Like everyone, our weekends are full of running errands, DIY home projects and trying to get stuff done (plus taking the occasional nap, doncha know!) Scheduling a time down to travel some place to go camping can seem useless if you’re going to get there late at night, and have to leave the next evening anyway. Or, it’s just a bad time and you don’t have the money to spend on gas and park fees this weekend. But you really want to get your kids out practicing those self-reliance skills you always read about. Don’t let the lack of time…or money….stop you from creating those moments that can help create a more self-reliant kid!
This past weekend, we did just that. We’d recently gotten some camping equipment on clearance at Aldi, had a free evening/morning, and decided to toss the kids into the backyard and let them have at it! We gave them a minimum amount of supervision, but basically had them do their thing. They went shopping for their supplies for supper ( we were woefully out of marshmallows for the fire pit), had them set up their own tents and get their supplies for the night because they weren’t allowed back in once we sent them out, and they set the agenda.
Then we had them set up the campfire. We weren’t planning on cooking a major meal, so this one was just going to be for the evening’s ambience and marshmallow roast. They used the grill to make dinner.
Yes, we collect those cardboard drink carriers. They make awesome firestarters for home. That way, we save the pre-made firestarters for when we actually NEED them.
The kids then spent the evening around the firepit, sharing stories, reading Tolkein and roasting marshmallows. Once it was bedtime, somewhere around 1AM I’m told (I slept soundly inside!), they had done their perimeter check, secured their area, and slept until this:
This was a great way to have a safe way to practice some of their skills even if we couldn’t take them out to the wilderness. It also created some great family memories.
5 Great Tips for Camping with Kids
Plan your trip/event together. Let your kids help in deciding where to go and how much they want to tackle. Involving them makes it less like a chore and more like something they actually get to control.
Teach them by guidance. Show them how, but make sure they’re doing as much as they can on their own with your guidance. They learn best by doing. And while it seems faster for us to just do it ourselves sometimes, we’re not really encouraging practice and mastery of skill and allowing them to make mistakes and learn from them if we take over to just get it done.
Have activities to do. Once you get camp set up, eaten some hot dogs, roasted some marshmallows… now what? Plan activities to help generate more love of learning and a sense of bonding. Play flashlight tag if you know the area well. Do constellation ID. Tell stories. Plan hikes. Go fishing. Plan a scavenger hunt. Just don’t overplan their time.
Let them be free. With so much scheduling, so much hovering and so much being done for them, kids can lose the ability to just be free. Let them loose with some guidelines, and let them be free. Teach them safety guidelines beforehand, sure, but then let them roam and explore.
Start small. If your’e not ready to tackle a week in the wilderness, start small. We had our kids sleeping in the living room in pup tents when they were wee little things. It made for a fun night, and introduced the concept early on. Then move to the backyard. This is easy for them to accomplish on their own, without you, once they’ve learned the basic safety guidelines and you’re comfortable with their skill level. You can always sleep on the couch near the backdoor to be near, if you need to 🙂
And as always…be safe.
Find more camping & outdoor activities to do with kids on Pinterest.
Here are some just a few of the skills you can pracatice while you’re out camping in the comfort and safety of your own backyard:
- Using an emergency toilet
- Building a portable brick rocket stove and cooking on it
- Practice cooking over alternative methods or cooking with what you can find
- Learning how to start a fire and learning alternative methods to create one or collect
- Having fun without electronics
- Mastering the use of a water filter
- Getting use to alternative sources of light
- Learning to live out of your bug out/emergency/get home bag
There are so many benefits…but the greatest is the fact that you are spending time as a family, creating precious memories, and instilling a love of nature, teaching survival skills for whatever might come their way, and creating more self-reliant kids.
YOUR THOUGHTS: What are some of your tips for camping out with kids?
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