Kids love camping, so there's no need to be afraid of camping with kids.
Getting Started with Family Camping
Welcome to the first in the series in our online tutorial that will help you get up and running with family camping.
In this first topic, we'll go over some of the benefits of camping. If you're already convinced and want to get into the 'meat and potatoes', skip ahead to the next topic: Don't fear pitching the tent - it's easy!
Don't go camping? You should
If you already go camping with your family, you'll know how great it can be.
If camping is something you're thinking of doing, congratulations. Click through the guides in this Getting Started Series and pick up some tips to help get you up to speed.
If it's not something you've been planning, you should seriously consider it. As parents, we all want to do the best for our kids. Unfortunately, time and money get in the way of many things. With camping, you can bring much fun to your kid's life. If done right, of course. And here's where we're here to help point you in the right direction.
If you hate spending time outside, spending time with your kids, or getting a little bit muddy occasionally, you're on the wrong website.
Why go camping with kids?
Most people recall their childhood when they made dens and invented imaginary adventures. Well, even today, with PlayStations and XBoxes, phones and the internet, kids still like adventures. Children love camping.....if you do it right, of course.
Children love camping
For the very small child, camping exposes them to sights and sounds they typically wouldn't have at home. Many campsites are located on farms, and you'll often find that they will show the animals to your kids.
If your child is older, camping turns the imaginary den into a real one. Sleeping in a tent, creating a campfire, staying up late in the dark, listening to ghost stories, building dams in streams, or swinging on a rope.
And for the older child and teenager, longer adventures and challenges await that teach them independence, self-reliance, and confidence - all-important life skills.
Family Camping the Right Way
OK, so there may not be precisely a 'right way'. Each family is different. What works for one person may not work for another. Etc. Etc.
However, here are some things we've learnt in the many years camping with children and what we believe makes for good family camping.
- Find campsites that are a little wilder. They may have streams, woods for building dens, and rope swings.
- Manicured holiday parks with perfect flat lawns do not always make good family campsites. However, there are plenty of exceptions. See what facilities they offer to kids (a decent play park is a good sign that kids are welcome).
- Find campsites that allow campfires (and we have a good list of those). Kids love campfires but teach them sensible precautions, too.
- Take some games for the kids or do some activities. Outdoor games work well.
- Get enough equipment to be 'comfortable'. Camping doesn't have to be hard. However, you may have to invest in better gear slowly over a few years.
- Find camping equipment that is quick and easy to set up and put away. You want to get on with some family activities (such as cooking over the campfire) and not spend hours and hours setting up your tent.
- You can live quite nicely in your tent these days, but try not to make it just like home with TVs and Microwaves, even though technically it's possible. Remember you are trying to give your family a different experience, not the same as home but in a different place.
- Avoid having to need an electric supply when camping (known as an Electric Hook-Up, or EHU). You can have great camps without EHU. If you become dependent on EHU, you will miss out on some fantastic family experiences, and some great sites don't have EHU in their best pitches. EHU also makes camping more expensive.
This guide and website will offer plenty of tips to help you camp 'the right way'.
It's not just good for the kids; it's good for you too
Camping gets you away from everyday life and routine. Away from work. Away from the TV. Away from the computer. You have to spend time as a family.
Involve your child in activities and jobs around the camp. Teach them how to build a campfire. Get them to help build a shelter. Let them help with the cooking.
Camping is relatively cheap too. Once you've invested in some gear, you can visit and stay in all sorts of places around the country for much cheaper than putting your family up in a B&B.
Here are a couple of videos to show you what we mean.