Camping is hard. It’s messy. You get dirty. It’s work. So why on earth would you want to throw kids into the mix when you’re already away from home, out of your comfort zone, and roughing it in nature? If camping alone is hard work, then why the heck take your kids camping with you?
Because it’s fun!
I tell you, nothing beats sitting around the campfire, making up stories with your kids as they roast marshmallows over the fire. And you and your kids will make memories that will last them a lifetime. I didn’t grow up camping, but as soon as I married my husband, we bought two sleeping bags and a tent and started going on little impromptu campouts on the side of the road in the Utah mountains. 18 years and 5 kids later and we still go camping regularly.
Taking your kids camping is an excellent way to unplug from the world, commune with nature, enjoy a little solitude, and connect as a family.
Being in nature is awe-inspiring. It can be at once serene and spiritual, fascinating and frightening. Being something that we enjoy, we definitely wanted to share that with our kids, at whatever age they were. We’ve gone as a couple, with babies, with toddlers, with little kids, big kids, and teenagers. Each age adds a different dynamic to our camping trips, and each destination has its own challenges. But we have created memories and traditions centered around camping that I am convinced we couldn’t get any other way.
Unplug from the world.
When we go camping, we have a rule that you can not listen to music or browse on your phone. Usually there’s not enough service to do much of that anyway. But they find ways. And one of my favorite parts about taking my kids camping is being able to have down time with them. When there’s a lot of down time, with really nothing demanding your attention, it naturally leads to conversation, and that is so rare in our typically busy lives.
Commune with nature.
Part of unplugging is being able to appreciate the nature surrounding you. I love to gaze up at the stars and try to identify constellations, listen to the birds, feel the wind blowing, and take pictures of the beautiful scenery and gorgeous sunsets. It can be a great time to pray, ponder, meditate, and feel closer to God and nature.
Enjoy a little solitude.
You don’t get as much of this when you’re camping with kids. But it is incredibly peaceful when you get little moments when the big kids are off exploring or you are laying down in the tent with a baby, and you can read or just sit quietly.
Connect as a family.
Unplugging from our devices and having no other obligations vying for our time, gives us time to spend having fun together as a family. We like to play card games, go on hiking adventures, take pictures, tell stories, have discussions, and just be together doing nothing in particular. The kids tend to open up with a lot of chatter when there’s a lot of downtime and they have our full attention for once. When it comes down to it, I think we all appreciate that opportunity.
There are places you can only visit while camping.
We’ve gone to some amazingly beautiful places on hikes and camping trips. Some of these places you can’t get to by driving, you HAVE to hike there to see it. It’s so cool being able to see places that are out of the way, and not easily accessible. It feels like you are part of something special.
There are challenges to camping with kids.
Babies most likely will not be as comfortable outdoors as they are at home, toddlers may be eating dirt, falling off rocks, and trying to run off into other campsites, and older kids might complain that they aren’t getting a data signal. But if you can figure out how to deal with the challenges as they come, you can make some amazing memories, come up with some fun traditions, and have a total blast. The more your kids get used to camping, the more they will enjoy it and look forward to it too.
Camping is hard work.
You have to cook and clean and sleep outdoors and adding kids makes things a lot more complicated. But there are lots of ways to go camping, with different levels of “roughing it.” For those who are a little more wary of being vulnerable in the great outdoors, there is RV camping. That’s the one type we’ve actually never done. We’ve gone backpacking in the wilderness, we’ve gone tent camping in the mountains, in the deserts, and by the beach. We’ve hiked, we’ve snorkeled, we’ve pumped water out of a lake, and we’ve even pooped in the wilderness. But we’ve never gone camping in an RV (though I’d love to someday) because one of the things we love most about camping is how inexpensive it can be. You buy some basic equipment once, and all you have to do to go on a trip is pay for the site. In some places this can be quite cheap. Find the type that’s right for you. See what level of “roughing it” you’re comfortable with and do that. Try some different types of campgrounds and climates and times of the year to go camping in.
It’s definitely harder to take your kids camping with you. But it’s worth it.
If you are considering taking your kids camping for the first time (and this summer is a perfect time to start), I’ve got something that can help you get started. The Complete Introduction to Camping With Kids is the newest addition to the Survive Mommyhood Resource Library. It has helpful information about when to go, what to bring, what to eat, what to do while you’re there, places to go, and what to do when things go wrong. It’s a great resource for anyone thinking of taking their kids camping. Subscribe below to get access to my entire resource library including the Complete Introduction to Camping With Kids absolutely free. And if you’ve already subscribed, you already have access!
If you’ve never taken your kids camping, I say do it. Just buy (or even borrow) a few basic supplies and take the plunge! It may be difficult. It will be an adventure. But you just might love it.