some camping activities

5. Make a Checklist

Make a checklist of all the details of your trip and hand the list over to your kids and make them feel like they are in charge.

That way every gear and other necessities would get doubly checked and you won’t miss out on anything.  

6. Practice Beforehand

Tent experiences are fun for you. But, if it is the first time that your child is going to sleep inside a tent then it can hamper their sleep.

So practice beforehand.

Play camping in your backyard. It also can be a great way to introduce them to fire safety rules. You can teach them recipes that don’t require an oven.

Practice makes everything better.

If you want your kids to be camp ready then practice a couple of times and they will be prepared for anything.  

Chapter 3:

Camping Activities With Kids

It’s difficult for children to comprehend all of the wonderful advantages of being outside, so it’s up to you to demonstrate them.

And when there’s no Wi-Fi, no TV, and most definitely no mobile coverage, what better time to hit the woods?

Try incorporating these kid-friendly activities into your next camping trip, and you’ll hopefully be camping with your family for years to come—complaint-free!

Let’s Begin.

Camping Activities with your kid

1. Gather Around The Campfire And Sing

Is your family comprised of performers?

Even if it isn’t, getting the whole gang singing around the campfire is still enjoyable. Check out these simple campfire sing-along songs if someone has a guitar.

You might even sing a cappella, which is sure to scare away any local animals!

Singing around campfire

2. Tell Frightful Stories 😀

While not every child loves horror stories, most teenagers enjoy a good scare!

After dark, gather the whole family around the fading campfire, hold a flashlight to your face for some added impact, tell either of these terrifying tales and prepare to welcome your terrified kids into your tent when they can’t sleep! (Evil Laugh)

3. Cooking In The Style Of A Camp

Cooking their meals without the use of a stove or microwave can teach your children the importance of doing something with their own two hands.

But make sure you have a fallback strategy in case something goes wrong.

4. Tell Them The Art Of Fishing

If you’re going camping near a body of water, there’s a good chance you’ll be able to teach your kids how to catch their dinner.

There are plenty of family memories to be made by the lake, whether you’re teaching them how to put squirmy, squishy bait on a hook or how not to hook another family member on the cast-off.

Fishing with kid

5. Take A Hike

There’s no better way to spend a day in the woods than with your family on a long hike.

It’s a fantastic way to get some exercise, discover the outdoors, and gain a better understanding of nature.

6. Go Bouldering (Safely)

Bouldering is a type of rock climbing that takes place on smaller rock formations without the use of a harness.

Other than a scratch or two on the knee, there’s no risk of injury with adequate planning and supervision.

Children can gain confidence and learn to think strategically and persevere.

Bouldering

7. Recognize The Flora

There are some mobile apps that can quickly recognize local shrubbery—but where’s the fun in that?

Get rid of the technology and pick up a large book of plants instead.

And start debating whether the leaf is poison ivy, poison oak, or just a normal bush that just causes a rash!

8. Go Bird Observing

Bird watching, also known as birding, is a unique outdoor sport similar to stone collecting or naming local plant species.

Purchase an advanced field guide for older children to assist them in identifying all of the birds in the region.

Birding

9. Participate in GeoCaching

Since geocaching is an activity that can only be done outside, it is one of the most fun things for kids to do while camping.

Hide a treasure for your child to discover, then use a GPS to locate the treasure’s exact coordinates.

Register the coordinates on GeoCaching.com, and then send your children the GPS, a map, and clues to assist them in finding it.

If you’re searching for someone else’s cached object, make sure to replace it with your own at the end of the search to keep the fun going.  

10. Observing The Stars

If you live in a big city, your kids may have never really gazed at the stars—which is a shame!

Use these incredible maps to show your children all of the big constellations, and brush up on your astronomy to teach them about the night sky’s rich past.

11. Tag With A Flashlight

Flashlight tag is similar to a normal tag, except that no one gets tagged too hard by an older sibling and begins to weep (sounds familiar?).

Choose which member of your family will be “it,” send everyone to cover, and then watch as your entire family scrambles to avoid the dreaded flashlight beam.

Don’t forget to bring extra batteries in case your tagging tool dies! Here are some of the best camping flashlights.

12. Play Cards Or Board Games

Board games and card games are great fun, but nowadays’ kids can’t take a turn without texting or taking a selfie.

Instead, head out into the woods with your deck of cards and favorite your board game, where there’ll be nothing to do but enjoy each other’s company.

Chapter 4:

Safety Rules For Kids

Camping is one of the most fun-loving outdoor activities.

Though going on camping with children could be a little risky unless you know the camping safety rules for kids.

So, with the safety rules given below, you would be able to explore more and not be worried much.

Camping Safety Rules For Kids

1. Instructions For Kids

As a parent, you will have to be entirely responsible about the camping do’s and don’ts for your kid when planning for outdoor camping.

It does have some benefits like kids getting away from Phones or PSP games and indulging themselves more in nature. Therefore, the outdoor activities will help your kid understand nature and perhaps respect it.

While you, on the other side have to be careful as nature does have some dangers. So set some do’s and don’ts instructions for your kid’s safety.

2. Necessary Packing

The idea of camping is excellent and exciting for everyone in the family but at the same time, packing your stuff for this is very important.

There are some essentials like antibiotics, safety equipment, gears, food, sunglasses, camping tents, etc.

Don’t forget them!

Check out these articles on how to organize your camping gear like a pro and how to pack clothes for camping.

3. Keep Children Away From Water

Though it’s challenging to keep children away from water like streams and lakes, it can turn out to be a little risky for them if no adult is around.

So the best way to save your kids from that is not to forget to add a water activity for children when you are around.

So that they don’t crave to go to the waters alone.

Keep children away from water while camping

4. Don’t Leave Them Alone

As soon as you step out for camping, make sure you set up specific rules for your kids.

