6 Tips for Camping with Young Kids

By Samantha Lemna  | 
Mar 09, 2016

Camping is an awesome family activity. It gets everyone active, outside, you get to see many new places and enjoy Canada's beautiful geography. It offers a great break from the hustle and bustle of regular life and is often a source of fond memories for years to come. But if you're just thinking about starting camping or you took a hiatus after having kids, it may be a bit overwhelming - especially if your kids are young! Anything with small children requires a bit more planning and preparation, but don't worry, we're here to help! Here are our 6 tips to make camping with young kids easier:

Tip #1 - Start Small

While it may sound strange, a great way to help young children prepare for camping is to practice in your backyard. If you've got a tent, pitch it in the backyard (or even inside your home) and let the kids hang out, play, and even sleep in it. If you plan on using an RV, let them explore it and arrange a sleepover. The more comfortable they get with your tent and RV, the easier it will be when you go camping for real.

When the kids and you are ready, start off by camping somewhere nearby. This minimizes the driving time and your kids will feel more at ease in a familiar area - not to mention it will be more convenient if you forget something essential!

Tip #2 - Dedicate a Duffle Bag

Want to get your kids involved and excited? Give them a duffle bag and ask them to pack their own stash of toys and treasures they'd like to take on the camping trip. By packing their own bag, your children will feel involved with the whole process and help build excitement for the adventure ahead. Also, the duffle bag acts as a toy corral—so when the campsite is looking a little cluttered, just ask your kids to clean up by putting their own toys back in their own duffel bag.

Tip #3 - Bring Entertainment

It’s always a good idea to pack a variety of entertainment for your kids. Include things that will keep them busy both outside and inside, just in case the weather turns. Bikes and helmets, sports balls, and outdoor games like a bean bag toss are always popular. To keep them entertained inside, bring books, toys, colouring, movies, and games - this can be fun for the whole family!

Tip #4 - Remember the First Aid Kit

Small children can be more sensitive and seem to be prone to minor scrapes and bruises, so don’t forget to pack a well-stocked medical kit. Include a mild soap, rubber gloves, a variety of bandages, gauze pads, antiseptic wipes and ointment, polysporin or an equivalent product, medical adhesive tape, elastic bandages with velcro or clips or safety pins, a triangular bandage, tweezers, scissors, thermometer, flashlight, tick removal tool, insect repellent, after bite ointment, ice pack, ziplock bags, and a variety of over-the-counter medicines like ibuprofen and anti-histamines. Don't forget sunscreen and aloe vera!

You can buy pre-made kits or make one yourself. Be sure to include any inhalers, medications, or other medical equipment your family uses.

Tip #5 - Get Organized and Oriented

Keeping organized helps keep your campsite clean, makes life easier, and you have a better chance of not losing anything. If you have an RV, make sure everything is organized and in its place before you go. Bags and plastic containers are very helpful - especially if you have a tent. Keep everything separate, such as toys and kitchenware, if at all possible.

Get your kids to help while you camp. Getting them involved helps you out and gives them a sense of responsibility. Give them some simple campsite chores, such as gathering wood or collecting water, in addition to expecting them to put things away and help clean up after meals.

As for being oriented, make sure you look up the driving directions and road conditions ahead of time. Try to look them up at the same time you'll be driving so you have a good idea of traffic. DriveBC and Alberta 511 will keep you up to date on roads as well.

Once you're at your destination, help your kids get oriented by getting them to memorize the number of the campsite. Go exploring and show them the major landmarks. Use those landmarks to help them remember the campsite location: for example, we're four spots up from the washrooms. Setting rules such as they have to be able to hear you, they can't be out of sight, or setting physical boundaries, are also a good idea to keeping your kids from getting lost. Walkie-talkies or cell phones are other options in case they end up wandering a bit too far.

Tip #6 - Get Out and About

If your children are finding it difficult to adjust to camping life, consider breaking up the rough-and-rugged routine with a day trip. Going to a waterpark or visiting a historic site is a great way to get them interested in their surroundings and distracted from being upset. If there are any nearby towns, consider taking them for pizza or ice cream. While this is fun for any family, it may be especially helpful for those who aren't 100% sold on camping yet!

Bonus: here’s a list of items to bring to make camping with young kids easier.New Call-to-action

  Back to Resource Centre