Whether you’re creating some INDOOR camping fun, or you’re doin’ the Real Deal and roughing it OUTDOORS, we’ve got loads of family-tested ideas to help you create a memorable camping adventure for you and your family — in ANY season.
So get out your tents and sleeping bags . . . It’s campin’ time!
One great way to prepare children for a family camping trip in the “wilderness” is to practice by camping indoors first. An indoor camping adventure helps little ones learn what to expect on a real camping trip away from home. Check out this post to see how to prepare an indoor campsite, sneak in some zoology and botany lessons, star-gaze inside the house, and keep kids entertained — without electronics!
Make your next sleepover a camping-themed adventure! Let the kids spend the night in a tent set up in your living room, playroom, or backyard. Add special touches you can easily do at home, like filling your tent with balloons or colorful playhouse balls for little ones to play in. When night falls, teach the kiddos how to make shadow puppets on the tent walls, and older kids can play a giggly game of Truth or Dare. Get more ideas for slumber party camping fun in the full post Creative Play: Camp IN.
If you don’t own a tent (or outdoor camping just isn’t your family’s “thing”), you can still give your kids a unique camping adventure they’ll remember. Blankets, tables, chairs, and clothespins are all you need to let your kids create their own “tent” to sleep in. They can build a pretend fire, take a nighttime hike around the house with flashlights, and take turns telling spooky ghost stories. Read the full post to learn how to build a clever indoor campsite that keeps you warm and dry — no matter the weather.
If your family is brave enough to camp OUTDOORS, how will your kids make their own fun when they get there? Here’s 10 “back-to-basics” outdoor activities for kids to do while camping, like collecting sticks to build with or to draw shapes and pictures in the dirt. Older kids can use their senses to journal or draw what they see, hear, smell, and feel while sitting still on a log or by the fire. Get lots more ideas for simple activities your kids can do while enjoying “the great outdoors” in 10 Classic Activities to Survive Camping with Kids.
Everyone camps in the woods, but have you ever camped on the ocean? There’s lots of camping fun to be had together as a family while exploring the beach — visiting lighthouses, beach-combing, ship-watching . . . Just imagine! Read how one mom took some time to unplug and simply “be” with her children in nature in Camping On the Ocean.
We all know that fall is a great time to go on a nature walk. So why not plan a Family Camping Trip to enjoy the cooler temps and fall colors at a state park or campground? Before you go, print out a “Colors of Nature” grid and have your child use binoculars to hunt for the colors shown. As your child marks off each color, talk about the season they’re most likely to find something that color in nature. Get more details for going on a Camping Color Hunt here.
So you’ve pitched the tent and are out exploring nature. If you’re lucky, you’ll come across a pond somewhere along your hike. Assuming you’re a parent who can handle a little mud, pond scum, and a water snake or two, a Family Pond Study might be a super fun and educational science lesson for you to do on a camping trip. Read how one family used their time outdoors to teach their boys about algae, dragonflies, the life cycle of a frog, and more — in a truly hands-on way.
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Feeling inspired to plan your own Family Camping Trip? We’ll help set the mood by putting a classic campfire song in your head that you won’t be able to ignore: John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt (na-NA, na-NA, na-NA-na)!
Have you got a Family Camping tip of your own? Share it with us in the comments below or on the Melissa & Doug Facebook page, where we encourage you to join your kids in Creative Play – Every Day.