3 Ways to Keep Your Kids Happy During Camping Trips

3 Ways to Keep Your Kids Happy During Camping Trips

Camping can be a lot of fun, but it can also be a weekend-long suffer fest. If you don’t believe that, you’re either glamping or haven’t spent enough time in tents. The potential for a major suffer fest only grows when you add some youngsters to the mix because if there is one thing children don’t handle well, it’s discomfort and boredom.

Either, or both, can sink the best of camping intentions. When it comes to discomfort, there are some easy ways to ensure things don’t get too miserable.

Weather & Insects

Camping with kids would ideally happen only in perfect weather, without the added nuisance of a fresh hatch of mosquitoes. Camping in the real world rarely jives with those conditions. If you want to take your kids out and live the tent life, keep an eye on the forecast.

Early summer temperatures in a lot of places are conducive to enjoyable days and easy-to-sleep nights. Too cold is a different story, and it’s best to stay home. Too hot is even worse, and while family life and schedules might dictate camping happens when it can, if the forecast calls for real heat, you’re in trouble.

A battery-operated fan or two can help mitigate the issue of baking in a tent, but it’s best to make sure you have the kind of tent that will allow as much airflow as possible. You get extra credit if it’s the kind of tent that also won’t let in tons of mosquitoes, because even a few in a tent can raise the misery index to uncomfortable levels. Pay attention to the conditions you’re going to ask your kids to camp in, because they’ll dictate how well it goes.

Bummed & Bored

Children are like puppies. If they get bored, they either get into trouble or become largely insufferable. Make sure you have activities planned and then backup activities planned. You might think that since you’re taking the kids camping on a lake, they’ll just want to fish all day, but they might not. The fishing might also be slow.

One of the things I found with my daughters when I needed to stave off boredom for them was that a good minnow net is an asset. I’m not talking about a cheap butterfly net that will fall apart after the first swipe when you see a crayfish on a rock or a leopard frog on shore. I’m talking a well-built net that can handle some abuse.

The amount of fun kids can have with a net and a five-gallon bucket is incredible. It’s also a great way to make a game out of it. How many species of frogs can you catch? Minnows? Can they build a little habitat for some creatures? Kids thrive off of challenges, and the more you can engage them in the outdoors in different ways, the more they’ll stay active in both body and mind. Hikes, bike rides, swimming, and anything that keeps them out of the tent and exploring the world is a plus. Don’t show up somewhere without some loose plan for activities because that’s a recipe for trouble.

Spoil ‘Em A Little

When my girls were younger, I liked to surprise them with gifts when going camping. A new toy, yard game, plastic aquarium, or whatever that they can use for a camping trip brings some novelty to the whole thing. It’s exciting and allows them to use their imagination.

Parenting comes in many forms, and some folks would disagree with this, but I like to spoil my kids a little when it comes to the outdoors and camping. They eat a lot of their favorite foods, including a hell of a lot of junk food, and they are allowed to make the choice on what activities we do.

This last one puts them in control of their happiness, which is important. If you force them to fish for eight hours when they were done at two, they have all the reason in the world to make you suffer. Don’t let them.

If they say they want to swim or play some yard games, make it happen. Let them make some choices about what to do, what to eat, and when to sleep. This tends to be a big deviation from life at home and can be a great way to make camping feel special. This is important because if they have a good experience, they’re going to want to keep going.

As an outdoors-loving parent who wants outdoors-loving kids, that’s hard to beat that.

For more information on getting kids into the outdoors, check out these articles: How to Introduce Your Kids to Deer Scouting, The 6 Best Youth Deer Hunting Rifles, and How Not to Introduce Your Kids to Guns.

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