Camping is a fun way to spend a family vacation because it doesn’t require any typical vacation logistics like plane tickets, car rentals, or crowded tourist attractions.
Camping has several advantages and studies have shown that exposing kids to nature can help them develop an appreciation for the environment, learn to cope with stressful situations, and curb feelings of boredom and restlessness. Camping is fantastic because it gets kids outside and away from their mobiles or tablet screens.
Here are ten ideas on how to keep your children occupied when you are out camping.
Camping is not camping without a campfire. Let them help build the campfire. First have them collect small twigs, bark, short sticks and some larger branches that might be lying around in the veld.
Add this to the designated fire place and set the kindling up in tepee style. Carefully show your child how to light the fire with a match or gas striker. Slowly add additional sticks and logs as the fire takes and the flames become bigger. Ensure that your child stays a safe distance from the fire.
No camping can go without the typical stories that is usually being told around a roaring campfire. Younger children will like listening to a story told by an adult or even an older sibling or friend. For older children, try out some spooky stories. You can also encourage kids to make up their own stories around the fire. Going hand in hand with campfire stories is also a sing-along, especially accompanied by a guitar
Hiking together as a family is one of the best ways to get to know the area around your camping site. While you are out hiking with your children, identify objects in nature whether plants or animals and teach them about it. It is also a good idea to talk or sing while walking so that you ensure you do not startle any unwary animals, critters or snakes. If they are aware that you are approaching, you can expect them to move out of your way.
Make your children aware that there is safety in numbers and tell them not to wander off alone, but always take someone with them.
This can really be a fun activity. Compile a list of items that they need to find, such as a specific flower, plant, leave or rock. You can also ask them to look for items like bottle caps, wood items, feathers or shells. It would be a good idea to also hide some treats like sweets, fruit or cool drinks. They can share this afterwards.
There are many books available on nature and it is a good idea to purchase some of these books and take them along on your camping trip. Help your children match photos of animals with their footprint and if you are in an area that is also the habitat of some wild animals, search for some animal footprints and try to identify them.
Your kids can also search for bugs underneath rocks and between the trees and plants. This is an excellent way for kids to learn respect for nature, and teach them that bugs shouldn’t just be stomped on, they’re an integral part of our ecosystem.
This is a great activity for younger children. Search for pebbles and decorate them with crayons, markers or paint so that they look like bugs or other wild animals. Hide them around the campsite and see who finds them. They can even be part of the scavenger hunt.
This is another fun filled activity that younger children will enjoy. Take some crayons and paper on your camping trip and make nature rubbings. Pick an interesting leaf or feather or any item found in nature. Lay it down on a flat surface, put a piece of white paper over it, turn your crayon lengthwise, and rub over the leaf to make an interesting print. You can also press leaves and flowers into a book as mementos of your camping adventure.
Camping is the ideal time to teach your child some cooking skills. Start the day by cooking oatmeal in a pot over the campfire. Jazz it up with pecan nuts or raisins. You can also make your own pizza while camping by using tortillas. Spread tomato sauce and grated cheese on the tortilla and add all kinds of interesting topping like last night’s left-over meat and shredded veggies. Cover this with another tortilla and wrap in foil. The foil can be placed directly on the grill of your campfire. As soon as the cheese starts to melt, cut the tortillas into wedges for a hearty meal.
A sweet treat is to skewer a whole, unpeeled banana and grill it over the campfire. When the banana is soft, split it down the middle and sprinkle with chocolate chips or sauce and scoop out of the peel with a spoon. Be sure there is enough as everyone will come for seconds.
Who does not remember lying on your back on the grass and identifying all kinds of things in the clouds overhead. This is another fun activity that your children will enjoy and they will really have to use their imagination to identify images in the clouds.
Have a competition to see who can identify the most interesting image. From elephants, rabbits to castles and cars, you never know what might pop up among the clouds.
Cloud watching by day and stargazing by night. This is quite a popular camping activity, but identifying constellations isn’t that easy. Be sure to take a book along that shows what to look for or use an app on your mobile like SkyView that allows you to point your phone to the night sky to identify the constellations.
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