No matter how many days you’ve survived in the backcountry, boiling your own water and eating the camp food you dehydrated yourself, bringing a child (or several) camping is a whole new adventure, which requires a lot more planning and gear than your solo trips.
Keeping kids entertained is a must if you want to enjoy some quiet time and get any chores done around the campsite. Tanya Koob, a mom and camping enthusiast who blogs about her family adventures, suggests bringing toys that encourage exploration of the outdoors, such as: bikes to tour around on (campground facilities permitting), bug-collecting jars and nets, and figurine animals to play with in the sand and dirt. Make camping more fun for older kids with card and board games, which they can play well into the night by lamplight.
Get the kids active by organizing scavenger hunts, and letting them enjoy themselves while making new friends in the sand, on the playground, or in the water. Teach them the age-old camping pastimes of fishing, canoeing, and hiking. Relish the lasting skills they are learning and memories you are making.
What to bring
- Here are some of Koob’s kid-friendly camp essentials:
- Friends with their own kids—gives kids more entertainment and adults can take turns doing kid-watch duty
- Child sized lawn chairs or booster seats for mealtimes
- A portable potty
- A playpen, which “keeps children safe while you are cooking, chopping wood, or otherwise busy with camp chores”
- A baby carrier
- A large tarp or blanket for kids to play on
- A large tent you can stand up in or a screen house—gives you a dry place to change a baby, store gear, eat or play in
- Sleep/seating options for babies
- A familiar toy. “Pick your child’s favourite item or two for some comfort at camp—it’s all about comfort and security,” says Koob
- A large basin for washing dishes and bathing little ones
- Sleep sacks or even snowsuits for babies, because “warm sleepers are happy sleepers
Read about more about camping with kids on Koob's blog, Family Adventures in the Canadian Rockies.