Camping with Kids
The family camping trip belongs on that delightful list of “Growing Up American” alongside learning to drive, the art museum on the refrigerator, and hand-me-downs.
The first step is to break down the barriers. At home, the rigors of work and school combined with meal-making and household maintenance can create rigid roles for kids and adults. Camping, with it’s pioneer-like elements of homesteading and fresh-air dining, fosters a many-hands-make-light-work environment and a sense of accomplishment for all. When kids see their efforts have equal value to adults, it can have a positive impact on the family dynamic.
Overcoming camping’s pitfalls, from overambitious culinary attempts and overlooked tent pegs, to too many marshmallows and not enough paper towels, can be the beginning of family legends. With time, the dropped canoe paddle and the misplaced maps become part of your family’s unique storyline.
Occasionally it’s hard to entice older kids to look forward to a camping trip. In general tweens and teens will “get with the program” once the shock of leaving the house has subsided. The busy-ness of setting up camp is a great diversion and can serve as a good attitude adjustment period. Or you can bribe them with the addition of a friend. If one teen is good, why not take two? Maintain a semblance of control by asking, “would you like to invite X?” as opposed to the open-ended “who would you like to bring?” The addition of another child is often positive. Unlike your own children who are being forced into the unfortunate situation of a family vacation, the other child will see this as an opportunity to evade his or her own family. And just as in a good movie, the supporting players can add to the enjoyment of the grand production.
The biggest bonus of a camping trip, apart from getting away from work-a-day responsibilities, is the personal development of all family members. Just as companies book retreats and soft adventure outings to foster cooperation and confidence, so can your camping trip improve the communication and relationships within your family. Remember to try new things, encourage others to try new things, be open to unexpected outcomes (over-cooked burgers, wrong turns, and muddy shoes) and don’t be surprised by some new and improved family dynamics. And stories for years to come.
See our blog for more camping tips!