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Tips for Camping with Kids

Written by Dan Oko.

1. Expect the unexpected

Whether traveling alone or with preschool companions, that’s one rule campers and parents alike ought to abide. After all, just as there’s no accounting for the weather, it’s tough to anticipate the moods and desires of a child far from home. Be flexible, but with a quality playbook, you can limit the shocks and squabbles that can turn a dream trip into a nightmare.

2. Preparation is important

Even for the most experienced wilderness scout. Most kids do better when they have had some practice. Before you go, set up a tent in the yard or a nearby park, and spend time playing inside;let the kids sleep in a sleeping bag in their own bed to get used to the feel; and serve the food at home that you plan to serve on the trip.

3. Convince your children that traveling and camping is fun

One way to do this is to involve them in the planning and packing. Show your child a map of your intended route, and talk about what you may see and do down the road. Then, when it comes time, encourage the kids to pick toys, books, and clothing that they would like to have during the journey. This can also help minimize homesickness.

4. Get organized

While in the car, on the trail, or at camp, keeping useful items, first-aid, and snacks where you or your charges can reach or find them easily will simplify everybody’s life.

5. Maintain a kid’s perspective

When you’re driving, keep the dis-tances within reason, and find roadside attractions and other reasons to take breaks. When hiking, keep the mileage reasonable and let children explore at their own rate; don’t become obsessed with adventurous conquests. Sharing the moment can help lower your blood pressure, as will listening carefully to complaints, showing compassion over issues such as being afraid of the dark, and the like. If you slow down and enjoy the simple sensations of new sights and sounds, you probably will have more fun, too.

6. Don’t overlook safety concerns when enjoying the outdoors

A little caution can go a long way. Kids can be clumsy, so keep them away from cliffs. Pack sunscreen, and carry enough food and water so that if things go south, hunger and thirst don’t add to your woes. Bring clothing for all elements— and don’t forget hats.

7. Don’t be afraid to ask for advice

Texas Parks and Wildlife runs an excellent Outdoor Family Workshop program providing equipment as well as training for your next adventure. 

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