Going camping as a family requires a whole lot of planning, but with a bit of organisation you can make your camping trip go more smoothly. Here are 40 sure-fire tips to make camping with kids fun that will definitely make your trip one to remember!
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How to Make Camping with Kids Fun
Camping as a family means preparation – but don’t be put off! A little advance planning will make sure you can free up more of your camping time to enjoy being together, have some new adventures and create plenty of memories.
#1. Get the Kids to Help Plan
Ask your older kids to help write the list of things to bring while younger kids could draw some things to bring.
Have a practice camp out if you can beforehand e.g. in the back garden or somewhere close to home so you can check if you need anything extra that you hadn’t thought of.
#2. Bring Activities for the Kids While Setting Up
Keeping young children occupied while you are setting up camp and getting organised is essential – hold back something new or exciting that the kids haven’t seen before to keep them busy.
Older children can be occupied with exploring jobs – going off to check out the facilities (eg picnic tables, toilet block, etc) and reporting back, or going on the hunt for firewood.
#3. Make Sleeping Time Fun
Get funky and cute (and warm) sleeping bags for each child and label them inside so each has their own.
Let them bring a favourite blanket and/or pillow with them, as well as their favourite cuddly toy for bedtime.
#4. Pack Fun Snacks for Kids
Make your own trail mix (we like these ideas for healthier trail mix on Greatlist.com) and get the kids to help mix it up and fill bags/tubs to bring.
Don’t forget the marshmallows for toasting on the bbq or campfire!
#5. Bring Glow in the Dark Items
Bring glow in the dark snap sticks or make some glow in the dark bubble mix for some after dark fun!
#6. Brighten Up Your Tent
Buy some solar fairy lights for your tents – they will charge up during the day and twinkle nicely after dark, plus make it easier to find your tent.
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#7. Bring Plenty of Outdoor Games
Keeping everyone busy and having fun is easy with a bunch of outdoor games to play at the campsite, eg, football, a frisbee, a hula hoop, swingball, Twister, skipping ropes, a kite, etc.
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#8. Do Some Stargazing
After dark take the kids to do some stargazing and see if you can spot a shooting star! Use an app like Star View to find out the constellations and planets you can see in the night sky.
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#9. Make Camp Chores Fun
Have contests like who can collect the most firewood or who has the tidiest tent space or who is the quickest to get dressed in the morning!
#10. Play Some Campfire Games
Evenings around a campfire are great fun! Have some great ideas for campfire games up your sleeve to keep everyone entertained, and then sit back and enjoy the fun.
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Fun Recipes for Camping With Kids
#11. Camping Pancakes
Make some pancake batter and fill baggies, tie the end, and then when you are ready to use just snip the small ends to use as a piping bag into the frying pan.
Did you know that the first recorded instance of a S’more recipe was back in 1927?
To make S’mores, you’ll need graham crackers (or you could use digestive biscuits), milk chocolate and marshmallows.
Place a square of milk chocolate on a graham cracker. Toast a marshmallow over the camp fire and put on top of the chocolate, then a second graham cracker on top of the toasted marshmallow and squeeze.
#13. Bananas with Chocolate
This is one of our family’s favourite BBQ desserts, and it’s so easy. You will need:
- tin foil
Just take an unpeeled banana and gently cut along its length through the skin. Stuff some squares of chocolate into the banana then wrap the whole banana in some foil and put on the BBQ. The bananas will cook and the chocolate will melt. Heaven!
#14. Potato Boats
Bake potatoes on the BBQ (or pre-bake them before your camping trip and bring them along), then cut the potatoes horizontally in slices and stuff cheese and ham or bacon into each cut.
Put a bit of butter on top and some salt and pepper then wrap in tin foil – after 25-30 minutes the potatoes will be warm and the cheese will be melted. Here’s a nice recipe on Echoes of Laughter for Potatoes with Bacon, Ham & Cheese.
