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A Detailed Beginner’s Guide to Camping with Kids

by The Mom Trotter

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This beginner’s guide to camping with kids is designed with making the most of the great outdoors with your family. So many families imagine the joy of exploring nature together as a family, but they forget about the logistics of it all.

Of course, camping with the kids is a great bonding experience, but with kids you need an extra level of preparedness. This beginner’s guide to camping with kids offers 20 tips to make sure your trip is full of fun and not stress.

Beginner’s Guide to Camping with Kids – Prep

Practice Runs

Perhaps the most important tips in this beginner’s guide to camping with kids is to practice at home. Whether you’ll be camping at an RV spot or pitching a tent at a campground, practice runs help the family get used to their camp sleeping arrangements. 

Let the Kids Help Pack

Kids love to be included, so let them help with the preparation by packing their own gear. Create a checklist for your kids that outlines all the things they’ll need for your camping trip. If you’re RV camping, give them a checklist plus a certain amount of space for bringing along their favorite items.

Let the Kids Help Prep

Have the kids help prep your RV or camper or load up the car in the same way you let them help pack. Obviously, you don’t want your kids doing RV prep solo, but it can be fun for them to follow along and help you inspect the various systems of the RV. They’ll feel included and learn about your house on wheels in the process. 

Make a Checklist

No matter how long you’ve been traveling, a checklist is always a great decision. Go over every detail of your trip with a fine-toothed comb and make your checklist accordingly. That way, you won’t forget anything.

Ground Rules

If a beginner’s guide to camping with kids doesn’t include this, it’s not much of a list. We all know that siblings can and do fight. To help minimize the bickering, lay down ground rules ahead of time. Things to think about include how much screen time they get, sharing items, cleaning duties, and other day-to-day living activities and chores.

Stay Organized

A disheveled campsite or RV can ruin a camping trip. That’s why organization is included in this beginner’s guide to camping with kids. You don’t want frustrated kids – or adults – scrambling to find their gear, so keep everything organized.

If you’re roughing it, clear plastic bins are a great way to keep everything contained and safe. For RV camping, ensure that everyone knows where everything in the RV should go and that they always put it back.  

Beginner’s Guide to Camping with Kids – Planning

Research Activities

The available sites and activities at any given campground are key to deciding on where to go. You’ll want to find an area that suits your family’s style. Think about things like available hiking, biking, boating, and the like, along with amenities like fire pits and outdoor grills.

Meal Planning is Key

Meal planning is an important tip in this beginner’s guide to camping with kids because, as we all know, a hungry kid is a cranky kid. Meal planning allows you to pack exactly what you need and ensure that you’re not scrambling to throw something together at the last minute.

With Cabot Cheese. I am able to meal plan throughout the week. I love that the shredded cheese comes in easy seal pouches which keeps it fresh longer so I can use it for multiple meals throughout the week.

Let the Kids Help Pick the Destination

Make the kids a part of your travel choices. They’ll be excited to know that they had a say in where the family is going for their trip. Choose 3 spots that you know the entire family will love and then let the kids discuss the options with you and your mate. Coming to a decision as a group gives the kids a real sense of being heard.

Meal Prepping

Closely related to meal planning is prepping. This works exceptionally well if you’re RV camping. Prep as much of your meal ahead of time as you can. Great options for camp food that is easily prepped include pancake mix poured into a plastic bag with a snipped in for pouring, kebabs, mini pizzas, and baked potato boats.

Campsite Activities

You won’t always be exploring the wilds on your camping trip, so it’s important to have campsite activities ready for those days when you just want to stay at the site. Great outdoor options include frisbees, balls, badminton, water guns, board games, and planned activities like scavenger hunts. 

Clothing

Check the weather in the area to which you’re traveling and pack accordingly. If you have an RV, this is fairly simple because you’ll have more space. Pack for the overall weather like a generally warm week in July, but also pack backups for things like dropping nighttime temperatures, rain, and other inclement weather. Don’t forget swim trunks, too!

Don’t Forget the Snacks

Camping activities are always outdoor related, and that means your family will need energy. Bring along lots of healthy snacks that the kids love and that also power them through their activities. Granola, granola bars, and dried fruit without added sugar are great sources of energy, and beef jerky is always a kid favorite and packed with protein.

We even made an awesome charcuterie tray with Cabot Cheese. They have a variety of cheese so you’ll definitely find some that you and your kids will enjoy.

