Depending on the age of your kids you may find that getting them excited to go camping can either be incredibly easy or nearly impossible.
Personally, I have 5 kids ranging from 3 to 16. Three of them are 8 and under and have no problem getting excited for camping. With these children I simply say “Do you want to go camping this weekend?!” and I get a resounding cheer of “YEAH!!”.
On the other hand, my 14 & 16 year olds are a bit of a different story. It was about two summers ago when our oldest asked to speak with my wife and I before leaving on a camping trip. He told us that he gets really bored camping and didn’t really want to go. Honestly, I kind of shrugged it off as he couldn’t imagine being disconnected from his friends for more than a day, but none the less, we realized that getting him excited for camping won’t always come easily.
Here are a few different ways that we have used to get our kids excited to go camping and hopefully they will work for you as well.
Allow Them To Bring Their Electronics
For our older kids we have allowed them to bring their phones and stay connected to their friends. This helps them to not feel like they are missing out on anything. We have actually found that imposing a limit (at least for us) has not been necessary. Once we are out camping and doing activities, they usually end up having fun and engaging everyone. My thought is that the phones just make them feel connected and there is no worry about what they are missing.
For our younger kids, an iPad is great for a rainy afternoon or after a long day of activities when they are shot. Watching a movie in the tent after a day of play is pretty relaxing.
Plan Age Appropriate Activities
With our wide age range of kids, it is important for us to plan different activities that cater to each kid. When we find activities that keep all of them having fun, we make sure to take note for future reference.
Beach time is always fun for everyone and keeps all age groups busy. We will often bring our Stand Up Paddle Board to keep our oldest kids busy and our Aqua Lilly Pad to keep everyone else busy while playing on the water.
Planning different level hikes is also something that has worked for us. We have done easy family hikes and later planned out more difficult hikes for our older kids.
Another great activity that works well for all ages is treasure hunts. My wife and I will make a list for the campground we are at, pair up our kids and send them out to hunt for the treasures on the list. During this time we can prepare food or just have a simple break.
Get Them Involved
We don’t to necessarily call them chores, but we make sure each child is involved in the camping in some way that they enjoy. For us this is setting up tents, helping out with cooking, cooking their own food over the fire (older kids), setting up the fire, cleaning up our campsite, leading hikes and planning what activities they want to do.
Let Them Bring A Friend
This is something we do for our older kids a couple times every summer. This only happens when we are camping close to home and at a family campground. They consider this a special treat and gets them very excited. We will often set up a tent just for that kid and their friend so they don’t have to be crowded with the rest of our family.
Switch It Up
We try to book as many new campgrounds every summer as possible. Half of the fun for us is staying at a new campground and experiencing a new adventure. One camping trip we might try to stay at park that has secluded campsites with amazing scenery while the next trip might be at a family friendly resort with a pool, mini golf and more.
By changing it up and staying at different style campgrounds we find ourselves finding something new that we enjoy.
Get The Their Own Gear
All of our kids love having their own gear. From sleeping bags to flashlights and cameras, this seems to make them more excited to go out and try out their gear. You can see our most recommended gear here as well as a camping checklist here.
We have found that bringing our kids along to Cabela’s to look at gear gets them thinking about camping and always gets them excited.
Have Them Document Your Trip
Before you go camping tell your kids that you are going to have them document the trip. This can be writing about the trip and their favorite parts, photographing the trip and telling a story through photos or even doing a video about your trip. This will get them looking at the camping trip in new ways and will make them more eager to try out fun adventures while out camping.
Cameras are especially fun. All of our kids love taking their own pictures and we love seeing the photos they take. We have invested in a couple cheaper cameras to let our kids use, while it is another expense, we thinks it’s better than having one of them ruin our nice camera!
This post is part of our Camping For Beginners series.