Enjoying a family camping trip
Camping is a pattern interruption. It helps you break the family routine and create bonding moments together. No more nagging to get the kids to do their homework or help with the house chores. These are the moments where children would want to do the camp chores voluntarily. It opens the door on spontaneity for your kids to learn how to be independant and at the same time learn to work as a team. Ken and Jules from Outdoormagnet, a couple from Asia will share with you some tips on how to plan for a successful family camping trip, of which they practice with their kids too.
Research Your Family Camping Trip
As you are completely vulnerable to the element outdoors, research in advance can prepare you for the worst. Check the calendar to see if the weather is right for camping, as winter may be too cold for the young ones. Choosing a right place to camp also depends on how far you can drive and whether the campgrounds are affordable to you. If you are with novice campers, consider camping on established campsites. They are better equipped with toilets and showers for a more comfortable stay. Depending on your budget, some campsites offer additional facilities such as playgrounds, swimming pools, restaurants. Reserve your campsite in advance. Or you may just want to save some money and look for free places to camp.
Activities You Might Do While Camping With Your Family
As you are travelling in a group, be realistic and consider the needs of your camping crowd. Ask yourself, what exactly do you want to do? Your kids may like to spend the day hiking or just swimming by the beach. Your partner may prefer spending the day exploring the local town nearby. For the adventurous ones, camping in the wild may be their ideal camping activity. Look for a campsite that has easy access to your favorite outdoor activities. If you are planning to bring your dog, check if the campgrounds allow it. You will have fewer headaches if you know these essential details.
Undertake A Dry Run Of Your Camping Trip
Prepare or be surprised by it. Test out your gear by doing a dry run at home. You will not want to be drenched with rain due to a torn tent or missing poles. Test your gear to ensure they work properly. Write down your gear list to include essentials like First-Aid-Kid, Camping Stove, Flashlights, Tarp, Camping mattresses and Tent. Check out this list
Consider what type of tent you need for your camping group. For a small family, a 4 person tent may be sufficient. For a larger family, you may need a 12 person tent.
Ensure your tent is seam sealed to prevent the water from getting in. Try camping in controlled settings like your backyard. Start with small steps by letting the kids sleep in the tent. It can be a frightening experience for the little ones if they have not tried camping before. Teach them about the sounds of the night. Get them comfortable sleeping on the ground with their sleeping mats and bags. They will be excited for the real experience.
Pack The Right Things
It is definitely faster for a parent to pack everything. But this time, let the kids do some of their own packing, instead of doing everything for them. Give them a basic packing list. They might overpack, but it gives them an opportunity to make their own decisions on the clothes to wear or select their favorite toy to bring. You wouldn’t want to end up with a crying kid at night, looking for their ‘smelly’ blanket. You will want to double check their bags, to ensure they have proper clothings and shoes. Bring extra layers of clothings, as you can add on more layers if it is cold. Socks and hats are essential to keep yourself warm.
Remember to bring your essentials like toothbrushes, water bottles, napkins. Your checklist should include your cooking gear such as pots and pans, barbeque sticks, eating utensils and can opener too.
Play On Your Camping Trip
The more the kids get involved in the trip planning, the more they will enjoy it. Take them away from the screens as this is the time to totally disconnect and have each others’ full attention. But try not to overplan for every single activity and be flexible. Know that even the best laid plans can go wrong, so learn to relax and just have fun with the kids. Let them decide activities they want to experience like cycling, flying a kite or fishing. Allow time for unstructured play or just to unwind. Maybe they just want to chase fireflies at night or just into a cool lake on a hot day. At night, bring a star map and a telescope to gaze at the stars.
Discuss Everyone’s Duties
Encourage them to help out in setting up the tent. Assign duties to each of the family members that would be fun and easy, to make them feel that they are an important part of the adventure. Structure responsibilities so that some will clean up, some will gather firewood, some will collect water.
Plan Your Meals For Your Camping Trip
Plan Your Camping Meals
Arrange your meals ahead and plan to eat well. A hungry man is an angry man. Bring snacks that your kids will enjoy on the road trip. You can prepare ahead your main meals with meat marinades, chopped vegetables or pre-made pancake batter. Pack the ingredients into zip lock bags or separate containers. Involve the kids in the cooking process, and they will learn some basic cooking at the same time. Keep it simple, so that there is minimal cleanup. Bring a mix of perishable and non-perishable food.
Most importantly, make sure the family stays hydrated all the time. Check if there is water available at the campsite or whether you need to prepare your own. On the safe side, you can prepare a minimum of eight gallons of water for a 3 days trip for a family of four.
Always lock up your food at night, as you don’t to be surprised by a mountain of ants on your food or a surprise visit from the bear.
Consider Safety Issues You Might Encounter On Your Camping Trip
Lay down the safety rules like not going to the lakes and rivers supervised. And to take extra precautions when near a fire like not burning a fire inside the tent. Let them wear a whistle around their neck in case they get lost in the woods. But also teach them not to whistle unnecessarily as it may annoy other campers. Make sure everyone has their own headlamp so they can see well at night. Teach them how to spot poison ivy, and not to eat anything they find in the woods, as they can make them sick. Also keep in mind not to touch or feed any animals. Explain to them how to respond if they meet someone strange or a dangerous animal.
For the younger ones, after morning activities like a hike, you may get wining kids moaning a bucketful. Recognize their daily routine that they may need an afternoon nap after their morning exercise. So plan for that.
Keep a Positive Attitude During Your Camping Trip
Remember, you are not in office, not running a race or completing a project. Leave your city life behind. Best laid plans can go wrong, like unexpected rain for an entire day or your campfire would not start. Some of the situations are beyond your control and some may be your own mistakes. Stay optimistic, and find alternatives. Your family will pick up your energy and it will still be a fun trip.
With the right preparation, research and planning, you can take a lot of the hard work out of hiking, camping, and backpacking. This means you can have more time to enjoy the your surroundings, experience and the company of your friends. Enjoy Camping!
Guest Blogger: Jules along with her husband Ken and their 2 children live on a small island in South East Asia. Jules caught the adventure bug when she was young. Her mum sent her for her first outdoor camp when she was 8 years old and although it was scary she went on many more. Now she, along with her husband Ken and their two children are regular campers and out adventurers. Check out their camping adventures website at www.outdoormagnet.com.
Sharyn McCullum has travelled all her life thanks to her dad who worked for an airline. She loves travelling to different countries to immerse herself in the culture and in particular, enjoy the food. She currently calls Melbourne, Australia home.