Rules like not going alone anywhere outside the camping boundaries, may it be for water or washroom.

As you could be at a place with wild animals around, make sure these rules are made clear to kids.

5. Set Up Boundaries

The first thing to decide once you reach your camping site is to set up boundaries for kids and, in fact, for the whole family so that the camping stays safe and does not turn out to be harmful to anyone.

You could create fencing or do tree markings for establishing it as boundaries.

6. Shoes Are A Must

Make it a habit for your kids to wear shoes all the time until you are there for camping as it will keep them safe from any kind of small insects, and flip-flops could keep their feet open.

7. Camping Tools Are A Must

When you move out for camping, there are some mandated tools that you have to carry along like axes, knives, and multitool.

This comes in use for cutting, digging, and things like that. It would be safer if you be careful and give instructions to kids on the first day itself to stay away from these tools and not play with them.

Instead, you can get some plastic tools for them to play along or to dig.

Leatherman heavy-duty multitool

8. Stay Away From Poisonous Trees And Plants

Some trees or plants are hazardous and poisonous; therefore, remind your kids to stay from them and not put anything in the mouth when playing outside or near the trees.

9. Stay Away From Animals

This, too, is a tricky one as the kids feel very attracted towards some animals, but they don’t understand that some animals are pretty wild to go near them, and they might carry some diseases as well, which could be contagious.

Wild animals and some harmless animals can also try to defend themselves with the teeth or claws when they see humans approaching them.

If you are going to camp in a bear country then check out how to repel bears.

10. Fire Safety Rules

Before you leave for camping, make sure you give a proper lesson and practice for fire safety.

The fire safety rules should be at the fingertips of the kids.

You can try and illustrate it with a fun presentation also you can make fun stickers and stick them around your campsite so that easy for them to remember.

11. Bug Repellent Bracelet

Bug and insect can ruin your camping experience.

Bug and insect repellent creams and sprays work fine when you are inside the tent and not running around.

Kids are more likely to run here and there so the right thing to do is to get them a bug repellent bracelet.

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12. Whistle And Flashlight

Your kid should wear a whistle all the time and must know the proper use of whistle-blowing.

It can be a lifesaver in any dangerous situation.

Another safety tool is using flashlight, and make sure they carry it in their pockets all the time.

Chapter 5:

Cooking While Camping With Kids

Camping is not just about kids.

You need time to enjoy yourself as well and you can’t spend the entire day cooking.

So here are some important tips that will save you precious time to indulge in fun activities with your kid.

Cooking while camping with kids

1. Pack Enough Snacks

During outdoor activities, you go munching often since we are involved in multiple activities and burn enough calories to eat repeatedly while getting very less time to spend around an oven.

So, stock up on snacks.

It will help you beat those hunger pangs. It would be wise if you carry nuts and crackers as well.

You can pack some high protein bars so that it not only gives good taste but keeps your kid high on energy.

2. Prepare A Meal Plan

Prepare a meal plan while you are still at home. It will help you to pack the right ingredients in the right amount.

Choose easy meals that include your kid’s favorite recipes and ingredients since a good meal can compensate for every small up-and-down.

Preparing a meal plan is going to save you from a hassle and give you more time to enjoy yourself with your kids. Here are 19 delicious camping meals for your kids.

3. Prep Your Meals

If possible prepare some of your meals in advance.

You can keep the dressing prepared if you have planned on having a salad in any of your meals or cut the vegetables for your meals.

Prepping saves time and energy.

4. Cook One Pot Meals

There are a number of meals that can be made using just one pot. So make a list of them and put them into your meal plan.

Here are some of the one pot meals that you and your kids will enjoy.

5. Choose The Right Cookware

As you are going to be camping with your kids, you have to be extra cautious about the things that can cause harm, your cookware or oven being some of them.

So make sure you buy one that comes with all the necessary safety features and try to keep your children away from all the heated objects.

Here’s one from Bulin that we recommend:

Bulin Cookware
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6. Carry Extra Food

Camping means out of comfort; hence you will not be having the liberty of cooking or eating the type of food you like at any point in time.

There could be a situation where the food might not be available or the one that you brought turns out to be stale.

Try to carry food that has a long shelf life so that nothing goes to waste.

7. Keep Food Away From Your Tent

Be alert and keep clear instructions of keeping food away and outside the tent.

This is not only for keeping the place clean but also to avoid attracting animals near the tent because of the food aroma.

As wild animals such as bears or raccoons get attracted to the smell of food.

Chapter 6:

Some Useful Camping Tips

Now that we have covered most of the important things in our guide on camping with kids.

Here are some useful camping tips that will make your camping experience a little less hectic and more wonderful for your kids.

Other useful camping hacks
  • Embrace the dirt: Every camping activity involves dirt so make sure you keep a positive approach towards it.
  • Learn to accept changes: Things are not always going to be exactly how you planned it so accept the changes when they occur.
  • Stay organized: Staying organized will save you from stress and save time.
  • Be weather-proof: Weather is unpredictable so be prepared for rain heat or cold based on your campsite.
  • Reserve your campsite in advance: Reserving your campsite is important as it can be heartbreaking if you miss your chosen destination.
  • Good Ethics: Teach them how to keep the camp environment clean.
  • Good Hygiene: Make sure they wash hands properly before every meal.
  • Good Behaviour: Teach your kid how to behave with neighbour campers.
  • Hydration can save lives: Keep yourself and your kid hydrated at all times by carrying plenty of water and juices.

Conclusion

If you have finished reading this entire guide then you are at least half prepared and now you know exactly what to do and what not to do throughout the entire trip.

Don’t over sweat it.

The most important thing is for you to enjoy the experience with your child.

Happy camping!

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