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Old 03-02-2013, 02:38 PM   #1
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Tips and Tricks of Camping with kids!

I'm sure most of us got started camping when we were kids, and you've either continued the tradition through the years with your family now, or maybe you're just getting back into it and want to introduce your family to a new lifestyle and weekend getaways. I thought I would start a thread to help each other out with tips and tricks for camping with a family that includes children of all ages, infants to teenagers. What types of things do you do to keep kids entertained? What duties do you assign to your kids? Is there anything specific about RVs that you wish was invented or included? This thread has many possibilities, and I'm sure whether you're a Newbie or an Old Pro, we can all learn something.
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Old 03-02-2013, 03:44 PM   #2
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14 & 16 year olds. one of the things we've done is get them involved in picking where we're going. That allows them to get excited as the time draws near. Then always discuss the best things about the campground as if they knew how great is was gonna be. Makes them look into the next trip (via the net) a little more and the kids then find stuff for Mom & Dad to do as well.

We also have always been spontaneous on our trips. Even if the wife and I weren't interested, if the kids both wanted to stop and check out something we would. Not every time, or everything. Just enough to keep them happy and give them something to look forward to next trip.
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Old 03-02-2013, 04:58 PM   #3
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Good thread idea ttrost65. My kids are 15 and 17, so I'm sure I'll be returning to the thread for suggestions. We've camped in tents quite a bit but the trailer was new last August so this summer's camping experiences will be a little different.

I like the idea that RPAspey had about including the kids in the planning. I tend to be too controlling in the planning stage so maybe I'll let them do all the research and tell me where we should go, within reason of course. Being spontaneous is also a great idea. Last summer we took a family vacation and drove to Branson, Missouri from Massachusetts. (Great place by the way, I can't wait to go back someday.) On the drive to and from Branson, we had planned points of interest stops that included places like "Where Ducks Walk on Fish", a fire breathing dragon, several really big chairs, and a field of six foot tall ears of corn. We used Roadside America to locate those roadside oddities but we also allowed for the kids to have us stop anywhere they thought we would find something interesting. We found that simple action had the kids actually looking out the window of the car rather than into their phones and/or games. We found all sorts of tourist traps, family restaurants, and scenic locations that we could never have known about even with internet planning.
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Old 03-02-2013, 06:04 PM   #4
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Great tip about them having input on where to go, especially as they get older. We found that it you keep them active and interested they don't get bored and sleep better at night. As ours got older they gained more responsibility (jobs) when setting up/taking down. Nothing like a 10 yo cranking up a pup or cranking down the stabs. They think it's soooo cool! Helping start the fire IMO is a life skill as is making sure it's out before going to bed. They grow up too fast so savor every trip!
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Old 03-02-2013, 06:14 PM   #5
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We have 4 kids B6, G10, G12, G13. Just got back into camping last fall. Most of our summer is spent with the middle two playing competitive softball but when we camp.

The kids love to help set up the trailer. Middle 2 are better backing assistants then DW. They also like to cook and are proud when new things work out.

Required duties are washing dishes, taking out the garbage and walking/taking care of the dogs.
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Old 03-02-2013, 07:37 PM   #6
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Have two girls 5 and 7. Have been camping with them since our youngest was a baby. First and foremost, camping with friends that have children around the same age always makes it a great trip. We make sure and pack coloring books, have a set of continually replenished arts and crafts in the camper, and have them bring some of their toys along. We usually take an EZ up canopy with a bug screen and ground mat so they can play inside it (seems to turn into a gathering place for other campers and kids we meet along the way.)

For hot months we have a snow cone maker that is a real hit all around. We also have brought an ez bake oven with to keep them entertained. Of course there are playgrounds, scooters and bikes.What they really love is when the DW and I ride our bikes and tow them in the bike trailer. They also love the little wagons we got one trip from a dollar store to collect sticks, rocks and pinecones and catching lightning bugs, caterpillars, and butterflys with the nets we got during that same trip.