#15. Taco Nachos
Use a foil tray and place tortilla chips topped with black beans or refried beans, then sprinkle on taco seasoning mix, tomato salsa and grated cheese on top.
#16. Grilled Mini Pizzas
Use mini pizza bases or pitta breads and top with tomato sauce, and your choice of toppings such as ham, pepperoni, olives and cheese.
#17. Spider Hot Dogs
You’ll need some hot dogs, a knife and some roasting sticks. Cut the ends of each hot dog into 4, leaving about 2 inches in the middle uncut. Stick your roasting stick into the middle of the hot dog and roast over the fire or grill. The ends will curl out as the hot dogs cook.
#18. Meat & Veggie Kebabs
Make up kebabs on sticks to grill on the BBQ – you can do meat ones with pork, chicken or beef with veggies in between e.g. peppers, mushrooms, aubergine chunks, or veggie-only with mushrooms, peppers, onion and tomatoes.
19. Mini Burgers
Make mini burgers which are easier to cook on a grill and easier for small fingers to eat.
#20. Snaky Bread
Snaky Bread can be made either with a packet of biscuit mix with water added, or bring along a plastic bag with a bread mix made of:
- 1 cup flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp salt
- Add 1 tbsp oil and then add water gradually until the dough is the consistency of play-dough.
- Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for a couple of minutes, until smooth
- Take a piece of dough about the size of a golf ball and roll it into a long snake.
- You will need freshly cut green sticks to cook the snaky bread on. Wind the snake in a spiral around the stick, making sure the dough is firmly attached to the stick and don’t make the snakes too long.
- Cook over the fire or grill, turning around until crisp and brown on all sides.
- Enjoy (watch you don’t burn your tongue!)
Useful Hacks for Camping With Kids
#21. Freeze Juice or Water
Either freeze juice cartons or gallons of water to use in your cool box as ice packs.
#22. Consider using Polenta instead of Pasta
Polenta can be bought ready-cooked, perfect for slicing and frying up in a pan or grilling over a BBQ.
Or you might like to cook couscous, which is very quick to cook – it only requires some boiling water and to be left for a few minutes to steam cook, instead of having to wait for pasta or potatoes.
#23. BBQ Starter
Fill a cardboard (not styrofoam) egg carton with ready-to-light charcoal to boost up your campfire or BBQ quickly and easily – plus the egg box is easy to transport.
#24. Mini First Aid Kit
Reuse a prescription bottle as a mini First Aid Kit with plasters, a couple of folded alcohol pads, a mini tube of antiseptic cream, and a couple of cotton balls.
#25. Tin For Toilet Paper
Use a coffee tin to keep your roll of toilet paper from getting wet or dirty.
#26. Hang Up Pots
Use a belt and hooks to hang pots and utensils off a tree or pole when camping.
#27. Try A Scavenger Hunt
Hand the kids scavenger hunts to have a go at while you get the camp set up, it will help keep them amused and out of your way. You could also try our checklist for fun outdoor activities that are sure to keep the kids busy!
#28. Use Foam Floor Tiles
Buy sets of foam interlocking floor tiles to put down on the tent floor, they will add a bit of padding to sleep on top of.
#29. Use a Shoe Organiser
Hang a shoe organiser to put all the cutlery and bits for the kitchen at your cooking space. Then just fold it up when you are packing up to save having to unpack and repack it.
#30. Make a Lantern
Stretch the band of a head lamp around a gallon jug of water and face the light inwards, the water will diffuse the light and shine it out again.
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Must-Haves for Camping with Kids
#31. First aid kit
#33. Head lamps for wearing to get into bed or to read by at night
#34. Small pop-up tent to throw equipment and stuff into
#35. Portable radio
#36. Wet wipes!
#37. Welly boots
#38. Big bucket to pop a toilet seat on to serve as a toilet to save middle of the night toilet trips
#39. Insect repellent
#40. Microfibre towels, easy and quick to dry out.
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What are your top tip for camping with kids? Leave a comment below and let us know – we’d love to hear from you!