||SAMANTHA KEMP-JACKSON, Chic Savvy Mama
The great outdoors beckons and you’ve decided to get back to nature and expose your children to the wonders of the natural world. But you have some trepidation about this jaunt into “the wild,” because, after all, your kids are city slickers at heart. And so are you!
Photo Credit: iStock
While the thought of roasting marshmallows over a campfire may seem idyllic, the reality is that camping, while fun, takes effort in order to get it done right — especially when you’re bringing along the entire family. Nevertheless, it can be done, and done well. Follow these tips to make the most of your time in the great outdoors.
1. ABC (Always Be Prepared)
If you were ever a Girl Guide or Boy Scout, you’d know their motto is to “be prepared.” This also applies to camping, big time. The elements are unpredictable, and driving rain or a storm can put a real damper on the festivities if you’re not prepared. Whether it’s bad weather or blazing sun, make sure you have all of the items required to make your camping trip a success — bug spray, sunscreen, an extra tarp, a generator and candles will help you out in a pinch.
2. Plan ahead
Besides the logistics of getting to your campsite (can we say “bathroom breaks” anyone?) think through your camping adventure as best you can, before you get in the car. Plan for the worst-case scenario and work backwards. This means letting the kids know they will not have all of the usual amenities of home and, depending on how “extreme” you want to get, they may have none at all. If they will be relieving themselves in the woods, for example, tell them in advance. It will lessen the shock.
3. Follow the rules
Adhere to camping etiquette and follow the unspoken rules. This may include, but is not limited to, keeping the noise down late at night, never storing food in your tent and respecting any fire bans. The worst camping adventure would be one where your city-raised kids committed a campsite faux pas, alienating them from potential playmates — and you from gaining some new camping buddies.
4. Pack it in
Heading to a campsite does not require you or the family to pack everything but the kitchen sink. Efficiency will be appreciated if you have to walk a ways to get to your campsite, or if you’re planning a portage with the kids. Pack as little as possible and make the most of the space you have. Teach your kids the same. They’ll thank you for it later.
Photo Credit: iStock
5. Get back to nature
City kids often have no idea about what “roughing it” really means. If they’re used to playing the Xbox and watching YouTube videos all day, they might be stunned by the beauty and silence of nature. Make your camping trip a memorable one by doing things that highlight nature at its finest — swimming in the lake, hiking in the woods or cooking over an open fire.
6. Easy does it
Camping with the entire family can be trying at the best of times, even for seasoned pros. So why make it more difficult than it has to be? Bring along items that will help you make the transition from city slicker to camper extraordinaire. On your list of “must have” items for the trip? Paper plates for quick disposal, lots of paper towels and a Swiss army knife that can do triple duty, to name a few.
7. Water… water…
City slickers take water for granted. Case in point: You’re thirsty. You walk to the fridge or tap. Water appears. This is not the case when camping, so bring as much drinkable water with you as possible. Plan how much your family will need for the duration of your trip, then bring at least a third more.
8. Here comes the sun
Sunburns are a real drag and can ruin your entire trip. For this reason alone, make sure you’re prepared for nature’s rays. Stock up on extra sunscreen, hats and UV-protective clothing, especially for the little ones. And just in case the rays win out, bring along some soothing after-burn medication as backup.
9. Bug off!
Being the main course at a mosquito or black-fly buffet is no fun, and itchy bites can make kids miserable. While there are obvious preventive measures such as using insect repellant (there are plenty of kid-friendly, non-DEET varieties available), there are other simple ways to fend off bugs. Leave the sweet-smelling soaps, shampoos and creams at home, and dress in light-coloured clothing. Wearing long-sleeved shirts and pants will also make you a less attractive target to flying bugs.
10. All fired up
Everyone loves a campfire (roasted marshmallows, anyone?). Campfires, however fun, can be dangerous. Before you get to your campsite, explain to the kids in detail how to behave around a campfire so they’re well versed on fire safety. As well, make sure you — as the adult — adhere to any campground fire bans or related rules. Better safe than sorry.
Samantha Kemp-Jackson is a mother of four, with three under the age of eight, including identical twin toddlers. She blogs about her experiences of being a frazzled mom of many at Multiple Mayhem Mamma.
Date Added: June 10, 2011 | Comments (1)
I’m definitely not a camper. But if I ever have kids, I’ll definitely pass these tips on to my hubby because he’ll be the one roughing it with them!
Comment by Melanie — June 19, 2011 @ 10:53 am