Packing for any trip with kids can be a handful, even more so when you throw tents, coolers and flashlights into the mix. Get your kids to pitch so they feel like they’re a part of the trip, and preparations will go faster.
Here are a tips to getting kids on board:
- Lists are great. Older kids can pack their own clothes from a list. Younger ones can choose and add a stuffed animal and a book to their bag. Make sure they bring anything they need to happily get through the night, so everyone sleeps peacefully.
- Do a dry run at home. If you’ve never been camping, or just haven’t camped in a while, shake out your gear and set up at home. Seeing the tent come together in the living room or the backyard, and spending an afternoon or a night in it, will put your kids at ease with the idea of camping and build anticipation for the adventure. It’s also a chance for you to show them where to keep their clothes, how to turn on their headlamp, and run over rules like No Dirty Feet in the Tent. Most importantly, it also exposes any gaps in your gear or your packing list before it’s too late to run to the store.
- Pack for fun. Kids love the freedom that camping brings. Make the most of it by bringing simple outdoor toys they can enjoy with their siblings or buddies. Frisbees will get hours of use, and magnifying glasses and field guides will turn your kids into explorers. If you have room, most car campgrounds are ideal places to ride bikes and scooters, and the kids will love roaming the loops in a pack. (Note, helmets are required in many parks.) After dark, glowing light sticks make miniature light sabers or batons (and, as a bonus, they also make the kids a lot easier to track down when it’s time for bed).
- Review the rules. Point out any areas that have been designated as off-limits, and make sure the kids know not to roam right through other people’s campsites. Be sure to introduce them to the concept of quiet hours. Lastly, don’t forget to point out any hazards like poison oak, deep or fast water to all the kids--even seasoned campers.