While they dont have any duties yet besides keeping their room picked up, I am sure it will start soon. Another thing is late night movies with our projector and a sheet hanging from the awning. That really attracts the kids from all over.
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Old 03-02-2013, 07:38 PM   #7
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I should add they ask when we are going camping again all the time, which tells us they love it!
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Old 03-02-2013, 07:50 PM   #8
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I really like the idea of getting kids involved in planning the trip. I may have them do an entire trip this summer. My kids are g6, g16, g 17, b 20, with the oldest in college, so he doesn't get out with us that much. We just got back into camping last year so I'm still working at keeping them busy and entertained. The oldest girls are pretty easy going. The youngest is a ball of fire, completely spoiled, and has to be busy all the time. I do get her involved in cooking, she loves to help. Chili day is something she looks forward to. Last year we decided to camp on our spring break in Ft Myers instead of staying at the family vacation home. Was the best decision we ever made. The oldest ones can come and go as they please, the youngest just wants to play on the beach. The 2 oldest usually take friends along also, so we have a full house. One thing we do at night is have movie night. Outdoor projector and 8' screen, the kids (and adults) come from all over campground, set up a chair and watch. It helps kids break the ice with each other, and they usually then have a playmate for the weekend, and gives the parents a break also.
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Old 03-02-2013, 07:54 PM   #9
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Another thig is late night movies with our projector and a sheet hanging from the awning. That really attracts the kids from all over.
That's brilliant Cowboy! I must have been typing when you posted. I got sidetracked by a little girl mid post.
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Old 03-02-2013, 08:06 PM   #10
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We use to take our oldest granddaughter with us on camping trips (she out grew us with college and a baby on the way). It was her job to make sure that we where on the right road, plan when we needed to stop for breaks and tell us interesting facts and places to see. She helped plan most of the trip and she learned to read a map.
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Old 03-02-2013, 08:32 PM   #11
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Our two boys still camp with us when they can ages 25 & 28 & our other daughter 28 (older sons wife) & ...... will have another little camper very soon............

We started camping when the boys were young went to places that had alot for them to do..... Lancaster Co PA ....Amish, Trains, History, Pretels, Flea & Farmers Markets much more. The older son leaned to ride his bike without training wheels on one trip there. I also took the boys for a guys week, along with a friend of theirs when they were a little older about 10-12...that was a blast.......................
They have always had their duties as well..........

Also in there teen years the beach (Myrtle Beach) became the main destination..... We live in the country in a small area so the outlets at the beach became part of the equation for their schoool clothes (they earned the $ to buy).........

Of course we always have gone other places as well.......

Video Games & Movies have always been a part of the travels....
We have them choose some of the activities & places we go.

We still talk about the good times we have had camping when the boys were young..................


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Old 03-02-2013, 11:57 PM   #12
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Our DD is 5 yrs old. We started when she was 3. A must for us was having enough space in the TT that we didn't trip over her or the dog on a rainy day. We have toys, books and stuffed animals that stay permanently in the TT so that she doesn't tire of them. We keep a soccer ball and small net, corn hole, bubbles and a few other odds and ends for her to do outside but on a rainy day nothing beats galoshes and a raincoat for stomping in mud puddles. Family bike rides are a lot of fun and the trail gator device (http://www.trail-gator.com/) is great for hooking her bike to mine when she tires. I try to make sure the majority of campgrounds we visit have nice playgrounds for her and in the summer, somewhere to swim is key. We also look for campgrounds with planned kids activities but a state park is good for a nature lesson or two. She likes to help with sweeping and setting up for dinner but roasting marshmallows is a favorite. We also keep movies in the TT for rainy evenings.

I was worried about her falling out of her bunk early on but the opening for the bunks in our TT was too small for a bed rail. We took the cushions off the dinette and placed them on the floor so falling out of the bottom bunk wouldn't hurt. The bunk space is difficult to light with a nightlight so we put glow in the dark moon and star stickers in there for DD. made it a lot less scary for her.

Watch the little ones close, I was messing around in a cabinet organizing something and DH had taken the trash out when DD decided to take herself for a walk. She made it 2-3 campsites down the lane before we could get her. Some will use baby gates to lock the door, we just trained her out of it. You can also put a piece of plexiglass on the bottom part of the screen door so little ones don't push through the screen door. I have heard some mention folding down the dinette and placing pack and plays there for little little ones to sleep.

For traveling, the portable DVD player and ipad nabi (iPad designed for kids w/kid safe web pages, games etc) have been lifesavers. She has headphones so what she is doing isn't annoying or distracting. We also have a travel game of bingo that has us hunt for things on the trip (ie cows, plane, etc). I also loaded kids games on my droid.

We have learned to plan in a stop every 2 hrs and limit liquids to prevent potty accidents. Be ready to hit the shoulder at any time or know what is coming up at the next exit for potty breaks. We also keep snacks readily available. Be aware eating meals in the car doesn't work so well when they are that small so if the trip warrants we plan a longer break in to eat lunch in the TT at a rest stop or truck stop or somewhere of the like. This stop is a good place to get some energy out. If you have a pet, have her come along on the potty walk. If raining, wander inside the shop at the truck stop and talk about the interesting things you find. Try to plan trips during nap time to get them to sleep some of the time. The one in the passenger seat is responsible for keeping DD occupied while the driver focuses on towing the 30' monster behind us.

During set up, take down, hooking up, leveling, slides going in and out etc DD knows she must stay in TV, TT or on the picnic table. We both watch for her, but one takes responsibility during these tasks. DD also thinks sitting on the sofa while the slide moves is a fun ride. Hope this helps other parents.


