How to Survive Camping with Kids

Basic tips to help your family disconnect from technology and reconnect with nature.

Summer is the perfect time to pull out the camping gear (or borrow it from a friend) and set out to explore the great outdoors. With so many amazing camping spots within driving distance, a weekend camping trip is an easy and inexpensive way to add a bit of adventure and beauty to your family’s life. 

Just don’t forget the bug spray.

Preparation

A healthy mindset is the first step to making your camping trip delightful. You are possibly traveling with children who have never been camping before; it will be expected that they have lots of questions. 

Visit the library and check out some books about camping. “S is for S’Mores” by Helen Foster James is a favorite camping picture book. Even though it is an alphabet book meant for younger readers, the illustrations and accompanying text make it a perfect read for older children, too. “The Kids Campfire Book: Official Book for Campfire Fun” by Jane Drake and Mordicai Gerstein is worth buying for its recipes that will help you prepare the cooler, songs to sing around the campfire, activities to keep kids entertained and a whole lot more. 

As you pack, remember to pack lightly. Camping doesn’t require much: sleeping bags, old sneakers and clothes, matches to start the fire, a flashlight (for late-night bathroom trips or to ID those “scary” noises of things that go bump in the night) and a healthy amount of camp food. Especially pack the snacks!

Expect everything and everyone to return home dirty. This will be a sign of a good camping trip!  (Packing plastic bags can save you from getting the car unnecessarily muddy or wet.) 

Setting Up Camp

There is something so special about fitting your family into a tent after a long day of hiking, biking or swimming. The tent hugs the family as it fills with their sweet nature-inspired dreams. There are no electronics to interrupt the night, only evening critters making their lulling night noises.

As soon as you get to your site, unload and have the whole family help set up the tent. Make it a special experience and take your time. Model patience during the process; laugh at mistakes. Be sure that your tent is resting on a very flat area.

Creating a cozy space immediately upon arrival will lead to a peaceful evening. 

The Campfire

Before exploring too much, gather wood for the campfire. Many spots require you to purchase wood at the camp store or gather it from nearby. Most do not permit wood from outside the area because it may harbor an invasive species. 

Most campsites will have a fire space already set up. Your family may want to spread out a couple of blankets near the fire or bring camp chairs.

Explore

A first stop after camp has been set up is the camp store or visitors center. Not only will they have maps of trails and lists of activities at the campground or nearby, some spots also offer activity kits for kids so be sure to ask!


Follow Chicago Parent on Instagram

Steffy McCourt
Steffy McCourt
Steffy McCourt brings over 15 years of experience in education, parenting, and travel writing for esteemed publications like We Are Teachers and LA Family Travel. Recognized for her commitment to advancing literacy and writing skills, Steffy is honored to be a Fellow of the National Writing Project. She collaborates with educators nationwide to enhance teaching practices and empower student writers.
- Advertisement -

LATEST STORIES

Experience the Rainbow at Chicago’s Color Factory

The immersive art experience is a great way to add a pop of color to your family’s next outing.

Ready, Set, Bounce the City at Orland Square’s Traveling Inflatable Festival

Kids can bounce, slide and play on 8 exhilarating inflatables at the Bounce the City festival.

The Best Days to Fly Around the Fourth of July in 2024

For Fourth of July in 2024, fly on less busy days like the holiday itself or the following Tuesday to avoid the rush and save on airfare.

Celebrate Pride Month at Kid-Friendly Events in Chicagoland

Local spots are offering great family options to celebrate Pride.


- Advertisement -