with them. Scouting groups and school
field trips may present your children with camping opportunities, but the
value of camping will be greatly enhanced if they see you participate.
with the preparations.
Work together on a checklist, choices of food and task schedule. Teach them
the basics of packing a pack, but let them do the actual packing. For day trips, help them put together a 'ready-kit' for their daypacks and give them a LifeStraw water filter so they can drink safely from lakes, rivers or streams.
modern conveniences behind. This means
toys, cell phones, CD players, gaming magazines and other distractions.
Instead, give them field guides, knife, compass, magnifying glass, fishing
gear and inexpensive outdoor gear.
each child a journal. Set aside a time
each day, perhaps before bed, for them to enter their personal reflections,
sketches, anecdotes and ideas for the next day. A personal journal helps
the child focus on the camping experience; it also becomes a treasured keepsake
for years to come.
them the serious jobs. Kids can learn
quickly how to set up the tent, prepare the fire, secure the food. With
some forethought, you can anticipate their problems and offer discreet guidance.
Set them up for success.
Let them make
If the tent collapses, defuse their embarrassment with a laugh and tell
them it happens to everyone. Don't be a know-it-all. Let nature teach. Children
will learn best using all five senses, not just by listening to you.
overly ambitious goals.
Lower your sights for awhile. For example, as a fisherman you may keep
pushing for better spots and bigger fish, but to catch any fish is a
noteworthy accomplishment for a youngster. And if you see that fish
through the child's eye, no matter what size, it will be a 'keeper'.
Take a photo of the catch.
their catch. No matter how small the
fish, treat it with respect. Clean and cook the fish with care, use all
the seasonings and garnishes. Accept their offer to share the "meal".
them lead the hike. Read a topo map
together, and study the compass. You should plan the course, but let the
children take turns at lead. Remember the journey is more important than
the destination - let them stop and explore anytime their curiosity chooses,
turn back if the destination seems too far, celebrate what you experience
rather than how far you got.
the children create the entertainment.
Campfire entertainment is one of the most memorable
parts of the camping experience. Encourage them to participate with songs,
skits or storytelling. Notice and applaud their efforts.
them make their own shelter. Kids will
naturally want to create a place of their own. If they're bold enough to
want to spend the night in their A-frame or lean-to, give them a bug net
and flashlight, and check on them periodically without them being aware.
Acknowledge their fears.
The camping experience, especially at night, usually includes strange noises
just outside the tent. When your child wakes up to report a strange and
scary sound, avoid the temptation to say "It's nothing, go back to
sleep". Get the flashlight and explore the source of the sounds; there's
often something interesting to discover, and you'll diffuse their fear of