In Australia most of us have memories of childhood camping trips and adventures in the great outdoors. For some it’s long weeks of bare feet, sun and sand at the beach and sleeping under the stars, for other it might be the memory of riding bikes, making some new friends and eating ice cream and marshmallows. But some things are for sure, they nearly all involve the simple pleasure of being together as a family and being surrounded by those you love. Because the truth is kids mostly remember the feelings more so than the details and what seems ordinary to adults can be wondrous, exciting and amazing to a child.
So if you’ve never had the opportunity to take your kids camping (or your last attempt was disastrous and left you vowing never, never again) let our guide to camping with kids inspire you to set off on your own camping adventure and create some new family memories.
1. Choosing Your Location
Before you trek off, stop and consider how experienced you and your kids are at camping. Decide ahead of time what facilities you want and what luxuries you are prepared to do without. Pitch a tent, bring a van or unhitch your caravan.
2. Make a List and Check it Twice (with the Kids)
This technique doesn’t just work for Santa, it makes sense and can be a fun way to get everyone involved in preparing and thinking about your family holiday. It’s the small things that are often more important and they make a HUGE difference to your comfort and happiness once you arrive. Getting kids to have their own backpack also helps them think about what they need.
Some must-haves include:
- Sunscreen and insect repellent
- Esky for cold food
- Hand sanitiser
- Torches for everyone
- Marshmallows + healthy snacks
- Bottled drinking water
- Multiple changes of clothes (kids have a habit of getting wet and filthy in the blink of an eye)
- Warm clothes (it can always get cold)
- Plastic zip lock bags for wet clothes and various collected “treasures” from the beach
- Closed-in shoes – for bush walking, bike riding etc.
- Card games
- Lots of towels
- Beach toys
3. Fun, Healthy Food
Little bodies playing all day need good fuel to keep them going. Camping is the perfect time to make healthy food fun and easy. Try simple recipes that the kids can be involved in preparing like damper, spuds cooked in foil, baked beans, fresh fruit salad, a trail mix of seeds, nuts and dried fruit and veggie ‘snack packs’ of cut up carrot, cucumber, celery and cherry tomatoes. As with everything, moderation is the key – so make sure you do include some fun treats like marshmallows or pancakes.
4. Helpers Hats On
Kids are great helpers and love to feel they are part of the whole experience. Choosing a campsite, sweeping the tent site, washing up pots and carrying the torch are just some of the jobs that you can get kids to do. Not only does this keep them out of mischief it helps build essential life skills. Feeling part of the family decisions also lets them experience responsibility with your guiding hands for reassurance. Many hands make light work so it will also remind them gently that Mum and Dad are here to have some fun and relax too.
5. I’m bored!
If camping and the outdoors is brand new to your kids and they are pining for their iPods or devices, then be patient. The whinging and whining will pass especially if they see you getting in and trying new things. Swimming, fishing, bike riding, bird watching and bush walking are the obvious camping things to do, but think outside the box and invent your own list of outdoor games and fun. Set up a treasure hunt with clues, invent stories about the pirates and dinosaurs that used to live at your camp site (this will spark a wave of imagination and a host of games), bring a small pack of pencils and a blank sketch book and encourage your “little artists” to draw what they see and hear around them, explore rock pools and creeks, go bug catching, build sand castles, fly kites on the beach, get up early and watch the sunrise over the ocean…the list is endless.
6. Keep it Clean, Keep it Green
Keeping your campsite clean and organised will not only help things go smoothly, it will also teach your children the importance of protecting our environment. Have clearly designated rubbish bags or recycling buckets and have regular clean ups where the family work together. Discuss the animals and plants that call the area home and how they would feel if you left rubbish about and destroyed their home. Being a good camper involves caring about the world we live in.
7. Rain Rain Go Away
So you’ve planned your family camping getaway for months, the time has finally arrived and low and behold down comes the rain. All is not lost. If you’re well prepared with spare clothes let the kids go out and get wet. The feeling of summer rain, giggling and running free will stay with them always. Clothes, hair and towels can all be dried. If you’ve chosen to stay at First Sun Holiday Park you will be grateful, as having undercover eating areas, washing machines and the “real world” just minutes away can keep your sanity intact and with so much to do in Byron Bay the family is guaranteed to still have a great time. Click here to read our guide on things to do in Byron Bay.
8. Take Baby Camping
Many mums are put off by camping while babies are small, but if you are well prepared it can actually be a very rewarding experience for mum, dad and bub alike. The peace and quiet of nature can often sooth restless babies and when the food source is mum you can travel light. Choosing a campsite not too far from town with good facilities can also help if anything goes astray.
9. Don’t be Afraid of Dirt
Dirt is part and parcel with any camping adventure, but it need not mean a constant state of panic for mum if you remember that dirt means FUN! Relax a little while you are away even if you love having your children and home spotlessly and germ free. Allowing kids a healthy dose of outside play including dirt, sand, sunshine and fresh air is good for them and helps kids build a resistance to bugs and illnesses.
10. Record Your Experience
When you return home, the gear is packed away and the washing is all done, take some time to relive the fun with your kids by creating a camping book or journal. Include pictures you have taken, maps, stories and mementos. Also make a list of things you realised you needed but forgot, some fun facts you learnt and start planning your next trip! With school-age kids it’s important to book early as many holiday parks fill up quickly over the school holidays.
Looking for accommodation these school holidays? Plan ahead and book your accommodation NOW. Places fill fast and we want you here for all the fun!