The summer is nearly upon us (hopes, wishes, prayers!), and our thoughts turn to long hot summer holidays. Camping with children is a rose-tinted idea - perhaps something we enjoyed ourselves as children, or something we wish for our own offspring – but what is camping with children like in reality? Is it an adventure too far, will you be pulling your hair out at the end of the trip and be exhausted from sleepless nights? If you use our five top tips for camping with children, we hope not! It’s very rare to hear a child say “no” to camping especially when it involves roasting marshmallows, sleeping under the stars and swimming. Camping with your little ones and getting back to basics can be a deeply enriching experience for the whole family, and we hope that these tips help make it that special experience it can so easily be…1) Planning Ahead
Most miserable camping scenarios can be avoided with the right preparation. Begin by choosing your campsite carefully and making reservations, if necessary. A good site is dry, sheltered from the wind and within easy walking distance of fun attractions. Setting out early in the morning gives kids a sense of purpose and guarantees they will still have plenty of energy when you arrive. Fumbling around in the dark with grumpy, hungry children who have yet to see any fun is the worst way to begin camping and can set a sour mood for the rest of your stay. Pack snacks because setting up camp with hungry children is neither fun nor productive!2) Bring Plenty of Entertainment
Don’t assume that all kids will see a grass field, run off and immediately have the capacity to self-entertain for three days. Wouldn’t that be nice! As with all holidays, having a good selection of toys, magazines, books and home comforts with you will be invaluable for keeping the children happy and entertained during the evenings (and in case of rain). If you take powered devices make sure you have enough batteries or means to recharge them. For outdoor adventures remember to take crab lines, buckets and spades, bug safari kits, bicycles, footballs, kites, tennis racquets and whatever else your family enjoy playing together!3) Consider Clothing and How to Stay Warm
This might sound obvious- but if you’re camping then it’s likely that you’ll be spending quite a lot of time outdoors. When you’re at home you aren’t usually outside for long stretches of time without returning to the warmth of indoors, and so when packing to go camping with kids (particularly in the unreliable climate of the UK!), remember lots of layers and warm clothing including thick socks, waterproof jackets and thermals. Tents lack insulation and so do not provide the heating components of home, meaning its crucial to keep warm with lots of layering. Don’t forget to take blankets too so that children can snuggle up at night and sit under the stars without getting too chilly- nothing beats telling campfire stories with a steaming cup of hot chocolate watching for shooting stars!4) Give Them Responsibility
Before you leave home, let your children pack a little bag each themselves with things in they would like to bring. Giving your children extra responsibilities and trusting them with ‘jobs’ around camp will not only help you out but will help them learn about camping and give them something to do. Holding the pegs, hammering them in and sourcing water, wood and cooking toast over the fire are all jobs kids love to help with.5) Safety and Security
When you arrive at your campsite, walk around it with your children as soon as you can so that they can get their bearings and you can tell them which areas are in and out of bounds to them. Mark your tent with bunting, flags or coloured lights that lets them know it’s yours and put bells on the zips of your tent so you can easily hear little ones coming and going. It’s also a good idea to put glowsticks or solar lights by the tent ropes so they can be seen in the dark and people don’t trip over them pulling them out. Torches are invaluable items to bring on any camping trip (and especially important for finding your way to the toilet block in the dark!) but make sure you pack spare batteries too. Make sure that your kids’ clothing is all labelled with iron on labels which include your phone number – just in case the children lose their way and can’t find your tent again. Peace of mind is invaluable.
When camping with children you have to be prepared for scraped knees, rosy cheeks, unexpected rain showers, hungry bellies and lots of smiles. If you and your children have an open mind and a sense of adventure, camping this summer with the whole family can lead to exciting new adventures and amusing stories that will be told around campfires for years to come. Tell us all about your top tips for camping with children over on our Facebook to share with our vibrant My Name Label community!