It’s finally spring and that means camping is right around the corner! I can’t tell you how excited I am about this. We already have our spots booked and I can’t wait to get the trailer stocked up and ready to go. When we started camping as a family our daughter was about three. And she instantly fell in love with it. And that makes me so happy. Other than fishing (which luckily goes along well with camping) I can’t think of anything I would rather spend my summers doing with my family (check out my 10 Family Camping Mistakes post).
So this post isn’t really about the essentials you need for camping but is more focused on things you can bring along if you are camping with young kids to help keep it fun. Although I might think it’s the bees knees to just swing in a hammock all day long, they generally need a little more stimulation than that. And as you well know, even the best laid camping plans can be derailed with a little rain or oppressive heat, forcing you to stay inside. So here are my tips for things to bring to help keep them entertained and make the whole experience fun for the entire family.
Yes this is on the top of my list. If you have little ones camping with from about 2-5 play dough is your friend. Pick it up at the dollar store or make your own. It doesn’t matter. Make sure you have a few colors and some accessories (cutters, roller, etc). If it’s too rainy or too hot to be outside this is an easy way to keep the little ones engaged and entertained.
I picked up one from the dollar store. And filled it by making trips to the water station with a bucket. The dollar store ones are not very deep so it really wasn’t that much work and I enjoyed the work out anyways. Bring a few water friendly toys. I picked up a couple of dollar store mermaids, which promptly broke but replaced them with $5 beach Barbies from Walmart. We set up our beach umbrella by the pool so the kids could play in the shade right in the campsite.
You don’t need anything fancy or expensive. Grab a couple $5 (or less) kites from Giant Tiger or Walmart and keep them with your camping supplies. Kite flying is so much fun and a great way to kill some time on a day that might be too windy for the beach or to be on a boat.
A Craft/Colouring Kit
You don’t need anything elaborate here (leave the glitter at home because we know that stuff ends up everywhere) but depending on the age of your kid(s) maybe bring some colouring books and crayons/pencil crayons, some craft paper and scissors and I usually make a trip to the dollar store at the beginning of the season and grab things like foam stickers, etc. This stuff is great to have on hand if you get a rainy day.
A Frisbee and/or Large Ball
Get a couple or more kids together and they can spend quite a bit of time just playing catch with a Frisbee or a ball. Don’t bring a baseball but a beach ball works if the kids are small or one of those plastics balls they sell at places like Walmart. It’s a great way to get them moving and wear them out too.
If you have bikes and the ability to pack them up and bring them along then do it! We spend a lot of time exploring the campgrounds on our bikes. If you have a little one who can’t keep up or bike for a long time consider investing in a bike trailer or seat that attaches to your bike. We personally love the Wehoo although you might find that one a little pricey unless you do a lot of biking like we do.
I don’t think I need to say much about this, when the sun goes down the glow sticks come out.
Another idea that doesn’t really need much explanation. You can make your own bubble juice or head to the dollar store and pick up a few containers (they generally have some nice big ones) and make sure you have lots of wands of different sizes and shapes and something (like some pie plates) to pour it into.
A Play Tent
Whether you are tenters or trailer campers pick yourself up a smaller tent that is designated just for the kids to play in. One of the ways we use it as little “movie theatre” when we are busy building the fire or cooking dinner. We play a move on the iPad and know they are safe and secure while we are busy in that pre-dusk time where it’s starting to get dark out.
Another cheap and easy way to keep everyone entertained. Just remember when you bring them out mom and dad are fair game.
A Scavenger Hunt List
Take full advantage of nature by planning a family scavenger hunt. If you need some ideas just google it – there are plenty of great lists online.
Remote Control Cars
There is no better place to bring out the RCs then in your camp site! You don’t have to invest in super expensive ones (although they do make so pretty awesome “offroad” RCs).
Their Favourite Whatever…
If your little one has a favorite blanket, stuffie, toy, etc don’t forget to bring it along. Being away from home can be an adjustment for kids (even older kids) so make sure they have at least that one special thing to help them not get homesick.
White Noise Machine or App on your Phone
This one isn’t really about keeping the kids entertained but more about making sure they get a good nights sleep! Camp grounds can be noisy, especially at night. We have a little white noise machine we bring along to drown out the noise and help us all sleep better. There are also plenty of white noise apps you can load onto your phone or tablet that might do the trick.