Kids in Camp
Many of us love to take the family along on our trips, and for some it’s the main reason to go camping, so today we’ll look at some tips for keeping kids entertained — and safe — in camp.
A camping holiday with your kids can be lots of fun; messy and chaotic at times, but fun! With a bit of planning and packing you can ensure the whole family will enjoy a safe and smooth trip.
When packing for a trip, most people overpack, especially when you have little people insisting that they bring every toy they own. However, tempting it may be, ensure that you leave the backseat for humans only and perhaps some of their toys. Packing extras into the backseat can make it difficult for passengers to get comfortable and will definitely not be conducive to napping. And once in camp, they’re likely to find more in nature to entertain them than they’ll need things brought from home.
THINK ABOUT FIRST AID
Isolation and long distances can make accidents in camp more complicated and dangerous, so pack a good first aid kit and ensure you know how to use it with up-to-date first aid training.
It’s not just for the big stuff either; knowing how to bandage a sprain or treat a gash can keep you and your crew happy at camp longer. Most kits have tweezers, antiseptic and bandages but pack some antihistamines, Imodium, anti-inflammatories and antibacterial handwash as well.
You can’t really relax in camp until your kids have, so be sure to bring along comfy chairs, or a hammock to string up between a couple trees. You can even bring a swing to keep them amused; all you need are a plank of wood with a couple holes in it, and a tree to hang it from. A softer folding swing seat is great for toddlers or babies, letting you get on with camp chores while keeping an eye on the kids.
GET THEM INVOLVED
A bonus of having the little ones along when camping is that for them, chores can be fun! Collecting firewood, setting up camp chairs, and choosing the campsite are all fun ways for them to participate and make setup just a bit easier for you. It also gives you a chance to teach them about bush and fire safety, how to build the perfect fire and how to cook over hot coals.
Cooking can be a lot of fun for kids, and doing it outdoors means a lot less clean up. Camp oven damper is one of the easiest ways to start.
Remember though, before you head to bed for the night, to douse the coals from the fire thoroughly with water. Putting out a fire with soil may be enough for a camp full of adults, but can stay very hot all night, and is in fact the number one way that kids are burnt in camp.
STARGAZING AND SCREENTIME
After long, energetic days in the outdoors, kids need downtime. That might mean relaxing around a campfire and toasting marshmallows before cosying up to watch the stars. Arm your kids with glow-in-the-dark stargazing charts, throw down a blanket and lie back to discover the night sky and identify as many constellations as you can.
On gloomy nights, hand out torches or head torches and take your kids on a night walk to see what stalks your campground after dark. As a back-up plan — especially if the weather turns foul — settle kids down around a board game or movie screen and take a break yourself.
If you’re taking the kids off the grid, make sure you’ve planned for how you will power up any devices and packed chargers. Invest in a quality waterproof case for your electronics.
TRY A TREASURE HUNT
Kids are expert fossickers: after even a short walk along the beach or outback bushwalk, you’ll return weighed down with pockets full of treasure. Try making ‘scavenger lists’ to keep the kids busy. Alternatively, try it around your campsite, tasking the kids to identify or collect colourful leaves, rocks and seedpods, feathers and flowers, snake skins and strips of bark.
Not only does bushwalking burn lots of restless-child energy, but you can keep kids amused by choosing nature trails with interpretive signage en route, or make your own trail by pointing out natural features, birdlife or historical relics as you go.
As long as you are not camped in a national park, collecting ‘treasures’ is a great way to entertain kids in the hours before dinner, and young kids — even toddlers — will enjoy the hunt.
REMEMBER TO PACK YOUR POSITIVITY
It’s important to realise camping is not like being at home. If it were, why would we bother? The kids are going to get dirty, and you won’t always be comfortable, but if you give yourself half a chance you will be well on the track to a lifetime of laughs and family fun.
And finally, things won’t always go to plan, so don’t be too tough on yourself if your first trip isn’t perfect. Like most things in life, it can take a few stabs at it to really hit your stride.