Yesterday, for national Bring Your Child to Work Day, we asked the office children what they wanted to know about camping. Ranged from ages 4-13 years old, here’s what they came up with:
1. How cold will I be?
Kids run like little furnaces. They burn energy quickly and tend to stay pretty warm. It’s a safe bet that during a camping trip, they’re going to be perfectly fine while their free to run around camp. The trick to kids, however, is they don’t always have the common sense knowledge to put clothes on when it starts to rain or when the temperature drops suddenly. This has nothing to do with intelligence, merely a lack in life experience. If you’re camping with your kids, make sure you’re paying attention to what they’re wearing when the weather turns foul.
2. Where do we put my bed?
Explaining that your 8-year-old’s racecar bed won’t fit in the tent can be a challenge. It’s best to pitch the idea of camping like a big slumber party. Story time, snuggles and a sleepover-esque environment will sometimes sweeten the deal. It’s been my experience that separate parent and child (if you have a few) tents also make things easier. The kids love the idea of a little independence, but tents are so thin that you can still keep an ear on them and what they’re up to.
3. What if I get eaten by a lion?
While most of us aren’t venturing into lion territory with our children, the danger of an animal encounter is still real. Generally speaking, kids are noisy enough to keep away the big critters like bear, moose and deer, but you might see some smaller animals such as opossum, raccoon and fox. Part of the protection for them is proper education on how to behave in the wilderness, but you can’t control the curiosity of a child. I always find it best to turn encounters with animals into educational situations, and use them to talk about both the animal and how we should behave around them in the wild.
4. Can my dog come?
Dog’s make great camping companions for children. They’re equally high energy and can keep up during a long play day, even when you can’t. If you’re going to be camping with your dog, make sure that you follow proper Leave No Trace procedures, follow all park rules, and get your dog properly checked up before going on the trip.
5. What are we going to eat?
There are plenty of fun filled meals that are great for kids while camping. They’re quick, easy and educational. Kids love the open fire. Whenever I’m out with the young ones, I try to plan as many open meals as possible. Remember, its important to have a backup cooking source just in case you can’t get a fire going – but the more open fire camp meals you can have, the more fun your kids will have. For a weekend camping trip, I’ll usually plan hot-dogs on a stick one night and hobo dinners the next. Both are super easy, don’t require much and are enjoyable for all. And don’t forget dessert; the time tested and true S’more is the way to go when it comes to making a good meal into a great night.
6. Where can I charge my phone?
This is definitely the hardest of the questions to deal with. Okay, maybe not the hardest but definitely the most complicated. The argument for electronics in the backcountry could go on for days and days and days. The quick answer to this is that you won’t need to charge your phone because you won’t have it. The realistic answer is a little different. There are plenty of ways to successfully use a phone in the back country. Sure, it can certainly take away from the experience, but it can also be a vast wealth of knowledge. Apps these days offer information on all aspects of life, even those in the outdoors. If you’re going to use your phone, charging certainly is an issue. Personally, I used solar panels to keep my phone charged. They’re light and easy to use, which is great. They are a bit unreliable, as is the weather but for the most part they do the trick. Other’s use pre-charged battery packs which work well as well. My issue with them is that the charge is finite, but the reliability is a nice feature.
Hopefully this will help you answer some of the questions your kids might have about camping. Let’s think of it as a parent’s guide to getting kids outside. Happy trails, everyone!