It’s never too early to start camping with your kids! A family camping trip is a great way to break up the routine, get your kids outside, and bond as a family! Younger kids will love finding colorful rocks and little bugs in the dirt or pretending with sticks. The older kids will marvel at star-dotted skies and ranging into the woods (that energy needs to go somewhere). It’s all there for you and your family to enjoy together.  

Here are some tips for getting started and making camping with kids a good experience for everyone.

Practice camping at home. 

Practice setting up the tent in your backyard or spacious room before you get out there. Challenge the kids to see who can assemble it the fastest! Then, let them play around in it to get comfortable and to build some anticipation. Adults will want a yoga mat or cot to lessen the side effects of sleeping on the ground.

Pack food kids like.

Kids can be fussy eaters. Be sure to bring food you know they’ll eat. The nearest restaurant or gas station could be (and should be) miles away! Kids enjoy cooking things in the fire, so plan at least a few things that can go on the end of a stick or cooking skewer. Involve them as much as possible beforehand, so they know what you’re packing (and then pack some back-ups, just in case).

Find the right campsite. 

Find a campground with amenities that suit your family best. There are plenty of campsites accessible via paved or packed dirt roads. Other campsites require traversing more adventurous driving conditions. If it’s your family’s first time out, stick to campsites that are reasonably developed and not too far from home (just in case).

Have a positive attitude. 

Camping puts everything in a different place – literally! That’s the fun of it! It can help develop resilience and problem-solving (for both you and the kids). As the parent, be prepared to cope with some protesting or whining, particularly since it’s all new for them and because camping usually (and intentionally) includes a reduction in electronics use. Stay positive, and your kids will come around!

Take lots of pictures. 

Camping often provides beautiful panorama vistas to pose in front of, along with close-up portraits of chocolate-marshmallow smiles. Celebrate the wins, document the failures, and encourage everyone to create their own photo journal of the trip. After you get home, host a family “slide show” night with popcorn and rootbeer floats as you go through all the photos together.

Camping with kids can feel intimidating. Don’t let it keep you from enjoying the great outdoors! A little planning ahead and a positive attitude can go a long way to making sure it’s an enjoyable experience for the whole family. Whatever happens, you’ll be creating lifetime memories for yourself and your kids.