Over the weekend the family and I went camping in Gettysburg, PA. I found that camping with small children can be challenging so I thought I could offer some advice. In my last article, I gave tips on what to bring. Now I offer tips on activities you and your family can enjoy.

Family Activities You Can Do

Aubs and Matt sitting by a pond
My daughter Aubrey had a blast. I hope she remembers it.

If you were a camper before small kids, you won’t be able to do the same things you did until they are older. That means no white water rafting, cliff jumping, or rock climbing (You can if you leave the kids at the campsite). This doesn’t mean your days of adventure are over. It means that they are temporarily altered. Kids crave adventure, excitement, and fun. Depending on the season, there are ways of making sure they get that camping.

Hiking

The best way to get in touch with the outdoors other than camping in the woods is hiking. Some trails have attractions that allow your family to see things they won’t see from the site or at home. It is a great way to get some exercise as well.

Fishing

billy showing off his catch to the girls
My daughter (in the pink) with her buddy Addison petting a fish

It is never too early to teach your kids how to fish. You do not have to get them a real rod and reel. A simple toy will do just fine. This will get them used to the motion of casting and reeling. My family and I went camping on the beach called Cherrystone near Virginia Beach. We bought our daughter a rod for her age group. She did not catch anything with it, but you can see the excitement on her face when she felt a bite (It ended up being blue crabs tugging on her line). That’s what its all about; the look on their little faces.

Arts and Crafts

Kids are known for making huge messes. They are bringers of certain destruction when it comes to playtime. Since we want their creative minds to grow, we allow them to paint, color, and build whatever their heart desires. We do limit how much they create due to not us wanting our houses looking like a hurricane filled with paint and glue came through it. While you are camping, it is okay to let their artistic inhibitions run wild. In Gettysburg, we let the kids in our group make Halloween masks, paint them, and also paint their faces. Mom and Dad can even participate. Hey, the mess is the campground’s problem.

Campground Activities

kids dressed up for halloween while camping
Halloween is a great time to go camping. Bring costumes!

Unless you go to a state park, many campgrounds around the United States have fun activities for the whole family. They mostly have the traditional holiday activities for both kids and adults. They also have activities that don’t require Santa or the Easter Bunny. Many have rental activities such as canoes, kayaks, and jet skis. They may also have karaoke, arcades, and a water park.

Adult Activities

Camping isn’t only for kids. It is for the adults too. You too can enjoy all the activities camping has to offer. It gives you the opportunity to teach your kids about the basic outdoors, become one with nature, and bond with your family. It is also a vacation away from life. You can also have a great time doing the above activities with your kids, but you can also take time for yourself. Take a walk, take turns doing solo activities while the other watches the kids. Also, when the kids go to bed, time to bust out the beer, wine, liquor, music, and campfire.

In the End

Camping is all about memories and experiences that can be passed down from generation to generation. It’s a chance to leave the normal social construct of our lives and return to a more primitive lifestyle even if it temporary. It will give you the chance to teach your kids invaluable skills they may need. I wouldn’t bring small children too far into the wilderness where you are having them sleep in sleeping bags alone. You should wait until they are a little older. Camping with small children can be challenging. Being prepared with ways to entertain them can help alleviate those challenges.

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