Before we had children, my husband and I loved to camp. We had stayed overnight in our tent all over the UK, France and once we moved to Canada, we took the opportunity to explore Ontario and Quebec national parks and stunning wilderness at every chance we got. There is something so freeing and minimalist about packing up a bag and spending a weekend outdoors. However, when we became parents I wondered if our camping adventures were a thing of the past. Just visiting the in laws seemed to involve military precision and the car was always bursting with equipment, a holiday away from all the modern conveniences seemed like far too much trouble. In a country, prone to extremes of weather and the odd bear attack, I was a little paranoid about the logistics of taking a small child into the wilderness.
My concerns regarding safety and comfort were allayed when we finally took our toddler on his first camping trip and chose the middle ground, selecting a site that offered some covered accommodation with real beds and a few electronic appliances, plus a private outhouse, this made our first trip as a family of three a little more comfortable. We also chose a spot close enough to town that if we had any real problems, civilisation was close at hand, it also meant we could go and grab a pizza for supper one night, if necessary, to make the
experience even easier.
Now that we have done it a few times, we have realised that camping with small children isn’t that difficult and we don’t even need some of those luxuries at all. The sheer pleasure our little one gets from being wild and free for a whole weekend or longer is worth a little pre-planning and preparation.
However, many people worry that camping with small children is difficult, they have safety concerns, worry about their child’s comfort and presume you would have to bring a huge amount of resources and special gear.
The truth is children are far more adaptable than most adults and thrive on adventure, if you remember a few essentials and a few home comforts you can
ensure your child’s first camping trip is the first of many.
Read on for my top ten list of things you should take with you on your trip to ensure you have happy kiddy campers.
Don’t forget large rubbish bags to put recycling in and some old t-shirts etc to use as cleaning rags.
If children are having fun, they’re getting dirty, so make sure you have a good selection of spare clothes for a variety of weather conditions. Take more clothes than you think you’ll need and pick cozy soft fabrics, it can get chilly at the campsite in the evenings.
Give your child their own torch to light their way, and a knife for whittling by the fire when age appropriate.
4. Own Backpack
Children enjoy having responsibility for their own belongings, plus this keeps all their toys and materials separate from the rest of the camping supplies. Having one small backpack encourages children to streamline their packing, if it doesn’t fit inside, it can’t come on the trip.
5. Day Activities
The idea of spending the day inside a soggy tent with stir-crazy kids keeps many parents from ever trying camping with their children, but as long as you pack a few rainy-day activities you can pass the time until the rain clouds move on, in relative harmony. Board and card games, craft resources, colouring and a selection of books can help to
pass the time.
6. Aid Kit
A well-stocked homeopathic or herbal first aid kit is essential for all trips but inevitably children are going to get scrapes and cuts when playing outdoors, a few plasters are the bare minimum.
7. A Box
A box is a versatile item to pack, kids can tote their toys around the campsite, use it to help carry food and drinks to mum or dad, it can keep items off the floor and organised, can be
used to collect items during a scavenger hunt.
Children love to be outdoors, a day spent exploring nature, getting mucky and being active really tires them out, and as they cuddle up in their tent and fall asleep, mum and dad get some rare grown up time around the campfire.
Camping with children is cheap, fun and creates lasting memories, so what are you waiting for?
Fiona Tapp, is a freelance writer, mum and former teacher. She can be reached at or on Twitter @fionatappdotcom. She writes about parenting, education and travel at her blog- www.lullabiesanddeadlines.com.