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Activity and Safety Tips for Camping with Kids

By Edited Jul 10, 2016 2 5

“Any natural place contains an infinite reservoir of information, and therefore the potential for inexhaustible new discoveries.” –Richard Louv, Last Child in the Woods

Camping with Kids

Giving your kids the experience of camping, even if just for the weekend, will be a gift that lasts a lifetime for your children, more so than any of the latest gadget they’ve been begging for. Here are some tips for making camping with kids successful and safe.

Don't Over Plan

You don't need to make a daily schedule and try to hit every vista point and hiking trail. Take it easy and only plan one major activity a day. It's ok if that major camping activity is only a 20-minute hike. You're in nature with leaves to collect, trees to explore, and bugs to study. There's little need to even leave your campsite.

Bring Active and Interactive Games

Bring activities such as sports equipment and board games that require movement, invention, and social play. Leave the gadgets at home and get involved with nature and each other.
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Meals are an Event

When camping with kids, cooking breakfast, lunch, and dinner are all major tasks. Do plan for that and enjoy the process with your kids. If you are new to camping with kids, then you will find that camp cooking is something you have to learn through trial and error. Laugh at the badly cooked hotdogs and bring some extra food. Also, make the meal planning simple, hotdogs and hamburgers are perfect camping food.

Poison Oak and Poison Ivy

You don't need to fear poison oak or ivy. You do need to educate your kids about staying on trails where these plants grow and how to identifying these plants. If you don't know what these plants look like, then ask the ranger to teach you and your kids how to avoid these plants.

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Camping with Bears and other Wildlife

Like the poison oak and ivy, there's no need to fear the bears and other wildlife if you are educated on good camper safety. Part of camping with kids is learning and teaching to share the natural resources with nature. Do not feed any wildlife, even the squirrels and birds. Keep your camp clean at all times. Keep food and garbage locked in the bear proof containers provided. If you see a bear, get loud and big. Yell at the bear to leave, bang objects, and pick up small children. Ask the ranger for more wildlife safety tips for your campsite and practice these tips with your kids.

First Aid Kit

Do bring a first aid kit with the basics of band-aids, antiseptic, and other supplies. And if your kids come to you with minor bumps and bruises, scrapes and scratches, then you are doing camping with kids just right. They got those scrapes and scratches from being part of nature.

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Set Up a Perimeter

There are no fences at campsites. And although you want your kids to explore and feel free, you do need to set limits based on their age and maturity. To keep kids who need more supervision within eyesight of the campsite or camping trailer, bring orange cones (you can buy these at a sports store) and set up a perimeter. Explain that they are not to go past the cones without an adult.

Fire Safety

There should be some very stringent rules regarding activities around the campfire, whether it is lit or not. Ashes can still be hot and cause burns should a child trip and fall into the campfire. Kids should only be near the campfire if sitting. Teach them that they can walk only behind the campfire chairs or seats and not in the path between the seats and campfire pit. And never any running, skipping, hopping, or playing near the fire pit.

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Jun 22, 2011 9:31am
All really great tips and I have employed most of them! This is a terrific list to have for someone camping with kids. Well done.
Jun 29, 2011 4:19pm
thnaks fo rnice tips
Jul 5, 2011 8:29pm
I love articles that involve spending time with, or teaching children about the great outdoors. Leave the video games at home. Camping is a great way to connect with your children. But involve them. Be their coach, and let them take an active role in projects around the campsite, like building a campfire. Giving them a big role around the campsite will make it as memorable of an event for them, as it will for you. Thanks
Jul 7, 2011 12:50am
Thanks everyone! I think every child should have the opportunity to spend a weekend (or two or three) entirely outdoors. Glad you enjoyed the article.
Aug 13, 2011 10:44am
Great article and great tips for keeping kids safe while camping. Since children can face the risk of getting lost from family and friends while camping, it is important to also teach them about stanger safety in the event they would get separated from their families. It is important to teach children to take a proactive role in staying safe from abduction and exploitation.

A book entitled, What Would You Do? A Kid's Guide to Staying Safe in a World of Strangers by Melissa Harker Ridenour, is a good resource for keeping children safe. The book empowers children to take a proactive role in staying safe from abduction or predator harm. It explains the concept of "stranger" to children in a very reassuring way.

The book also includes a chapter for parents, teachers and other child caregivers. It is available through the publisher, Headline Kids, and through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, Ingrams, Follett, and Baker and Taylor.

Check out my book website, Melissa Harker Ridenour Books, at www.AuthorMelissaHarkerRidenour.com. Also consider commenting and subscribing to my Child Safety Blog at http://childsafety-melissa.blogspot.com.
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