During these times of social confinement, we are all, I’m sure, longing to get back out in the world again. And while out-and-abouting will likely look a little different for some time, enjoying the great outdoors seems like a good start. In my home, we are wildly anticipating summer camping trips (fingers crossed parks will reopen for overnighting someday soon).
These feelings of camping-related excitement are relatively new for me. Up until the last few years, my most recent camping trips had been while 6-months pregnant, then with a teething one year old, at which point I swore (likely as both a promise and a four-letter word) my camping days were over. And I did, in fact, successfully avoid camping for years.
Then the peer pressure of friends and family happily braving the star-filled nights of the beautiful Pacific Northwest started to make me feel like I was depriving my (now older) kids of magical adventures. So, we gave it a go, and now it seems we are camping people.
Follow along for 10 reasons why I now embrace camping with kids, and you might consider it too.
- Memories are Sure to Be Made. Anytime you do something wildly different than your normal routine (say sleeping outdoors rather than in your cozy home), you are sure to make a memory or two that your family will cherish for years. I’ll never forget my little daughter asking why we didn’t pack our toilet on her first camping trip, or the time a large group of (very friendly) Hells Angels set up camp in the neighboring campsite.
- Your Kids will Learn to Appreciate Life’s Simple Joys. Guess what; there is no WIFI at most campgrounds, which means your kids will need to find other ways to be entertained. This has proven surprisingly easy for my family. My daughter spends nearly every waking hour riding her bike, and my son is typically found fishing, playing cards with cousins, or reading by the fire. To-date, no one has ever noticed when tablet-o’clock hits.
Photo by MN Studio/Adobe
- Your Family will Learn to Appreciate Modern Conveniences. While spending time in the great outdoors certainly highlights how we overcomplicate our lives, it also has the benefit of a greater appreciation for modern conveniences. There is literally nothing better than a hot shower, clean clothes, and the comfort of your own bed after a few days roughing it.
- Nature is a Natural Tranquilizer. There is something so magical about camping, and I think a lot has to do with how time seems to slow down. It becomes abundantly clear that being in nature has a calming effect on one’s mood. I know my kids fight less, I worry less, and for a brief respite, all feels right with the world.
- Tree Shade is a Lovely Reprieve in the Heat of Summer. My husband and I are a mixture of Scandinavian and Irish descent, which has resulted in very fair, strawberry-blond children. Once warm weather hits, I feel like I’m constantly chasing my cherubs around with hats and sunscreen. Being under a canopy of firs, maples, cedars, or whatever trees surround a site, always feels like a lovely reprieve from the summer heat.
- Melatonin is Not a Myth. Unless you have a teething child, anyone who has camped can attest to the effects of melatonin. As darkness settles in, sleep comes quickly and varying bedtimes tend to fall in sync. Evenings are followed-by gentle morning wakeups to sunrise and singing birds.
- Pets or Typically Welcome. And by pets, I mean friendly dogs, although if you want to bring your pet hamster, you do you my friend. We always love when we can bring our family dog on vacations, rather than dropping her at the boarding kennel. Just make sure that if Fido makes the cut the he or she doesn’t bark incessantly (and drive your neighboring campers crazy) and that you pack a leashing system, as dogs are required to be leashed at most State parks.
- Campfire Cooking is a Fun Challenge. Fireside meals are a huge part of the camp day, and finding inventive ways to cook family favorites over a live fire is typically loads of fun. After the challenge of daytime meals are met, you get to settle into some campfire popcorn, smores, and maybe even a little Baileys under the stars.
- It’s Extremely Economical. Are finances a little tight, or are you simply wanting to book a last-minute family trip without a sucker punch to your savings? A weekend of camping will likely set you back less than the cost of a meal at Disneyland. And, should the dreaded stomach flu strike or if the forecast looks dire, a quick cancellation won’t feel like the end of the world (although likely still bring on a few tears from the kiddos).
- You get To Configure a Cool Camping Kit. I find pulling together a camping kit (a.k.a. a box of camping essentials such as matches, lamps, bug spray, etc.) with my kids is always a fun family activity. We print off a list (this is my go-to-guide) of essentials, then neatly pack, organize, and source all required equipment. If camping adventures happen more than ever few years, it helps to have a kit stored and ready to go. I often fill my box with unnecessary domestic duplicates such as can openers or boxes of playing cards, and slightly worn items like dish-towels from around my home, getting a little decluttering accomplished in the process.
On the fence about embarking on a camping trip with your kids? I hope the 10 reasons that ultimately changed my campfire tune inspire you to get out and under the stars with your family and friends to make some lasting memories.
Feature photo by Lightfield Studios/Adobe