Camping With Kids

by Bruce Watts
Bruce showing a toad to Aubrey
Bruce showing a toad to Aubrey

As a father I discovered something my father knew, ALL kids like nature and camping.

No matter how young,  children totally explode with joy when touching mud, splashing in ponds and absorbing the drama of a centipede crossing a leaf.

Campologists know the great outdoors is a place where the kiddies thrive, flourish, grow and learn. Its not a scary, dark and dreary place at all unless YOU make it that way!

Tracy with children Erica & James ...and Archie the dog - Adirondack Mountains 1996Tracy with children Erica & James ...and Archie the dog - Adirondack Mountains 1996My parents took me camping 4-8 weeks every year, my dear wife and I took our kids camping at every opportunity, we now have the privilege of camping with our grandchildren. Whether by car, canoe, or backpacking ... from mountain tops, river valleys and sunny beaches ... it's all good!

It's really very simple, there are only 4 basic tricks to a successful camping trip with kids.

4 tips when camping with kids:

  1. Positive Attitude - This is so very important. If you are a grumpy mumpy, the kids will be grumpy mumpies!  Kids are innocent blank slates thirsting for knowledge and positive role models - they simply mock their folks. So HAPPY positive attitudes are very contagious ... absolutely NO WHINING!
  2. Knowledge and Skills - You need to know how to camp. If you don't, the whole experience could be a disaster, cold, wet or even dangerous. So start out with baby steps. The nearby car camping location can be great. In Ontario we are lucky. The provincial parks are excellent, and provide a variety of camping experiences. Pick a day with great weather and a season with few bugs. This will reduce the chances of problems. As you learn more and gain experience, stretch out the seasons, and lengthen the distances from civilization. Experiences will be richer the further you are from civilization ... however only if you have the knowledge and skills.camping erica jamesJames, Bruce & Erica - Algonquin Park, 1995
  3. The Right Gear  - When your tent leaks, the sleeping bag is cold, and your clothing seems always wet... you likely have the wrong gear. I don't recommend expensive gear, however you do want stuff good enough to make the experience comfortable. This is the consumers magic puzzle. I would recommend you read all you can, and then head down to a local quality outdoor retailer. They should point you in the right direction.  Don't buy cheap! It will likely be wasted money.
  4. Understand What Kids Like - If you have only camped with adults this may be a challenge. If you are a rookie parent this could be difficult. In order to make camping a wonderful ride for both adult and child the following is likely the most important thing ... you MUST MUST camp, trek and paddle at the pace of the kids. If they want to stop and look at a worm for 15 minutes do it. If they want to paddle upside down let them. Most important, their attention spans are just a little longer than a fruit fly, so keep them busy with games, activities, songs and stories. Be prepared!

The bottom line - if you want to go long and hard leave the kids at home. However if you want to share one of the best experiences on the planet with your children... slow, easy and fun is the trick... It's really child's play!


Campologist Talk

A blog for campers by campers. Bruce is the primary contributor, with regular posts from Tracy and friends.