Camping season is upon us, and what better way to spend quality family time than going camping with your kids.
Camping is a great way to relax and introduce your kids to the great outdoors. With a bit of planning, a camping trip can be an easy and fun-filled activity for the whole family.
Whether your family are seasoned camping pros, or it’s your first time bringing your kids camping – below are some tips and tricks to make camping with your children a success.
Finding the perfect camping spot
Alberta has a number of different campgrounds:
- National Park campgrounds. On Parks Canada’s website you can see national park campgrounds, what amenities they offer and make reservations. The free Parks Canada app also has useful guides on camping such as camping basics, camping checklists and more.
- Provincial Park campgrounds. On the Alberta Parks website you can find a campsite near you, see what amenities and activities are offered and make reservations.
- Privately-owned campgrounds are also founds across Alberta. It may take a bit more research to find the perfect fit for your family as they differ more in level of service, but this can easily be done on Alberta Campground Guide. You can also download one of the many apps to locate campgrounds. A free app is Campgrounds where you can find a campground and check out reviews and a description of amenities. For $10 you can download Allstays’ app that gives a comprehensive guide to camping both with RVs and tents.
- If you’re looking for a campground with lots of kid-friendly activities built in, check out Old Macdonald’s Farm.
July is a busy time of year to go camping. If you can, make reservations ahead to avoid disappointments.
Preparing your children for camping
Although camping is fun, it is a good idea to prepare your children for an outdoor adventure:
- Pitch a tent in your backyard, so your children can experience what it feels like to sleep in a new environment before you venture out on a longer trip. This could also help you find out what your children need to feel safe and happy: their favourite stuffed animal, their own pillow, etc.
- Go on a test day trip to a park or lake near you before you go on an overnight camping adventure and see how your children react to the experience.
- Involve your children in the planning of your camping trip and ask them what they would like to see and do on the trip.
- Let your children pack their own camping gear from a list you have made. Double check they have all they need before you leave.
Packing for success
Whether you are camping in an RV or a tent, you need to be prepared for both sun and rain. Check the weather forecast before you leave and use it as a guideline, but the weather can be unpredictable especially in the mountains.
Sun protection such as sunscreen, hats, a tarp or a screen house are essentials on hot, sunny days.
Warm clothes, blankets, rain wear and rubber boots are good to bring in case of rain.
To keep on budget, consider borrowing equipment from friends, rent or buy used equipment.
Cooking over a campfire can be a big part of the camping experience, but preparing a meal with the little ones underfoot and outside of your regular kitchen can be challenging at best.
The solution is to prepare as much of your meals ahead of time as possible. Chop and pre-portion up to a day or two before you leave. This will make for easy meals and even easier clean-up.
Here are some recipes for prepare-ahead campfire dinners:
And don’t forget other classic, simple campfire meals like hotdogs!
Make the trip fun for your children. If you’re driving far, bring entertainment for trip. Bring your children’s favourite toys and plan some car games such as sign ABC’s. Plan frequent stops and maybe see some sights on the way.
Even with a playground and a lake nearby, remember to plan some activities for rainy days: cardgames, boardgames, books or cartoons, or crafts are good indoor activities.
Another fun camping activity is a scavenger hunt.
Sometimes less is more. Making a campfire, going fishing or hiking are fun activities for the whole family. You can also bring your children’s’ bikes, so they can go explore the campground on wheels.
Have fun camping!