Don’t worry if you’ve never been car camping and, no, we don’t mean sleeping in the car with the whole family. Car camping simply means that you drive to your desired campsite as opposed to hiking there. In fact, it’s probably what most people think of when they envision “camping.” While hiking to a campsite is an activity in itself and can educate and entertain kids, car camping requires a completely different set of planning skills. Nevertheless, car camping is a fun time for kiddos and adults alike.
Choose Your Destination Wisely
If camping is new to your kids, it may be best to start with destinations that have modern plumbing and even electricity. Some newer campsites also have Wi-Fi. You might have to pay more for these luxuries, but your kids will soon get used to “roughing it” as you cut down on the frills each trip.
An alternative would be to choose a more traditional campsite for the first experience, but make it a one night adventure. Also, opt for a relatively short drive. As your kids gain more camping skills and, hopefully, excitement about camping, you can venture farther from home and take longer trips.
Few things dampen a camping trip more than a parent who has strict expectations for how everything should go. If you burn dinner and must order pizza delivery, that’s okay. Ditto if a child gets sick and everyone has to leave early.
Explaining expectations ahead of time is also helpful. For instance, if you want the kids to pay attention to nature instead of their tablets, prepare them by letting them know a few days in advance rather than dropping it on them at the last minute. That could lead to constant, trip-ruining complaints.
Make the Most Out of Being Outdoors
A weekend camping trip is one of the best learning experiences you can give your kids. Look for wildlife, check out some weird bugs, go birdwatching and learn about constellations. Make an effort to have fun and remember stories by going over the “pit” and “peak” of each family members day. You won’t be able to help yourself from smiling when you’re planning your next camping trip and you hear, “hey, dad remember that last camping trip when…”
Practice Camping at Home Before Doing it Outside
If your kids have never been camping before, it may be a good idea to practice setting up camp and sleeping in a tent before the trip. Let them hang out in their tent or even spend a night in it so that they are prepared and know what to expect when your camping weekend rolls around. Ask your kids what they thought of setting up camp and come up with a plan on how to improve next time.
Have Fun Packing, But Remember the Essentials
Perhaps the greatest benefit of car camping is that you can bring practically anything you want as long as it fits in the vehicle. That means fun goodies such as board games, baseballs, gloves, basketballs and the like are probably doable. Don’t get so caught up in the fun stuff that you forget about essentials such as sunblock and mosquito repellents. There are also tents that help protect campers from insects.
If you want to show off your cooking skills or allow your kids to cook (if they’re old enough), consider investing in something such as the Kwik Pantry with Cook Table that is compact and easy to set up.
And to keep with the “make-it-as-easy-as-possible-at-first” principle, try not to shoehorn your family into cramped quarters. Your kids may enjoy camping more if they get to stretch out in a Kids Tent-Cot, and because there are no complicated tent poles to assemble, they’ll also get the satisfaction of setting up their own tent