Ps first trip out DD locked the door to the bathroom with no one in it. Took us about an hour to disassemble the door handle to get back in. Then DH had to reassemble it. You may want to switch the door handle to one with no lock on it.
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Old 03-03-2013, 12:14 AM   #13
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Watch the little ones close, I was messing around in a cabinet organizing something and DH had taken the trash out when DD decided to take herself for a walk. She made it 2-3 campsites down the lane before we could get her. Some will use baby gates to lock the door, we just trained her out of it. You can also put a piece of plexiglass on the bottom part of the screen door so little ones don't push through the screen door.
Good call on this. Had a friend whose son was resting up on the screen door while we were camping one day. Had his hands in his pockets and the door opened. He fell down a couple steps and face planted on the concrete pad below. We watched his sister while his mom and dad took him to the hospital. He was fine, just needed some Tylenol and time to heal. After that we all put eye hooks up high on the doors to keep them more secure than the plastic release latch (also keeps the kids from leaving as you experienced.)
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Old 03-03-2013, 12:44 AM   #14
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Thought of something else....a baby monitor becomes a valueable tool for when parents want to go around and sit by the campfire.
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Old 03-03-2013, 12:59 AM   #15
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Thought of something else....a baby monitor becomes a valueable tool for when parents want to go around and sit by the campfire.
X2 on that. We were able to camp w/ friends and with leaving the watch dog in the TT and using a baby monitor we could hang out next door with our friends while dd slept.
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Old 03-03-2013, 05:26 AM   #16
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We've got 2 boys ages 4yrs and 5 months. Motorola makes an infrared camera baby monitor that you can add extra cameras that you can maneuver with the rechargeable color monitor. One inside where the baby is sleeping, and the 4 yr. old likes to play on the rug right outside under the awning with his monster trucks so we can place one here also. You can select which camera you want to hear and see of course plus you can use the monitor as a PA system with a push of a button. A little pricey but worth every penny. At home we put the extra camera in the upstairs play room. With the ability to turn the camera side to side and up and down there's no hiding from us.
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Old 03-03-2013, 07:31 AM   #17
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We started camping when our youngest son was out of diapers. He was 3 then. He's now 37 and still camps with us, in our 5er with his wife and daughter and now a fairly new son. Our daughter is now 40 and camps with us, in her new TT with her hubby and 2 sons. Our oldest son is now 42 and he camps with us in his TT(looking at a toy hauler) with his wife and our grand daughter dog. The only problem camping with our 2 oldest is having to travel 2000 miles to do it. When we camp with our kids, we dry camp. If you want it you have to bring it. Last summer we dry camped for almost 3 weeks in the Rockies. Now myself and the boys , when they got older, dirt biked, so that kept their attention. My wife and daughter usually stayed in camp with the rest of the women folk. When I retired, we bought an ATV and then the wife and I put on about 30 miles a day, putsing along, enjoying the scenery and the places I dirt biked for 30 years or so. The group we most always dry camp with now have their kids and grand kids camp with them also, so the tradition carries on. The forest kept them all busy when they were small. Now we don't have the quad anymore and my youngest sold his so it's almost back to when we started...only we have something bigger than a hard top camper with 3 kids and 2 bouviers.(dogs ) The baby monitors are wonders now and we have used them. Will use them again with our 10 month old grandson. As the kids got older it wasn't all peaches and cream when we went camping but they still camp and now bring their kids along. It's rough, roughing it with flat screen TVs, AC, microwaves, gennies. Miss cooking over the open fire but progress is progress . Stay safe all and enjoy the outdoors with your families.
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Old 03-03-2013, 11:07 AM   #18
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Just thought of something else that I came across last year. We had a 2 wheeled bike trailer for our daughter, problem was, I didn't like riding in a bike lane or in beach traffic, with it being so wide. I ordered a Weehoo bike trailer and it works great! Perfect for the older child that can ride a bike, but you don't want riding in traffic. My daughter at 4/5 could pedal the Weehoo and propel me. This works as a great transition from a bike mounted carrier to them riding alone.
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Old 03-03-2013, 06:06 PM   #19
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Also keep extra diapers or pull ups in the camper in case you forget to pack them. We have been in the middle of nowhere and discovered we forgot pull ups at bedtime. Nothing like potty training on the fly.
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Old 03-03-2013, 06:39 PM   #20
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Two other things that I've done with the kids while tent camping that will work great with any type of camping are "creative cooking" and star gazing.

The creative cooking involves letting the kids make a sandwich of their choice using a campfire sandwich maker (internet acquired image below).

After the first few times with help from mom and dad, the kids wanted to start experimenting so they were "willingly coerced" into helping plan the meals and go shopping. As we would walk through the store, they would say things like "Can I make a sandwich out of M & M's?" Being one to love an experiment, we would try. Right now their favorites are white bread, barbecue sauce, and mozzarella cheese (we call them pizza pockets) and multi-grain bread, Gouda cheese, and hot pepper jelly.

When we first started star gazing we would use a hand held chart and a book. It was okay but now we use an app on the smart phones called Sky Map. It was free and it is really easy to use as well as informative. Its like being at a planetarium while being outside. My daughter and I have even been star gazing at home, something we never did before the Sky Map.
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