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What to Know Before You Go Family Camping

By: Chris Nickson - Updated: 8 Oct 2012 | comments*Discuss
Camping Family Tent Children Teens

Taking the family camping is a great idea. It’s a way of bringing everyone together, and enjoying some good, quality time away from home and the daily routine. It’s a chance to play and enjoy nature together. But there’s more to it than simply packing everyone into the car and heading off to the country. For it to be successful requires thought and planning.

How Old Are Your Children?

There’s certainly no age limit on taking kids camping. A lot of people go with babies, although you’ll have to make adequate preparations for sleeping and play. As all parents know, getting ready for any outing with a baby means assembling so much stuff that you feel like you’re heading out for a month; going camping with one understandably involves even more.

It’s easier with older children, but here again, there are problems to consider. Just because you’re in the country, it doesn’t mean they can have complete freedom to go where they want. They need to consider animals, private property, as well as other potential hazards like water, things they might consider to be an adventure. You'll need to set limits on where and how far they can go, and be firm with them.

Family Activities

One of the great joys of being on holiday together is being able to do things as a family. Do research on the area where you’ll be camping. That will give you a chance to plan activities to satisfy everyone in the family, whether it’s exploring castles and stately homes, going to a petting zoo, a theme park, or simply some walking in the country (and be careful on distance; you don’t want to exhaust your kids and end up with them hating hiking). Allow plenty of time to simply relax and play, too – board games are an excellent way to pass an evening for everyone, or simply playing cards.

If your kids are picky about food, the way so many are, then cooking at a campsite will be tricky, but with some forethought it can work. Once again, planning is the key to it all. Taking time to plan before you leave home will help make the camping holiday much better.

Considering The Practicalities

One important issue is where everyone will sleep. With young children, then obviously you’ll want them in the same tent as you, which means you'll have to plan for a tent that will allow you room to live alongside each other, in close proximity for a few days. But at what age should they have their own tent (or tents)? That’s up to you, of course, but they will want some independence. With teens, they may want to have their own tents, and probably want to socialise with others on the site, so you’ll need to set deadlines, just as you would at home. How much freedom do you want to give them?

Unless your kids have spent time in the country, it’s worth taking the time to educate them in the Countryside Code. They may feel they don’t need it, especially if they’re older, but it’s still worthwhile. The rules are different to what they’ve experienced, and they need to be aware of them, and follow them.

The same applies to etiquette. Treating people well is simply polite, of course, but in something like a campground, where people are very much on top of each other, it takes on even greater importance, with things like not making too much noise or dropping litter vital.

Take all these into account, and spend time planning things and educating your children before you leave home, you’ll end up having a camping holiday that everyone can enjoy – and the first of many together.

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You should put more emphasis on activities, especially with pre-teen children, as they usually need to be entertained most of the time. Finding somewhere with lots to do in close range can be really important to the peace of parents! Hiking often won't be enough as kids will become bored very easily - and pray you don't have extended periods of rain!
Donna - 31-May-12 @ 10:05 AM
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