The school year is winding down — and in some cases already over — the weather is heating up, and the kids are eager for some much-needed time outdoors. Every parent can relate to this sense of excitement that builds during May. Lucky for us, Memorial Day weekend is right around the corner. One of the most popular travel weekends of the year, these festive days offer the perfect opportunity for a family camping trip.
Many travel writers and experts have found that family travel has spiked in recent years, with more parents planning getaways together. In fact, about 70% of family travelers were planning to take one or two vacations in 2017, according to a recent AAA survey. Camping is a great mini vacation for the adventurous family, offering healthy bonding experiences and activities for all ages.
Considering packing up your tent and tarps and heading to the great outdoors with the kids? Follow these simple tips for a happier, smoother camping experience.
- Involve your kids in the planning. Make your children feel important by asking for their help during the planning process. Let them tell you about any food they want to make, games they want to try, or places they want to go. Not only will your trip benefit from all the input, but you will also be able to bond before the family camping trip even starts.
- Practice in the backyard. Sleeping in a tent for the first time can be scary, especially for little kids. Try sleeping in your tent in the backyard for the night to let your kids learn what to expect. Don’t have a backyard? Ask a friend if you can use theirs, or mimic the outdoors by pitching your tent and rolling out some sleeping bags in the living room. See more here.
- Teach your little ones basic camping safety. Be sure to tell your kids how to behave around the campfire, what to do if they see an animal, and other aspects of camping safety. Plan a meeting spot if anyone gets separated, and consider carrying walkie-talkies with you at all times.
- Plan activities ahead of time. Nothing is worse than running out of ideas to entertain a bored and cranky child. To avoid this mini crisis, come prepared with crafts, sports equipment, and instructions for outdoor games. There are plenty of creative camping activity ideas around the internet, so be sure to do research beforehand.
- Connect with other families. If you have family friends with kids, consider inviting them to come along on your camping trip. Your own children will be thrilled to have friends to play with, and you will have adults to spend time with as well. Even if you choose to camp without other families, you will likely meet other families camping nearby when your kids meet friends while running around the campground.
Childhood camping is one of the most memorable experiences, often turning a child into a lifelong camper and outdoor enthusiast. Studies show that of current campers, 85% took their first trip between birth and age 15. Not only that, but 57% of campers were avid outdoor activity participants as children, while only a quarter of non-campers spent time outdoors as kids.
By exposing your children to the outdoors now, you will teach them to love nature. This enthusiasm will lead to healthy recreational habits in the future, for both your child and the entire family. So pack your tent and have a blast this Memorial Day weekend. Your little ones will thank you!