The Parent’s Guide to a Successful Camping Trip with Kids

Camping Trip with Kids

Embarking on a camping trip with kids might seem daunting, but it is a gateway to fostering a deep connection with nature and crafting memories that last a lifetime.

For many parents, the idea of a camping holiday becomes both a challenge and an adventure—striking the delicate balance between fun and safety, necessity and simplicity. The symphony of natural sounds and the canvas of starry skies are just some of the treasures a family can share whilst tucked away at camping sites, delivering an experience that enriches young minds and creates a backdrop for family bonding.

The key to a successful camping trip with children revolves around meticulous planning, from selecting appropriate camping sites to mastering the art of packing. This article aims to guide parents through each pivotal step, ensuring that families are well-equipped for their outdoor excursion. It will explore essential topics such as choosing the right campsite, packing the necessities, handling meals and snacks, setting up camp, maintaining safety, and partaking in enjoyable activities.

Whether it’s a child’s first camping holiday or an ongoing family tradition, this comprehensive guide promises a smoother and more enjoyable camping experience.

Choosing the Right Campsite

When planning a camping trip with kids, the choice of campsite can make a significant difference to the overall experience.

Here are some key factors to consider:

  1. Facilities and Amenities:
    • Look for campsites with essential facilities such as flushing toilets, showers, and Wi-Fi, which can be found at family-friendly locations provided by The Camping and Caravanning Club.
    • Ensure there are dedicated accessible facilities if needed, and consider the convenience of on-site shops and restaurants.
    • Some campsites offer additional amenities like swimming pools and children’s play areas, which can be a big hit with the kids.
  2. Activities and Entertainment:
    • Choose a campsite that aligns with your family’s interests. If you love the mountains, lakes, or the sea, select a location that caters to these preferences.
    • Consider age-appropriate features such as playrooms, farm animals, and designated areas for ball games and bikes.
    • Look for campsites that allow campfires for an authentic camping experience, such as Sea Barn Farm or Low Greenside Farm Campsite.
  3. Safety and Accessibility:
    • Ensure the campsite has a clear safety policy, especially regarding water features and quiet hours for a peaceful night’s sleep.
    • Check if the campsite is pet-friendly if you’re bringing along furry family members. For ease of setting up, aim to arrive during daylight hours and choose a campsite that is easy to navigate, even for a motorhome.

Incorporating these considerations into your planning will help secure a campsite that not only meets the needs of your family but also enhances the camping experience for both adults and children alike.

Remember, there is no set age for taking children camping; however, thorough preparation is key when camping with babies, and ages four and up are generally ideal for kids to fully participate and enjoy the activities. By selecting the right campsite with appropriate facilities and a suitable location, you’re setting the stage for a memorable and successful camping holiday with your kids.

Packing Essentials for Camping with Kids

Camping Equipment with Kids

Embarking on a camping trip with children requires thoughtful preparation to ensure their comfort and safety.

Here are the essentials every parent should pack for a seamless outdoor adventure:

First Aid and Hygiene

  • A fully stocked first aid kit is non-negotiable to address any minor injuries or emergencies that may arise.
  • Pack child-friendly mosquito repellent and sunscreen to protect against bites and harmful UV rays.
  • Biodegradable wipes are handy for quick cleanups and are kind to the environment.

Comfort and Entertainment

  • Torch or night light to navigate the campsite after dark and for bedtime stories under the stars.
  • Bring a mix of family-friendly outdoor and indoor games to keep the kids engaged, no matter the weather.
  • For beach destinations, don’t forget a beach blanket, towels, and beach toys such as buckets and spades.

Camping Gear

  • Chairs for family socialising, unbreakable dinnerware for children, and high-quality sleeping bags to keep everyone warm at night.
  • Waterproof jackets and umbrellas are necessary to stay dry during unexpected rain showers.
  • Choose a 4-person family tent with a darkened room feature to provide comfort and privacy.

Clothing and Footwear

  • Essential footwear like wellies for muddy terrain and flip-flops or slip-on shoes for convenience.
  • Pack layers of clothing, including rain jackets, to adapt to changing weather conditions.

Sleeping Arrangements

  • Temperature-regulating sleeping bags and self-inflating mats ensure a comfortable night’s sleep.
  • Tents with darkened bedroom compartments are ideal for better sleep quality.

Cooking and Meals

  • Camping cookware such as the Quechua Hiker’s Camping SS Cooking Set and Primus Campfire Cookset are perfect for meal prep.
  • Don’t forget camping lights for visibility when cooking and enjoying evening meals.

Personal Items and Gadgets

  • Dry Kids Jacket and Trouser Set and Uniqlo Kids Airism UV Protection Long Sleeved Mesh Hoodie for clothing that’s both practical and protective.
  • Camping gadgets like the Travel Bottle Shower and Eurohike Mobile Mains Kit 2.0 keep everyone clean and devices charged.


  • For added comfort, consider bringing the Cocoon Air Core Ultralight Pillow and a folding camping table with stools.
  • Allow teens to pack personal care items and set reasonable limits on electronic device use.

Remember, the key to a successful kids camping trip is to plan ahead.

