Camping is a wonderful way to explore the great outdoors. Spending a night sleeping underneath the stars is an ideal way to escape city life for a weekend and see some beautiful parts of the natural world.
Of course, we want to enjoy the experience with the whole family and spend some quality time together. However, the thought of sleeping in a tent or going somewhere without a TV may not be appealing to children. So how can you keep the kids happy while camping?
From our experience over the years, we’ve learnt some great ways to keep the children happy while camping.
Prepare Games and Activities
Wherever you are camping, there are some great games you can incorporate into your trip using nature. Of course, the games will vary for different ages but here are some of our tip suggestions for those who are under about the age of 12.
Treasure Hunt – Woodland areas are a super place for a treasure hunt! Find some photos on the internet before you leave and print them out so the children can have a photo to match up with what they find. You could also hide some treats for them in the forest or some odd fun things for them to use later, such as glow sticks.
Be sure to create some rules. For example, they can only go a certain distance and they only have one hour, or half an hour to find everything. If you have multiple children you can either make it a competition or have them work together. If you’re stuck for things to find, you can find scavenger hunt sheets online to print out.
An alternative to the traditional treasure hunt is a digital one. This is ideal for exploring nature and leaving it untouched. For example, if you want the kids to find certain types of trees or flowers but don’t want them to disrupt the natural environment — plus they can’t carry a whole tree! — they can simply take photos of the things they have found. This way they also have a souvenir collection of photos of everything they’ve discovered.
Camping Olympics – With the Rio 2016 Olympics getting ever closer, this is a great way to get the kids enthusiastic about the games. It’s also a really fun way for the whole family to get active! You can do some simple Olympic games: the long jump (using sticks as a measure), a short sprint and hurling (throwing a ball will do). You can get everyone to give scores and declare a winner at the end.
Ghost Stories – As the sun begins to go down, huddle around your campfire or outdoor oven and let the ghost stories commence! If you know a story or can make one up on the spot that’s great, if not you could bring a book with you. The best way to tell stories is to make sure it’s atmospheric. Tell the story slowly, creating anticipation when a scary moment is about to come!
If the kids are a bit young for that, bring one of their favourite books to read around the campfire. Harry Potter is always a camping favourite!
Draw What You See – This one is good for younger kids. The camping environment is full of colours and parts of nature they may not see regularly. Bring lots of coloured pencils and paper and they can draw new animals they find or the different trees and mountains. They can show all their friends when they go back to school.
Scattergories – Sometimes the inevitable can happen on a camping trip: rain! When it rains, you need some backup activities which you can play inside your tent, of course only if you have a good waterproof tent. Scattergories is a brilliant and fun indoor game. All you need is paper and pencils.
- Write every letter of the alphabet on separate pieces of paper and place them face down so you can’t see what they are.
- Give everyone a big piece of paper. At the top write some categories such as animals, food, films, colours etc. Everyone must write the same categories.
- Randomly pick a piece of paper with a letter of the alphabet on. Everyone must then think of something in each category beginning with that letter. For example, the letter B. Animal = Bird, Food = Blueberry, Film = Back to the Future, Colour = Blue.
- You have one minute to write all your answers secretly. After one minute, everyone reveals their answer. You get two points for each answer, but, if two people have the same answer you only get one point! You can do it as many times as you want with different categories.
The person with the most points at the end wins. Kids will love it and gives them a chance to think creatively about different categories.
Cook Some Delicious Homemade Food
As well as games, if your children have full bellies then they are sure to be happy on your camping trip! Although you may initially think it’s difficult to cook up some great meals while camping, think again. If you find a great outdoor oven you’ll be surprised what you can cook. Finding the right cooking equipment means you can cook a pizza, paella, jacket potato, crumpets and much more right outside your tent! Put some fresh ingredients in a cool box and you can cook your kid’s favourite meal! You can even get them to join in making the pizzas or baking some cookie dough. Getting kids involved in making the food is exciting and, somehow, makes it even more delicious when they eat it afterwards!
Be sure to pack the marshmallows too, as no camping trip is complete without roasting marshmallows over the campfire! A happy stomach can go a long way to having a great camping trip!