The look on your kids’ faces when they catch their first fish or bite into the first gooey S’more of the season is priceless. Taking your little pioneers on an annual camping adventure not only fosters the love of nature, but it creates memories that last a lifetime.
Camping as a family instills valuable life lessons of awareness, independence, safety and cooperation. It’s also a lot of fun and something everyone can look forward to every year. You don’t need much to get out and experience the outdoors. And the campsite is the perfect place to start family traditions. Here are some fun ideas to incorporate into your annual family camping trip.
Allow the kids to help design the layout of the campsite upon arrival. Consult with them where they think the tents should go as well as the makeshift kitchen. There will most likely already be a fire pit, so involve everyone in gathering firewood and kindling. Designate an area for recreational supplies and separate areas for enclosed trash cans.
To keep up with traditions, you might reserve a specific week/weekend for the annual event. Kids will better understand how the tradition works if the dates are the same.
Camp cooking can be as simple as hot dogs or it can be a truly gourmet experience. You and your family should have planned out your meals ahead of time so you have the right supplies. Now, it’s simply a matter of execution. Give everyone their duties and be sure to involve every member of the family. Cooking together will instill guidance and cooperation in the kids, and will help them appreciate mealtime at the campsite.
Choose at least one special meal that you will make every time you go camping. Whether it’s your famous steak and bonfire potatoes or a colossal Dagwood sandwich, make it yummy and it will become a camp staple to look forward to.
And, of course, camping is not camping without everyone’s favorite campfire treat — S’mores.
Go canoeing, take a family hike or choose a perfect picnic spot near the lake. Don’t hang back at the campsite the entire trip. Get out there and be active while spending quality time together. Teach kids about the different elements of nature on your excursion, like how to identify plants and flowers (especially if they’re poisonous). Take them fishing or show them how to skip rocks along the water. Each year the kids will get better and better at the activity and delight in their accomplishments.
Family game traditions are a great way to keep kids — and parents — entertained and fired up for the annual camping trip.
If your brood is competitive, plan a family sporting event tournament like whiffle ball or football. Award a quirky trophy to the winners so they can brag about it until next year’s camping trip.
Target practice is another activity to try, and it’s a great opportunity to teach kids weapon safety. Set up a number of targets and have your family take turns shooting them with an airsoft gun.
Have some friendly competition by setting up a campsite obstacle course. Obstacles can include: running around the tent two times, crawling under the picnic table, hugging a tree, singing ‘Row Row Row Your Boat’ and so on.
Music and storytelling have always been an important part of the camping experience. Bring a guitar, tambourine and harmonica and encourage all to join in to sing classics like Kumbaya or Home on the Range. Inspire everyone to belt it out considering your only audience is nature. Let everyone have a chance to choose the song and play the instruments for a truly united experience.
Mum’s two cents
Camping is something I have always wanted to do with my boys. Although we are not much of an outdoorsy and adventurous family, but we do enjoy spending time outdoors and I am betting we’ll have loads of fun camping out in a lovely and peaceful forest for a day or two. I am sure we will never run out of awesome things to do and see, plus it is a creative way of teaching the little one to appreciate and love nature. It is also the perfect excuse to go on yet another adventure with the family.