Create a checklist, pack extra clothes, and prepare meals and snacks. Ensure children stay hydrated with specialized mugs or hydration bottles, and maintain regular bedtime routines to keep the little ones happy and rested.

By covering all bases, parents can look forward to a memorable camping holiday with their children.

Managing Meals and Snacks

Managing meals and snacks during a camping trip with kids requires a blend of preparation and flexibility.

Here’s how to keep everyone well-fed and happy:

  • Campfire Cooking: Introduce the little ones to the joys of campfire cooking with simple recipes. Start with classics like s’mores or hot dogs, which are not only easy to make but also a fun way for kids to learn about outdoor cooking. A hot dog stick is an essential tool, perfect for roasting marshmallows or cooking sausages over the flames. For a sweet treat, try making campfire cinnamon rolls. Place refrigerated cinnamon rolls in a greased Dutch oven and cook them over hot coals for a delicious breakfast surprise.
  • Safe Food Storage: To avoid unwanted visits from wildlife, keep all food locked away when not in use. Teach children to eat in a designated area and the importance of cleaning up immediately after meals. This not only helps in maintaining the campsite but also instills a sense of responsibility in young campers.
  • Equipment Essentials: The right tools can make campsite cooking a breeze. A cast iron Dutch oven is versatile, ideal for cooking a variety of dishes, from soups to a hearty meal of kielbasa, beans, and red potatoes. Hobo pie irons offer a fun way to cook everything from sandwiches to pancakes. Don’t forget to pack a foldable cooking grate, thick hot mats or cooking mitts, sturdy cooking utensils, and tin foil for easy meal preparation.
  • Quick Breakfast Options: Mornings can be hectic, so pack a bag with assorted granola bars, protein bars, and breakfast biscuits for a quick and nutritious start to the day. For a more involved breakfast, involve the kids in cooking cinnamon rolls, sausage, and hash browns over the campfire using tools like hobo pie irons and hot dog sticks.
  • Lunchtime Favorites: Hobo pies are a lunchtime hit and a cinch to make. They can be filled with an array of ingredients, from classic sandwich fillings to pizza toppings, or even sweet fillings for a dessert twist. This adaptable meal requires minimal cooking skills, making it perfect for kids to get involved.
  • Snack Time: Prepare a kid-friendly trail mix that caters to your children’s tastes. Combine dried fruits, nuts, sweets, and cereal for a custom snack that’s both nutritious and satisfying during outdoor activities.
  • Hearty Suppers: After a day full of adventure, a one-pot meal like kielbasa, beans, and red potatoes is not only quick and easy to prepare but also feeds a crowd. Freshly cooked biscuits, easily baked in a Dutch oven, make a comforting side to any meal.
  • Dessert Delights: End the day on a high note with a camping classic like s’mores. Get creative by adding different toppings and ingredients to the traditional marshmallow, chocolate, and graham cracker combination for added fun around the campfire.By incorporating these meal management tips, your camping trip with kids will be both delicious and memorable, all while maintaining safety and simplicity at the campsite.

Setting Up Camp with Children

Setting Up Camp With Kids

Setting up camp with children can be a fun and educational experience, provided it’s done with safety and engagement in mind.

Here’s how to get the kids involved and ensure a smooth setup process:

Campfire Building

  • Start with a safety briefing, explaining the importance of keeping a safe distance from the fire and never playing with fire-making tools.
  • Show them how to gather wood responsibly, selecting dry branches that have already fallen to the ground.
  • Demonstrate the steps to build a campfire safely, from arranging the kindling to lighting it, always under adult supervision.

Tent Setup

  • Prior to the trip, practice setting up the tent at home. This not only familiarizes the kids with the process but also ensures that all equipment is complete and functional.
  • On the campsite, involve the children by giving them simple tasks such as holding the poles or hammering in the tent pegs.
  • When choosing a tent, consider features that cater to family needs, such as blackout linings for better sleep and separate bedrooms for privacy.

Camp Organisation

  • Assign age-appropriate tasks to each child. For example, older children can help with organizing the sleeping area, while younger ones can place ground mats.
  • Discuss and set boundaries within the campsite, making sure kids understand where they can safely play and explore.
  • Establish ground rules for the campsite, like where to store shoes or how to keep the sleeping area clean, and what to do in case they get lost.

By involving children in setting up camp, you not only teach them valuable camping skills but also foster a sense of responsibility and teamwork.

This approach ensures that the camping trip is enjoyable for everyone and that the kids feel like an integral part of the adventure.

Camping Safety and Preparedness

Ensuring the safety and preparedness of your family is crucial when embarking on a camping trip with kids.

Here are some practical tips to keep everyone secure and ready for the great outdoors:

Survival Skills and Safety Rules

  • Teach children basic survival skills such as building a shelter using fallen wood. This not only educates them but also provides a fun activity.
  • Establish ground rules for the campsite, like never wandering off alone, especially during twilight or nighttime.
  • Make sure kids understand the importance of staying within designated areas and using the buddy system when exploring.
  • Equip children with whistles and write your campsite number on their hands, so they can alert others if they get lost.

