Don’t want to hear “I’m bored” the next time you go camping with the kids? I have created five tips that will not only entertain your children, but make your next camping trip a positive experience for the whole family. Having the right preparation and perspective can help a family reconnect and have fun too.
5 Ways to Entertain Kids on a Camping Trip
Find out what kind of campground you should look for and what kind of things you should bring along with you.
1. Entertain With Locations That Have Benefits:
One of the most important things to keep in mind when camping with kids is location. Campgrounds have begun adding all kinds of built in adventure right inside their campground gates. In many cases your nightly camping fees already cover these extras. One example that I’ve seen often, are swimming pools and many campgrounds are going one step further with kiddy pools and water slides.
If you have one that loves splashing in the water this is a sure bet for lots of fun and hours of entertainment. In addition to pools, some campgrounds have added things like miniature and frisbee golf courses, nature and interpretive centers, hiking, biking, horse trails, beach access, fishing, state of the art playground equipment, big outdoor movie screens, and even zoos.
Of course many families including myself have location shopped our campground selections by not only what was inside the campground, but also what was within just a few miles of where we were camping. Making trips to distant theme parks, aquariums, museums, and other areas of the country have caused us to search for campgrounds instead of expensive hotel rooms. We have the bonus of an out of the campground adventure (which we sometimes keep as a surprise) and still have all the other benefits of family camping too.
2. Entertain With Play and Story Time:
As adults we sometimes wish we could just sit around and do nothing, but for a child this is “boring”. Begin looking at your child’s age, maturity, and interests before selecting where to camp. Having a story time and family devotions together are wonderful time passers while camping. For younger kids that still enjoy playing I would encourage you to bring along a few toys.
Here are some simple rules to remember when considering a toy:
- Always consider if you have room for an item before agreeing to bring it.
- Don’t bring any toys that cause undue stress, and consider if it is something they should be playing with in a campground environment.
- A common play toy that my family will consider is a scooter; we have the kind that can be folded down and easily packed in with all our other gear.
- With any kind of riding toy you want to look at the layout of the campground and view any pictures they may have up on their web site to determine if a riding toy is a good idea or not.
- You want to know in advance if scooters or bikes can to be easily rode or if everything is gravel covered.
- Some other good toys to consider may be card games, board games, small baby dolls, cars and trucks, and any kind of sports balls that they could play with in an open area.
Of course if you are short on packing space there is still hope. Look and see if the campground has an available site next to the playground equipment. Children can go over and play during mom and dad’s quite time and still be easily supervised from your camp chair while they play.
3. Entertain With “Gourmet” Cooking
One of the most anticipated parts of my family’s camping trips are s’mores and roasted wieners over an open fire. I know it sounds so simple, but the classics are classic for a reason. In my family we don’t eat a lot of hot dogs and for sure not marshmallows and chocolate covered graham crackers. When my family is camping we always finds a special time for this special treat.
If you’re not a master at building the perfect fire, don’t worry about it, we have had some pitiful fires that were very short lived, but it doesn’t take very long to roast a hot dog or marshmallow. With all that said, sometimes the gourmet is less about fire or food and more about adventure. If your children are anything like my oldest daughter a picnic is always entertaining. It honestly doesn’t matter what you pack for food.
It is more about the excitement of carrying a packed lunch and blanket to this unknown location for a great outdoors dining adventure. With older children perhaps it would be fun for them to help with some meals they design and cook all by themselves or with your help.
No matter what stage your children are in when it comes to food it seems to be a bonding tool for families so use this time to connect. Even with diet limitations “gourmet” cooking can still happen while family camping; smore’s and wiener treats even come in a vegan version too.
4. Entertain With New Responsibilities:
Children love to feel like they are in charge of something. They enjoy being a helper and not just a little kid. Camping can lend itself to responsibilities you can hand down to your child. Campground responsibilities are like lighthearted chores. Setting up of the camping tent can be part of their fun: having little ones place the tent stacks on the ground next to each corner of the tent is fun for them and handy for you.
Also, with most campgrounds having water spouts at each camping site you can have them be in charge of the collection of water for you to pour over the fire pit once the fire has gone out. I know that my youngest daughter loves to play in the water at home and one of her exciting responsibilities could be the filling up of our used water bottles for me to put over the fire pit. You can also assign responsibilities like holding the leash of an easy going dog while you both walk around the campground.
Some kids absolutely love being in charge of helping set up the table cloth and getting out drinks for everyone. One of the responsibilities my youngest son enjoys the most is holding the flashlight for me as we walk to the bathroom after dark. The point here is to make it fun. They are getting to do a grown up like task in a light hearted setting. If they end up playing in the water for a couple minutes while they collect it for the fire pit do not come and take over.
Don’t worry about them getting it perfect if you see them struggling with a task simply say “if you need any help just let me know” and come along and help if the ask you to. As parents we want to guide and help our children develop and there is no better way to do this then through practice. Try to remember to always thank them for their efforts, give compliments if the job was well done, and give guidance if they have gotten overwhelmed or distracted.
5. Entertain With Escape In Mind:
We know that despite all the details being perfectly planned out we sometimes get hit with unexpected rain clouds, or even a child that has gotten up on the wrong side of the sleeping bag. Having the previously mentioned toys, the bible and other books to read together can help pass many hours of a not so ideal day in the campground.
Several rainy days can make you feel trapped, but if you pack a few dollar store ponchos and an extra pair of shoes for everyone you can still explore. With most campgrounds offering hot showers it isn’t such a big deal if you do a little bit of puddle splashing if everyone has had their fill of board games and reading. I had mentioned earlier that we sometimes use camping as our lodging when we go to other areas of the country for museums and different activities.
Rainy days and grumpy kids sometimes are resolved by simply packing up into the car and going into town and finding something different to do. Most of the time we plan on cooking and eating at the campground, but there is nothing wrong with checking out the local area for something to do and eat and make it a family outing day.
If you do your research, you can usually find something free or fairly cheap to do in most areas. On trips with limited budgets we have even went and walked around in a couple stores and brought back ice cream fixings and a movie rental we could watch on our portable DVD player together.
Entertaining kids during a camping trip can not only ease the pains of a child that claims they are “bored,” but it helps create lasting memories for everyone in the family. Camping allows us to step away from the everyday responsibilities like work and school and helps us to spend time growing in familial and spiritual areas of life.
I encourage you to plan your next camping trip soon and make time for the truly important things in life. Remember to find a campground that has lots of benefits built in with your camping fee. Bring some toys, books, games, ponchos and extra shoes to help the hours pass on rainy days.
Prepare to have your child’s confidence blossom as they hold flashlights and tent stakes for you, and plan on a special surprise adventure or treat to make the camping trip even better.
I look forward to hearing how these 5 tips have helped you and your kids enjoy your next camping trip ~ Blessings to you and yours!