20 Ideas to Keep the Kids Happy While Camping
It happens to many parents: the family camping trip starts out well enough, but not even a day into it the kids complain of being bored.
It’s important to realize that while camping may be a great adventure for you, depending on your kids’ ages and preferences, they may not be as thrilled. Unless you have a mini camping enthusiast on your hands, it’s best to be prepared in case you start hearing cries of boredom.
Here are 20 ways to keep kids happy while camping.
- Let them entertain you with a story. Children are creative and most enjoy making up their own stories, so give your kids a turn making up a camping tale. For instance, ask them what they think their favorite stuffed animal or doll would do if it ran out of marshmallows to roast. You’ll be quite surprised what types of funny things kids come up with when given the task of storytelling.
- Bring along some coloring books and pages, especially those related to nature. This is a great tactic with younger children, toddlers, and preschoolers, who typically love coloring. If your kids like watercolors more, bring along a portable non-toxic and washable set, some cups, and a few cloths so they can get crafty if boredom strikes. For older children and teens, don’t rule out coloring. Give them some slimline markers or colored pencils and a book with more intricate drawings.
- Prepare a scavenger hunt. Kids typically enjoy the challenge, and if its a campground you haven’t been to before they’ll see it as a new place to explore. Prepare a list of items for them to find before your trip, such as specific leaves, shells, pine cones, or items of a certain color. It’s a great idea to do a photo scavenger hunt and give the kids cameras to take pictures, especially if its an area that’s best left undisturbed. Otherwise, give each child a cloth sack, a list, and let them head off on the hunt.
- Don’t forget the guidebooks. If you’ll be in an area with interesting native birds, plants, or wildlife, bring guides along so your kids can be on the lookout for them. This works best if they read the material before your trip, so they’ll build up anticipation and grow an interest in the flora and fauna they may get to see at the campsite.
- Look into whether the campground has an explorers program for kids. This is particularly common in National Parks, and you can typically find free booklets and activities online. Some programs will allow kids to earn a free entry to the camp site, a badge, or prize for completing certain tasks.
- Make up fun games. Races, eye spy, and camping bingo are just a few options.
- Bring on the competition if it will keep your kids from fighting, complaining, or getting bored. For instance, see who can gather the most wood or put out their sleeping bag the fastest.
- Encourage your kids to create art with any acorns or similar items that they can find. If they bring along some cord, neat little pieces of jewelry can even be made.
- Let your kids collect a rock each, have some paints on hand, and let them decorate the rocks. It will keep them occupied and provide a unique memento of the trip.
- Make an explorer kit that contains items such as binoculars, guide pamphlets, and a digital camera.
- Bring along a few blank tees, eco-friendly dye, rubber bands, and do some tie-dyeing at the campsite.
- Don’t forget to bring plenty of books if you have avid readers. Surprise them with a new title from their favorite series or a picture book about camping.
- Spice up your normal camping routine. For instance, if you normally have hot dogs when you go camping, make campfire pizzas instead. Switching up small details can make a difference and ward off boredom in kids.
- Bring some glow sticks. You’ll be amazed what types of games kids will come up with for these, and you can get them inexpensively at most dollar stores.
- Teach your kids about geocaching before the camping trip and let them get some experience with it once you’re at the campground.
- Put a camera in your kids’ hands. Just doing this one thing can spark a child’s imagination and encourage them to explore the world around them in new ways. Plus, your family could end up with some great footage of the trip.
- Get a bug catcher if your kids are into animals or science. As long as they’re schooled on how to stay safe when it comes to insects at the campsite, they’ll have a blast.
- Have some tech on hand. Yes, the goal should be for them to enjoy nature and being with family, but if watching a movie or their favorite show for half an hour will keep the peace, it’s well worth it.
- Get them involved in the cooking. You’ll need to take safety precautions and choose easy recipes, but cooking around the campfire is a way to get kids interested and occupied. This can be a great ideas if you use some easy camping meals.
- Make a deal. If you have a child that you know will complain if there’s not a good incentive, make an offer that they’ll be unlikely to refuse. For instance, you can offer an extra smore or the chance to get a new book after the trip as long as there are no complaints. This may seem like a desperate move at first, but it can also make your trip much more enjoyable when all is said and done.
If you need even a couple more ideas, check out this video.
Hopefully this is helpful in making sure that help your kids beat boredom and enjoy the great outdoors.