Jun 1, 2024 - Things to Do

5 tips for how to making camping fun for kids

Illustration of a tent, trees, backpack and wooden sign made of plastic building blocks.

Illustration: Lindsey Bailey/Axios

In the middle of the woods, the two words you don't want to hear are "I'm bored."

Why it matters: It's a common refrain when you go camping with children, away from the familiar confines of home and electronics, despite being surrounded by undiscovered nature.

A little planning ahead can go a long way in preventing boredom and even making camping fun.

  • Here are five tips from experts and personal experience to keep the kids' attention.

1) Stay close to home: When you first start camping, don't venture too far afield in case you need to bail. Even the backyard is an ideal starting place.

  • A nearby spot lowers expectations and offers a chance to test out what you need and don't need on a future trip.

2) Pick the right campsite: Choose one that offers a variety of activities to keep the whole family entertained, whether it's a nearby river, lake, waterfall, sand dunes or even just big boulders to climb.

  • National parks are the ultimate location because most offer daily programs to learn about animals, rocks and the solar system. The Junior Ranger booklet offers a roadmap of activities to explore the surroundings with a prize at the end.

3) Make it fun: Just because you're camping, it doesn't have to be a spartan experience.

  • Other gear-free activities include birdwatching, journaling and sketching plants.

4) Make dinner an event: Likewise, camp meals don't need to be often-bland rehydrated food.

  • Make-your-own pizzas on tortillas or pitas with plenty of toppings offer endless possibilities.
  • A taco bar with pre-chopped ingredients is another hands-on experience.

5) Bring comforts of home: It's OK to bring what you need to be comfortable. Disposable wipes to stay clean? Full-size pillows? Familiar toys? All are packable. Just make sure to keep to "Leave No Trace" principles and leave the site cleaner than you found it.

The bottom line: Camping is fun if you make it that way.

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