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Let’s face it: camping with kids can be intimidating.

But getting the family together outdoors has enough benefits to make it worth the effort. Not only will you be giving them stories to tell for decades to come, your children will gain a first hand appreciation of nature along with new skills and confidence. With the right preparation and mindset, you can experience camping with your kids with as little stress as possible.

So what can you do to make sure your family camping trip is fun for both you and your kids?


Let your kids help prepare!

A mom is helping her youngling in a tent


A successful camping trip starts with the right preparation. Getting your kids involved during the planning stages will get them excited for the trip and build critical thinking skills.

You can even let them choose your campsite from a few options you’ve chosen. Discuss the pros and cons of each site together. Whether you are pinning your next campsite on your push pin travel map or doing internet research together as a family, giving your kids a say in where to go next will make the family camping trip special for them.

Once you choose a campsite, involve the children in packing their own gear to cultivate independence and teach them to plan ahead. Giving each kid their own color bag helps keep things organized.

Provide a checklist and have them pack their own essentials. Explain why each item is necessary. Once they get the hang of it, packing for future trips will be easier. Just make sure to double check their work!


Do a practice run.

A family associating in front of a lake


Sleeping outdoors can be scary for some kids. If you’re unsure how your child may react to the experience of a family camping trip, it’s a good idea to do a test run.

Set your tent or camper up at home and have a family sleepover for a night. Trying it out with home nearby helps reduce any anxiety they might be feeling about camping for the first time.

Make the test run as real as possible and include traditional camping activities like storytelling, sing-alongs, and marshmallow roasting. If your kids see that you can be comfortable under the stars with the sounds of nocturnal wildlife around you, they will be more comfortable too.

After having so much fun on your backyard camping trip, your kids will be thrilled and ready to do the real thing.


Plan activities to keep them busy.

A small boy learning to build a fire


Nothing is worse to hear on a family camping trip than, “I’m bored.”

Plan your campsite activities ahead of time. Swimming, hiking, nature watching, fishing, and kayaking can be fun for the whole family and introduce children to the thrills of the great outdoors.

You can also engage your children by teaching them camping basics. Show them how to choose a tent site, set up the tent, and start a fire. You never know, your family camping trip could inspire a lifelong love of travel and the outdoors!

When your children start to miss home or get bored, be ready with toys and activities from home like books, games, sports equipment, and art supplies. Keeping some of their favorites packed as a surprise might even be enough to dodge a meltdown right before it happens.

Even though electronics are usually frowned upon on a family camping trip, don’t beat yourself up if you need to pull out the iPad for a few minutes of peace and quiet. Your kids enjoying a little screen time won’t ruin the trip.


Use it as an educational opportunity.

A child and parent hiking


A family camping trip is the best opportunity to teach your children about the natural wonders of the world.

Giving them an up-close, hands-on experience with the different rocks, animals, and plants around them will create memories they will never forget.

Camping is also an opportunity to teach them how to explore nature respectfully. Emphasize the “Leave No Trace” philosophy and explain why it is important not to litter or disturb wildlife you find on your family camping trip.

Once the whole family has a clear understanding of what to expect on the family camping trip, it will turn from a stressful situation into a cherished family memory. Your little travelers will one day set off to see the world on their own, so enjoy the opportunities for trips together while you can.


Ready to make some memories with your family? Great! But before you head out, download our free checklist that will help your kids learn to pack for the trip!