The Amazing Life Lessons Your Kids Will Learn from Camping
Camping with your children can teach them lessons that will stay with them for life, whether you opt to rough it in a tent or go “glamping” in an RV or cabin.
Here are six ways to make camping educational, as well as fun:
Every Camping Trip Begins with a Plan
Planning a family camping trip is a lot of work. Where will you camp? What will you eat? What supplies are necessary? Preparation is required to be sure you have everything you need.
Lesson: Teach your kids lessons on strategy and goal setting, as they help create a successful camping trip. This is also a great opportunity for learning to do more with less, and inventing multiple uses for items to lighten the packing load.
Campsite Set Up Means Everyone Helps
Whether you’re camping in a tent, RV, or cabin, setting up the campsite requires everyone’s participation. Tents and RVs must be pitched, and everything must be unpacked and placed where it is easy to use but not in the way.
Lesson: Kids who help with camp set up will learn teamwork and how to restrain their actions for group benefit. Problem-solving skills are sharpened in the life-sized puzzle of organization.
A Tidy Campsite Stays That Way
Your campsite may look crazy in the middle of the day — with bikes, swimsuits, games and even snacks strewn about as everyone has fun. But once evening comes, neatness matters as anything left out is fair game for raccoons and other nighttime scavengers. Food should be moved indoors or placed in animal-proof containers, garbage should be disposed of, and outdoor toys put away or placed together in a somewhat protected area.
Lesson: Explaining to your kids what will happen if items are left out is a first- hand demonstration of forethought. While expecting them to take care of their own items teaches personal responsibility and respect of their own property, things aren’t so disposable when they can’t be replaced immediately. Instill tidiness by making sure items are put away properly.
Outdoor Activities Help Recharge Families Ties
A big reason families camp is to get away from their connected lives, explore the surrounding beauty, and reconnect with each other.
Lesson: Lead by example and show your kids that they can disconnect from technology. As they hike, bike or swim they will learn to respect nature. They may find that searching for tracks and finding real animals is more interesting than tracking Pokemon, or that an afternoon stimulating their minds by creating their own entertainment is quite worthwhile.
What adult doesn’t set out to camp with the thought of sitting in a chair, kicked back, eyes closed and enjoying the fine art of doing absolutely nothing? It’s the camping dream.
Lesson: Kids have a difficult time with silence and stillness; they think life must always be entertaining. Show your kids that it’s okay to be still — engage their imaginations by finding shapes in clouds, for example. Let them know that boredom is okay — it may increase awareness of your surroundings.
Gather Around the Campfire
It’s the nighttime ritual, family gathered around a crackling fire, marshmallows roasting, chocolate and graham crackers waiting. It’s the perfect time for talking about the day’s adventures or sharing stories.
Lesson: Possibly the most important of all lessons happen around the campfire. The ability to both speak and listen are fast becoming lost in a world of text and social media. Encourage your kids to talk, show them how to listen, and invite conversation. If your kids happen to realize that their parents are interesting, that’s a bonus.
Do your kids balk at the idea of roughing it? Or does the idea of using a sleeping bag make you cringe? Strike a deal with the family — a couple of nights camping, then a relaxing hotel stay at Holiday Inn. It’s the best of both worlds, and it may even teach a final lesson about appreciation and gratitude.