5 tips to ramp up camping fun for kids
Camping is a fantastic low-cost family activity for the school holidays, but how do you keep the kids entertained when you’re in the great outdoors? Here are our five tips and tricks for keeping kids busy in the bush.
1. Send them on a scavenger hunt
Give each child a list of nature-based items to find and a bag or bucket in which to collect them. Lists can be as long or short as you like, depending on the kids’ ages and just how busy you’d like to keep them. For example, you could set them on a hunt for a gumnut, a really round rock, a wildflower, a piece of bark and a dry stick for the campfire (see below). Set boundaries so they don’t wander too far from the camping ground and your watchful eyes. For an even simpler version, send them out looking for leaves and see how many different types of foliage they can find.
2. Gear up for games
We know you don’t want to bring too much extra stuff with you on your camping trip, but a few well-chosen outdoor games and pieces of equipment can equal hours of entertainment for your kids. Make room alongside your tent, sleeping bags and esky for simple pleasures such as a soccer ball, frisbee, croquet set or lawn bowls.
3. Excite them with exercise
Most camping grounds are natural playgrounds – and if you’re lucky, yours might have an actual on-site playground, too. If you’ve pitched your tent near an ocean, river or lake, water-based activities such as fishing, kayaking, canoeing, swimming and rock-skipping can keep kids of any age occupied for hours. For drier recreational pursuits, hit the trail for a good old-fashioned family hike – just remember to bring a set of binoculars to pass around for birdwatching and other wildlife-spotting opportunities. Bonus: these energetic wet-and-dry activities will also help ensure the littlies are snoring in their sleeping bags through the night.
4. Be ready for rain
Nobody – parents and kids alike – wants rain on their camping trip, but it’s always best to be prepared. Arm your kids with some wet-weather pursuits for inside your tent, such as board games, card games, books and drawing materials, and bring notebooks and pencils so they can journal their camping exploits. These are also great go-to activities to have in your boredom-battling arsenal for when the sun goes down.
5. Cook up some campfire fun
The campfire is the centrepiece of any respectable camping trip, and it provides myriad opportunities to get the kids involved and keep them amused. Include them from the start by having them collect kindling and wood for the fire – remembering to give them some gloves to avoid nasty splinters – and make sure they find some great sticks for the next phase: roasting hot dogs, sausages and marshmallows over the open fire.
And what’s a campfire without a sing-along? After dinner, fire up your voices with traditional camping songs. Then, once you’ve sung your hearts out, settle in for some fireside storytelling. Whether you recite a family favourite, spin a new yarn, or go around the campfire and have everyone share the best part of their day, telling stories is a great way to engage the kids – and make some wonderful camping memories.
If you’re keen to enjoy the great outdoors – with or without kids – download our ebook Your Guide to Easy Day Trips.