By Brittany Rhoade
April 13, 2021
Camping as a family can be full of adventure and fun. However, it can easily feel like more stress than fun and more chaos than adventure. Luckily, there is an easy way to shift some of the stresses into fun.
Practice gives everyone an opportunity to try something new before fully jumping in. But how do you practice camping? Check out these practical ideas of trying out a small dose of camping.
Kids are not usually used to sleeping next to other people, especially mom and dad. Set up your tent in the back yard or even just have a sleepover in the living room. Let your kids experience going to bed with others sleeping close by. Explain the expectations and practice a realistic bedtime routine that can be used outdoors. Having a balance between normal routines and special privileges or treats can help.
TIP: Glow sticks can be great if anyone (child or adult) is feeling nervous about the dark.
Have a backyard fire prior to camping. Take time to explain fire safety rules and how to keep a fire going. Practice collecting sticks, staying clear of the smoke and putting out the fire at the end.
Our key fire safety rules are:
Assume anything inside the fire pit area is hot
No running around the fire area
Ask an adult before putting sticks in the fire
No sticks larger than a paper towel tube
Take a hike at a local park to test out everyone’s endurance. Consider talking about trail etiquette and map reading skills.. This is a great time to let your kids take the lead and have some control. Let them wander and explore while practicing safe boundaries.
Practicing isn’t just for the kids. Adults need practice doing the everyday camping tasks, like cooking, while also managing the kids in an outdoor setting. Head over to a local park and use a grill or picnic area to make and eat a meal. Decide how much you want to prep ahead of time versus cook on site. Consider these questions: Is sitting at a picnic table or on a blanket better for your kids? Do you need to bring a booster chair for a little one? How are you going to clean the dishes?
Here are a few other helpful tips-
Kids will arrive with excitement and a desire to explore. Talk about boundaries and share expectations prior to arrival so they can jump out of the car and start their adventure.
Let them have some autonomy. Camping requires a decent amount of rules to keep everyone safe. Find ways to let your kids have some freedom, help with tasks and remind them off all the special things they CAN do while camping.
Start out simple when planning your first family camping trip. One night, not too far from home, and enjoyable weather will likely help things go smoothly.
Trying anything new with kids can be risky. How will they respond to the new environment? What will everyone’s attitudes be? How will you maintain some of your normal family rhythms while doing something totally different? But with a little bit of practice, everyone can get a feel for how a camping trip may go and prevent your first trip from being the first time for everything.
If you are interested in trying out camping but don’t have the gear, want others to help plan and facilitate the trip for you or need advice about how to get started, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.