29 Family Camping Expert Tips | Canoeroots Magazine | Rapid Media
29 Family Camping Expert Tips Photo: Aaron Peterson

Whether you love to get outside on foot, by caravan or in the cockpit of your kayak, our family camping experts share their top tips and tricks for creating amazing adventures everyone will love.

  1. Your less-enlightened friends will assure you that kids mean your outdoor days are over. Step one: ignore them.
  2. Kids are never too young to get outside. “Earlier is better,” says outdoors supermom Alice Young-Clark—in some ways, it’s easier too. “We started at three months. There was no extra food or water to carry while nursing, although you do have to deal with diapers.”
  3. If you’re worried your terrific tot will become the tent terror of campground C by night, introduce yourself to your closest neighbors and offer earplugs. You’ll find most campers are just excited that your little one is enjoying the outdoors.
  4. For kids new to camping, make an adventure of using sleeping bags, pads and jacket pillows at home before a trip, removing this variable from the new experience. Set up the tent in the backyard to introduce them to it before embarking on an adventure.
  5. Pack just a little bit of home with you. Whether it is your child's favorite bowl and spoon or The Lorax for the thousandth reading, familiar items help anchor the idea that your family is home as long as you are together.
  6. Practice nonattachment and leave most toys behind. “Toys matter very little because kids gather many treasures along the way,” explains Young-Clark. “This way, kids learn to find and collect, and let go of things.”
  7. Offer some (pre-screened) options and let your kids help plan the trip. Do they want to camp at a beach or visit a waterfall? They’ll buy in if they feel like the trip is theirs as well.
  8. Nothing makes a camping trip more fun for your kids than when they can bring a buddy. The real bonus is for parents: whining is just not cool in front of your friends.
  9. Be realistic and know your child's limits. “The average time a kid will only spend 30 to 40 minutes in a canoe or on a hiking a trail, especially if they're under five,” notes author Kevin Callan. “We introduced our daughter to canoe tripping slowly by going on a half-day outing, then a full day, then a weekend, and so on. If you don't move up the ladder of progress slowly, your child will definitely come crashing down.”
  10. To make longer days with kids work, take lots of breaks and eat like hobbits. “In addition to stopping for anything interesting, be sure to take regular breaks for breakfast, second breakfast, lunch, snack, supper, and bed time snack,” says Young-Clark...


Screen Shot 2015 03 18 at 10.45.19 AMClick here to get 19 more expert tips in the Spring 2015 issue of Canoeroots and Family Camping magazine. For more great canoeing content, subscribe to Canoeroots' print editions and digital editions, download issues on your device or view the Spring 2015 issue for free on your desktop.

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