Camping and Kids – Rule One Is Chill
I have spoken to a lot of families who are all interested in camping with their children yet do not follow through with it due to their reservations.
What is My Child Going To Do?
It can be stressful and challenging to leave the city and go into the wilderness for many. The use of technology, toys, board and video games etc are all things that you do not have when you are camping. So, the question for most parents is “what is my child going to do?” “How are we all going to sleep on the ground and in a tent?”.
As a Parent I was Anxious
This year, my family and I went camping for the first time; I have two children, 2 and 5 years of age. My anxiety was high as my 2 year old was recently toilet trained during our first trip camping. I wasn’t sure how he would do; my children are also VERY busy so I was also concerned about keeping them busy.
We bought a tent, mattress for the kids to sleep on as well as sleeping bag and small pillows.
For my husband and I we bought cots and mattress’s for them, as we knew if we were not comfortable and did not sleep it would be harder for us being tired.
This part was successful, the kids slept for most of the night. I found the hardest part about sleeping in the tent was my 5 year old was afraid at how dark it was. We provided him with a lantern to keep on beside him so he could see if he woke up.
Turns Out, Entertainment Was Easy
The entertainment part was easier that I had expected, the kids played with sticks, logs, leaves and LOTS of dirt. They had more fun than if they had their toys or the TV. They were able to use their imaginations with nature, the sticks turned into swords; the log turned into a ship and the dirt was where the buried treasure was. They played hard; they kept going and going and going, just like the energizer bunny. We took them for a walk around the campsite, to the beach that had a playground.
This helped keep them busy in addition to finding rocks, we talked about water safety when we were there and had fun.
The park had events happening in the morning that we took the kids to, ensure you pay attention to the papers they give you when you arrive.
Chances are they tell you what events are happening on the grounds and what surrounding areas you can drive to if you are in need of other items.
The Key To Camping – Relax!
One of the most important things I had to do as a parent was relax and allow my children to explore the outdoors, I had to let them get dirty and not worry about it. Clothes and bodies can always be cleaned, just remember this and you will be okay.
Once I let my guard down about exploration and the possibility they may get hurt, I accepted that this trip would be fun and the boys would learn things about nature. I was right, the boys learned about sticks, how to break them, to be careful when walking in the woods, the woods can be a hide out and the most important one; fire is not safe to be close to.
As well as, using a hammer can be dangerous if you do not watch what you are doing. This experience taught the boys to be careful and about hand and eye coordination, a great lesson with supervision.
Camping is A Lot Of Work, and Rewarding Too
Camping is a lot of work but a lot of fun as I found the boys burned more energy camping than they would on a typical weekend at home, playing at the park, in the backyard or even going to Canada’s Wonderland.
The fresh air, new activities to explore was more rewarding as they used their full imaginations with nature. Most of us do not allow our children these opportunities due to our own hesitations, take a step back and allow them to be kids, have fun and explore.
You will make it harder for you and the children if you do not allow them to explore the world around them, you will end up having countless power struggles and I can assure you that no one wins during a power struggle.
Remember – LET KIDS BE KIDS!
Amy, having earned a Bachelors Degree in Child Development, has been in the field of Early Childhood Education for the past 10 years. First working in an infant classroom, and then moving to JK, preschool and toddlers. Currently Amy works as a Supervisor of a childcare facility in York Region.