Introducing Kids to Camping

Summer has finally arrived at Lake Tahoe, and there is no better activity to enjoy with your kids than camping. Fresh air. Learning about animals and bugs and flowers. Running around, getting dirty. Swimming. Fishing. Camping has it all. And while your kids may resist the idea at first, they will eventually thank you.

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I saw a quote recently from a fourth-grader from San Diego who said that he liked to play indoors because that’s where all the electrical outlets are located. Don’t let your kid be that kid.

One of the most important things my parents instilled in me was a love for the outdoors. Exploring nature as a child helps develop an adventurous spirit that your children will hopefully carry with them the rest of their lives.

With all that said, camping can be pretty tough. You’re dealing with the elements, the kids are in an unfamiliar place and mini-hazards abound. So here are a few tips to make camping with the kids as easy as possible.

1) Start Small: You don’t want to wait until you’re in the middle of Desolation Wilderness to find out if your kid even likes to camp. So start small. Find a park or campsite within a twenty-minute drive of your house that allows overnight camping. Or pitch a tent in your backyard. This way, if things go south, it’s easy to pack it in. And take lots of notes: “Bring extra sunscreen and bug spray” – or in the case of us dads, “Bring sunscreen and bug spray.”

2) Make it Easy on Yourself: I’m not sure why, but when people go backpacking or camping, they want to get super-intricate with their food. Since just about everything tastes good outdoors, I just want something that will fill our bellies and requires as few pots to clean as possible. It’s also great opportunity to eat “special” things you might not serve at home: mac n’ cheese, hot dogs, etc.

3) Relax the Rules: Camping is not the time to enforce strict bedtimes or worry if your kid is getting dirty. Let them explore. Stay up to watch the stars. Make a mud pie (or as we call it, “pooh cake”).

4) Stay Positive: There are so many points during a camping trip, from the packing to the car ride to pitching the tent straight through to breaking camp, that will try your patience. Stay positive. If you don’t seem to be enjoying yourself, your kids will follow suit.

5) Start a Tradition: The options here are endless. And they can be as big as a place you go ever year, or as small as having a fireside talent show or making homemade ice cream at your site. The important thing is to create a memory and promote a love for the outdoors.



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