Health and Environmental Precautions

  • Apply sunscreen at least 15-30 minutes before going outside and reapply every two hours to protect from UV radiation.
  • Familiarize children with the local flora and fauna, teaching them to identify and avoid poisonous plants and insects.
  • Stress the importance of never touching, calling, or feeding wild animals to protect both the wildlife and your family.
  • Encourage children to stay hydrated with clean filtered water and to carry their own water bottles.

Emergency Preparedness

  • Keep a comprehensive first aid kit on hand and educate children on basic first aid procedures.
  • Ensure children know how to react in an emergency, whether it’s using technology to call for help or knowing how to respond if they come into contact with dangerous plants or animals.
  • Stay in touch using walkie talkies, GPS watches, or cell phones, and always let a parent or guardian know where they are.
  • Follow the seven Leave No Trace principles to preserve the environment and maintain campground etiquette.

By following these guidelines, parents can create a safe and enjoyable camping experience for their children, instilling a love for nature and adventure while prioritising safety and preparedness.

Fun Activities for Camping with Kids

Camping Activities for Kids

  • Nature Scavenger Hunts: Equip kids with a list of natural items to find around the campsite, such as acorns, feathers, or smooth stones. This activity encourages exploration and sharpens observation skills as they search for the treasures of nature.
  • Crafting with Natural Materials: Set up a crafting station where children can create art using items they’ve collected. They might make leaf rubbings, assemble stick mazes, or construct shelters for small toys, fostering creativity with the resources available around them.
  • Campfire Games: As the night falls and the campfire glows, engage the family in classic games that require no equipment. ‘Telephone’ can lead to giggles as messages get mixed up, ‘Would you rather’ prompts interesting conversations, ‘Alphabet games’ challenge the mind, and ‘Name that Song’ can turn into a sing-along session.
  • Exploration on Wheels and Feet: Whether it’s a stroll or a bike ride, traversing the trails around camping sites is a perfect way to discover the area’s natural beauty. It’s also a great way for kids to burn off energy and for families to spend quality time together.
  • Fishing Fun: Teach children the value of patience as they wait for a catch. Fishing can be a peaceful way to connect with nature and a thrilling moment when they reel in their first fish.
  • Stargazing: On clear nights, gaze upwards to spot constellations and planets. Use a book like Find the Constellations or the SkyView app to help identify celestial formations, turning a night under the stars into an educational experience.
  • Pebble Pets: With some paint and imagination, kids can transform pebbles or shells into pet rocks. Hide these creations around the campsite for others to find, or set up a gallery of these miniature ‘wild creatures’ for all to enjoy.
  • Shadow Puppet Theatre: As bedtime approaches, a flashlight can turn the tent into a stage for shadow puppets. Challenge kids to create stories and characters with their hands, providing entertainment that sparks creativity.
  • Glow Stick Games: After dark, games like glow stick ring toss or bowling become magical activities. They’re perfect for kids to enjoy the camping experience even when the sun has set.
  • Pebble Mosaics: Arrange stones in patterns or pictures on a flat surface. This quiet activity can be a collaborative project, resulting in a temporary piece of natural art.
  • Toasted or Roasted: Introduce a card game like Toasted or Roasted, where the goal is simple yet fun – to ‘toast’ three marshmallow cards. It’s a light-hearted addition to any camping trip.
  • Sleeping Bag Races: For a burst of laughter, organize a sleeping bag race. Kids can hop in their bags and race from one point to another, making for a memorable and energetic activity.Incorporating these activities into a camping trip with kids not only ensures that they have a fantastic time but also helps them learn new skills, appreciate nature, and create lasting family memories.


How can you Ensure a Camping Trip is a Success?

To ensure a successful camping trip, follow these steps:

  • Make sure to book your campsite in advance.
  • Check what facilities are available at the campsite.
  • Research the local area for activities and emergency services.
  • Plan your meals ahead of time.
  • Organise your camping gear efficiently.
  • Pack your cooler effectively to keep food fresh.
  • Incorporate the journey to the campsite as part of the overall experience.

What Steps Should I Take to Plan a Camping Trip with my Family?

When planning a family camping trip, consider the following:

  • Choose a suitable campsite for your family’s needs.
  • Reserve your camping spot early.
  • Ensure you are well-prepared with the necessary gear and supplies.
  • Aim to keep all camping areas dry.
  • Make plans for nutritious and enjoyable meals.
  • Assign responsibilities among family members.
  • Avoid over-scheduling activities.
  • Think carefully about whether to bring pets along.

At What age is it Appropriate to take Children Camping?

Children can generally start tent camping when they reach the age of three to four years, but this can vary depending on the child’s maturity and the family’s camping experience. It’s important to assess each child individually to decide when they’re ready for a camping adventure.

What are the Benefits of Camping for Children?

Camping offers numerous benefits for children, including:

  • Reduced stress and improved mood from spending time in fresh air and nature.
  • Increased physical activity and engagement with the environment.
  • Greater freedom and enjoyment of the outdoors.
  • Empowerment through learning survival skills, such as starting a fire.