Camping with small children

Posted by on Aug 5, 2014 in Blog | Comments Off on Camping with small children

In the current days of video games, iPads and internet, many kids do not get the experience of camping in the outdoors without these coveted luxuries. Plan your family camping vacation in the Sandhills and leave technology behind. Get back to basics and consider camping in a tent or even renting a camper or RV. The Sandhills of Nebraska offer spectacular views and lots of activities for all ages. Here are some tips on planning your vacation with kids to get the most out of your experience.

• Plan the camping trip together – let the kids be involved and make decisions. This will keep them excited and build anticipation for the trip.
o Decide on places to go – consider interests, outdoor experience and children’s ages. Do a bit of research and make a list with photos for the kids to rank by ‘must do’ and ‘if we have time.’
o Choose activities such as swimming, horseback riding and hiking.
o Plan and shop for your meals. This will save you time and money.
o Prepare and pack the equipment and supplies.
• Try a backyard campout before you go for the first time. This will help prepare the kids for what to expect.
o Teach the kids how to set up a tent.
o Try some outdoor cooking – there are many recipes that you can make over a campfire other than hotdogs and marshmallows!
o Experience a night outdoors in sleeping bags.
o Plan a few activities such as storytelling or board games.
o Search the sky for constellations and shooting stars.
o Listen to the many night sounds and try to identify them.
• Try to experience outdoor activities with your kids
o Teach them about safety and to respect nature.
o Teach outdoor skills and outdoor ethics. Things such as ‘take out what you take in’ are simple, yet important, concepts.
o Make camp chores fun. Collect firewood, hammer tent stakes, help set up chairs – kids will enjoy feeling helpful.
o Take a small day hike in the woods at a local park. Take time to point out different flowers, leaves and wildlife along the way.
o Visit a nature center or observatory.
o Read books about camping and the outdoors.
o Go on a flashlight walk after dark.

Once you have had some camping ‘practice,’ when the time comes to take your trip, do not underestimate what you will need. Be sure to bring extra clothing and shoes – the kids will get wet and extremely dirty. Also pack some warm clothing – air off of the river can be chilly, especially after the sun goes down. Dressing in layers is the best option, as the daytime temperatures can be quite warm.

Also remember to bring bug spray and sunscreen. Most of the day you will probably be outdoors and will want protection from the hot sun and pesky bugs. It is also a good idea to bring a swimsuit. Even if you are not planning on swimming, if you happen upon a creek or stream, it will save you a wet outfit. Also pack a small first aid kit for any accidents, bumps and bruises. Rain gear should be included, as well as activities for indoors in case of uncooperative weather.

When going camping with small children for the first time, take your time getting there. Make lots of stops on the way there and on the way home. Do not plan on staying more than two or three nights, and be sure to bring comforts from home such as special toys, blankets and pillows. Bring lots of snacks and plenty of drinks to stay hydrated.

Most of all, enjoy the time and make memories that will last your children a lifetime. Take plenty of photos, and even consider letting the kids use a disposable camera that they can snap whatever they would like during the trip. These can be incorporated into a scrapbook or photo album that everyone will enjoy for years to come.