I didn’t grow up camping. My dad was a farmer and spent all day, every day outside, so for him, vacation involved staying in an air-conditioned hotel. As much as my sisters and I begged, we could never convince him to take us camping. I went camping a few times as a kid with friends whose parents allowed me to tag along, and have very fond memories of those trips.
When I got married and had kids of my own, I knew I wanted to take them camping. We began taking long weekend trips when they were just toddlers, and now that they’re teenagers, we still try to find time to get away on a camping trip whenever we can.
Here are 4 reasons why I think every parent should take their kids camping at least once.
They’ll Learn New Skills
Camping forces kids (and adults) to do things they don’t typically do. They’ll learn how to do things like start a fire, put up a tent, and keep wild animals out of the food and the trash. Anytime a child learns a new skill, it makes them a more well-rounded and interesting person.
They’ll Gain an Appreciation for the Comforts of Home
When your kids spend some time without easily accessible (or clean) bathrooms, a pantry and refrigerator full of food, or hot water on demand, they’ll gain a new appreciation for what they have at home. It might even help to make them more grateful and patient people.
They’ll Be Forced to Get Creative
Without things like phones, computers, and video games, your kids will have to find other things to keep them busy. You might not think your kids are creative, but you may be surprised what they can do with the resources of nature. My kids once spent three hours playing with some fallen branches and piece of rope they found. If they have some trouble figuring out what to do without some sort of electronic device, send them on a scavenger hunt. It will get them familiar with their new surroundings and hopefully spark some ideas for fun.
You’ll Learn New Things About Them
It’s not just your kids that will benefit from camping—you will as well. You’ll have plenty of time to talk as you sit around a campfire roasting marshmallows, while you’re on a hike, or as you play games at the picnic table. You’ll see a side of them that you don’t see at home, and they’ll likely open up about things they might not normally talk about. Some of the best conversations I’ve ever had with my kids happened while camping.
Camping is a lot of work. It takes hours of planning, and it isn’t as relaxing as other vacations you might take, but in my opinion, the benefits far outweigh the challenges. If you didn’t grow up camping, and aren’t sure where to start or how to plan a camping trip, connect with some friends or family members who camp and see if you can join them on their next trip. People who camp are generally happy to have others join them and teach them the ropes. Don’t wait for the “perfect” opportunity—just get out there and start camping with your kids!