My childhood was full of camping trips around British Columbia with hours spent exploring the forest and surrounding lakes. Looking back, that was really where my care and respect for the environment began. My parents taught me that we packed out what we packed in and how to be good neighbours to the flora and fauna we were visiting.
As travel restrictions lift and we can start to wriggle our toes outside of our backyards, we know many in our community are looking forward to summer camping trips! But, camping with kids isn’t always the easiest activity. I know my parents loved our trips together but they took good preparation and planning to make sure things went smoothly. We asked our Tradle parents and did some research to bring you the best camping with kids tips before the Canada Day long weekend.
1. Do a test run
Set up a tent in the backyard and try it out! This will help get your little ones comfortable with the experience and you can sort out any unanticipated hiccups in a low-stakes environment.
2. Prep snacks ahead of time
While this will feel like a pain in the ass as you’re doing it - this will save you a ton of time when you’re in the middle of a fun activity or outing and don’t have to run back and forth to get snacks. Prepping ahead of time also allows you to reduce your waste by using reusable containers and buying in bulk rather than individually packaged snacks.
3. Bring lots of wipes!
Spills and messes follow kids wherever they go and the great outdoors is no exception. For a low waste alternative to single-use baby wipes, throw a bag together of washable cloths and dip in water before cleaning up the latest whoopsie.
4. Let kids get involved with the camp setup
Giving your littles age-appropriate tasks with camp setup helps them feel involved and proud of the temporary home you’re creating together. Some simple tasks are gathering kindling for the fire, wiping the picnic table down, setting up a table cloth or unfolding camp chairs around the fire pit.
5. Ditch flashlights for headlamps
Flashlights are a must but they can get lost easily or hard to handle while managing bedtime activities. Headlamps are much more convenient and make for an extra level of fun for a before-bed game of flashlight tag.
6. Plan a forest scavenger hunt
My favourite camping activity was always a scavenger hunt. My mom would give me a list of things like pinecones, a 4-leaf clover or a black and white rock and I would have so much fun searching around to complete the list. I also remember there may have been a special camping treat (or two… you can’t only have one s’more!) after I had finished the hunt.
Photo: Edventures with Kids
7. Audiobooks for bedtime or downtime
Getting outdoors is a great opportunity to leave the screens behind and unplug as a family. That being said, keeping your kids entertained all day, especially the younger ones will be exhausting on top of all the camp set up and extra tasks. Audiobooks with bedtime stories are a great way to make bedtime easy while keeping their imaginations alive.
8. Prep for cold mornings
Within the heat of summer, the cool camping mornings always hit me by surprise. A great trick I learned at Girl Guides was to pack tomorrow’s outfit into the bottom of your sleeping bag so that it stays warm overnight and you don’t have to pull on a chilly sweater when you’re getting up early.
9. Don’t forget the first aid kit
There’s bound to be a little cut, scrape or sunburn happen throughout your trip. Make sure to bring a fully stocked first aid kit and some aloe vera to be prepared for anything and everything!
While camping with kids can feel daunting, the memories you make will last a lifetime and bring your children closer to nature and each other. Share any of your best tips and hacks in the comments below.
With any Canada Day celebrations you enjoy with your loved ones, we encourage you to take time to reflect on Canada’s past and learn more about the history of Indigenous peoples that many of us were not taught in school. Check out this piece with resources for sharing the message of truth and reconciliation in Canada with your kids.