Accept That There Will be Challenges

Perhaps one of the least talked about but most important tips on a beginner’s guide to camping with kids is acknowledging that there will be challenges. No matter how much planning you put into your trip, you’ll face issues.

These can range from exceptionally itchy bug bites to kids who suddenly decide that they’re rather stay in than go on your carefully planned excursion for the day. Accept that these will occur, and roll with the changes. After all the trip is ultimately about fun, not how much you can cram into a day.

Focus on Safety

Kids love to explore, and while camping is absolutely about that, it’s important to do it safely. Just as you established ground rules for living with one another, set rules for camp safety. Set boundaries clearly and early. Should they stay at the camp area unless accompanied by an adult or are they old enough to do some light exploration?

How close to or from the water should they stay? Think about questions like these. In addition, thoroughly examine the campsite and surrounding area for possible hazards. If you find any, show the kids and be sure they understand to stay away from them.  

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𝐂𝐡𝐚𝐧𝐠𝐞 ⁣ ⁣ Aiden loves this new RV park.⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ It’s Aiden after all, what doesn’t he love? He is such an easy going free spirited kid. ⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ He met some new friends here already. When I snapped this photo he has just said “Bye Mom, I’m going bike riding.” I managed to snag these few shots before he rode off & dissappeared 😂. ⁣I have no idea where he rode off too, but I know he is safe (check my stories to see me pull up on the kids playing, lol) PS. I would have never allowed it when we lived in a home lol. It just isn’t the same.⁣ ⁣⁣ I love how well he adapts to change and especially new places. He just goes with the flow, with not a care in the world.⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ He reminds me of myself. I’m very free spirited and go with the wind kind of person. I love change and adapt very easily to new places and new things. And I can thrive anywhere I want to.⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ 📍 Can you relate?⁣⁣ 📍What about your kids? How easily to the adapt to new things?

A post shared by Kay – Mom / RV / Homeschool (@themomtrotter) on

Beginner’s Guide to Camping with Kids – FUN

So we’ve planned, we’ve prepped, and we’ve established ground rules. We’ve even accepted that things aren’t always going to be smooth sailing. So now let’s add some fun to our beginner’s guide to camping with kids. 

Keep Things Positive

The first step to an amazing camping trip is you and your mate. Be enthusiastic and ready for fun. Always practice patience because camping with kids can come with its share of unforeseen inconveniences. Just be a duck. Let it roll off. The trip is about fun, so do your best to be the first one to embrace the experience. 

Teachable Moments

Teachable moments are everywhere when you camp. These are not the kind of teachable moments that will have your tweens and teens rolling their eyes. Rather, they’re opportunities to learn about nature, respect wildlife, and really embrace all that nature has to offer.

Do things like take flora and fauna pocket books on your hikes to identify the creatures and plant life that you come across. 

joshua tree national park with kids
Joshua Tree National Park

Embrace the Dirty

Another very important thing to remember on our beginner’s guide to camping with kids is that things will get dirty. That’s totally okay. After all, you’re camping. Understand that the entire family will probably get dirty to one degree or another. That’s just part of the experience.

To keep things sanitary, bring hand wipes with you on outings so that the kids don’t transfer the filth into their mouths. 

Tell Ghost Stories

One of the best parts of camping is telling spooky stories in the dark by the fire. Of course, if you have small children, you may want to skip this, but if you’re camping with older kids, ghost stories are a time-honored camping tradition.

Family Games

Make full use of the games and supplies we talked about earlier. Make time for board games, badminton, tag, tossing a ball, and other family-oriented activities at the camp in addition to hiking through the woods. It’s a great way to strengthen your family bond.

Keep a Video Diary

One of the best ways to record the fun is by taking a video diary. We all have smartphones, so it’s incredibly easy to do. Record footage of your outdoor adventures, campfire fun, and other activities.

All family members should also be encouraged to record their feelings about what they’ve been doing. It’s a wonderful way to look back and remember your time together. 

Bottom Line When Caming With Kids

The tips in this beginner’s guide to camping with kids is just the thing to keep your trip running smoothly from start to finish.

Of course, no matter what you do, there will be bumps in the road, and that’s okay. Remember that you’re on your trip to have fun, not stress over every little thing. So follow these tips, and get ready for an amazing camping experience.

Yosemite National Park

This post is sponsored by Cabot Creamery, however all opinions are my own.

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