A guide to camping with kids
Our guide to camping with kids. So it’s your first time camping with your children! Or you’re just looking for inspiration when taking children camping.
You may be feeling a bit nervous, but also excited to spend time with your family in the incredible UK countryside.
My main piece of advice would be to never forget that every family is different, with completely different needs. So don’t be afraid to do what you know works for your family.
Camping is a great activity for children of all ages and abilities, it just takes slightly different planning in advance, for each family.
Camping with babies
Babies love camping- loads of quality time with their parents, fresh air that tires them out and fun walks on your backpack through the countryside- what more could they want?
To make sure you have a stress-free trip with your baby, a bit of kit helps a lot.
You could invest in a 3-in-1 bassinet, nappy carrier and changing station that can be carried on your back. It is perfect to avoid any disasters whilst you’re out on a walk, whether nappy or hungry baby related!
For a calmer night-time, invest in a comfy bed for your baby, making sure it is the right size and gives them good support. You could also drape a blanket over the tent to make it darker and help them sleep.
A top tip is to always have a carrier bag with a complete outfit change at hand for every child. Then in an emergency you can do a full change and seal any accident clothes in a waterproof bag. That way you are prepared for those game changing disaster moments of mud, sickness and toilet accidents.
For loads more tips on camping with your baby (and very importantly, how to look after mum as well) check out Camping with a baby or toddler.
Camping with teens
On the other end of the spectrum, camping with older kids is also an adjustment! By the time you’ve finally persuaded them to come, the last thing you want is your teen having a terrible time and refusing to camp with the family again.
To ensure that both you and your teen have a great time, a bit of compromise is essential. Make sure to balance equally between activities the older and younger kids want to do. You could even let your teen help you pick the campsite and plan the trip, so they feel like they have a bit more of a say in what you do. This also means they can pick somewhere with facilities they won’t complain about!
If you camp at a campsite that allow campfires (and camping isn’t real camping without a fire), then this might be a great opportunity to allow the older children to use bush craft skills to get the fire going.
Just remember to run through fire safety with them first. Have a look at our campfire safety tips.
And once they’ve got the fire going you could push the boundary a bit further and get them to organise and cook a plant based meal for the whole family.
Check our camping and eating plant based ideas.
Educational camping: wild schooling & forest school
Camping is the perfect time to have some educational fun with your kids. They won’t realise that they’re learning until its too late! You could start by teaching your kids some essential survival skills and explain the science behind nature as you walk through the forest.
For loads of specific skills to teach them and things to discuss check our guide to wild schooling. Just remember the forest school ethos of including risk-taking (which actually helps teach kids how to take risks responsibly, without damaging themselves or the environment) and promoting curiosity!
You could even let them have a go at whittling (under a watchful eye of course!).
Kids love fun science experiments, especially on a camping trip. They will really enjoy actually doing the experiment, but make sure to discuss why they saw what they did. The best thing to do is encourage curiosity.
There are loads of possibilities for camping-related experiments you could do. Why not collect rocks to experiment on, desalinate water, make leaf rubbings, marshmallow constellations or do the coke and mentos experiment!
For instructions on how to do each of these experiments, check out our camping science experiments.
Another great way to teach your kids about the natural world and ecosystems around them is by trying to identify trees. It helps children to understand the different types of leaves, bark, branches and buds as well as differentiate between broadleaf and coniferous trees.
Entertaining the kids
Once the kids get bored of learning, it’s time for some non-educational fun! If you’re camping with a big group, then large kids games are a must. They will all get tired out and have an unforgettable time- making for happy, well-rested kids.
However, even in a small group there are so many fun activities for them to do: crafts, card-games and scavenger hunts are just the tip of the iceberg!
Check out Entertaining kids camping for loads of tips for how to keep kids off their phones and have fun in the natural world instead.
Den building is also a great way to entertain kids for hours on end, for loads of tips on how to build bivouacs, here is a general guide to den-building.
Why not bring some walkie-talkies on your camping trip. There are ways you can incorporate walkie-talkies into any ordinary game (such as hide and seek, cops and robbers, or capture the flag)- which makes them even more strategic and fun.
Walkie talkies are also great for kids to play imaginary games with. Importantly, they make camping safer, as kids who are too young to use phones can get in contact with you if they get lost.
For more tips, here is a guide on camping with walkie-talkies.
What to do on a rainy day
Don’t despair if the forecast for your trip is all rain clouds! There is so much you can do to keep occupied whilst rain patters down on the roof of your tent. As long as you keep your tent dry, everyone will have a lovely time.
A few key tips are to make sure bags don’t touch the sides of your tent and place a tarp underneath the tent, making sure the edges are tucked underneath.
Rainy days are also perfect for lazy movie nights, you could even bring a projector to make your tent feel like a cinema.
Taking kids camping will be a great experience for both you and them. Kids will love to be able to spend all their time running around in the countryside and playing games, and you’ll be surprised to find how their enthusiasm and energy adds something to the camping experience.
I hope you and your little ones (or bigger little ones) have a great trip!
Here’s me signing out and thank you so much for reading.