7 Reasons Why you Should go Camping with Kids

7 Surprising Benefits from Camping with Kids

Camping with kids can be very intimidating.  What gear do you need?  How do you get everyone to sleep on the ground?  What about bears, or the dark?  These are definitely hurdles, but they don’t have to prevent you and your family from experiencing the amazing benefits of camping with kids!

You may be totally new to camping with kids, or you may be seasoned campers looking for affirmation for why you should camp more often! Either way, your family will benefit by spending time together camping.

campign with kids - two girls outside their tent

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Before our daughter was born, my husband and I determined we were not going to be like many of our friends.  Once they had babies, it seemed like they didn’t do fun things anymore.  Their excuses sounded like it was too difficult to pack the baby, the diaper bag, the car seat, the stroller, the portable crib, and all the other things, so it was just easier to stay home.

With this mindset firmly in hand, we took a road trip and went camping when our second baby was a mere 5 days old!  She slept in a suitcase beside our bed on the floor of the tent and we had a less than restful family vacation, but it set the stage for years of family memories! I’m not going to tell you it was easy or every moment was full of happiness and joy, but looking back at our memories, we have forgotten the struggles and sleeplessness for all of us in a cabin with a new baby!

Preparing for a camping trip isn’t necessarily a piece of cake to prepare for. You have to pack all the gear, make sure you have warm enough clothes and bedding, food, bug spray, a first aid kit, and some toys. Phew! Is it really worth it? Are the benefits of camping with family really worth the effort and planning?

Absolutely, yes! In between the lines of this article, you will see the memories that my kids have from our family camping trips over the years. These are the things they remember and talk about when we reminisce! Your kids will have similar stories – even if everything doesn’t go as planned! 🙂

7 Benefits of Camping With Your Kids

Camping with family provides the backdrop for building relationships and making memories. Whether you love to sleep on the ground in a tent or stay in a cabin in the woods or by the lake, camping with kids should be on your list of things to do, and here’s why.

●      Camping with Kids Builds Relationships

The first and foremost benefit of camping with your kids is simply to spend time together.  Getting away from home to go on an adventure together allows for anticipation, planning, and preparing for a special time together.  When you take the time to plan for a camping trip, you are also making a commitment to spend time together, away from the hustle and bustle of life.

Remember the time when we camped at the Tetons and the bear came through camp during breakfast? Dad took the hot frying pan with pancakes off the stove and we all jumped in the car. When the bear left, we found out that the frying pan had melted through the floor mat in the car!

Making the most of camping with your kids may require some intentional planning to set aside the busyness of work and the stress of daily life so that you can enjoy the time together.  If you choose a camping location that doesn’t have phone coverage and wi-fi, you may find it easier to really focus on your time together rather than being distracted by texts, email, and phone calls.

●      Family Camping and Fresh Air

Fresh air and sunshine work together to help a person feel happier and less stressed.  Clean mountain air (or beach air, or forest air) also seems to work up an appetite as well as help you sleep better at night.  It also helps to clean your lungs and brings clarity of thinking.

Remember when we climbed Mt. St. Helens and we got so sunburned even though we put sunscreen on so many times?

Plan your trip around things you enjoy doing as a family.  If you like to swim or canoe, plan your trip to a lake.  If you like to hike or backpack, well then, you might want to check out some trails close to a campsite. If your kids are old enough to help plan, make sure to include them in choosing what activities or places they would enjoy.

The more they are invested in the camping trip, the more fun you will have together! This is one of benefits of camping with family. You can all work together to plan your fun camping trip and all the outdoor activities you will enjoy together.

RELATED: Simple Ways to go Exploring Nature with Kids

●      Camping with Kids Under the Stars

There is something amazing about looking at the stars in the dark of a campground.  So often, you don’t even notice the vastness of the heavens and the beauty of the stars when you are at home because you are usually inside when it’s dark or if you live in town, there are too many lights to see the stars very well.

Camping often provides the opportunity to be outside in the dark, away from light pollution where the stars seem brighter and closer.  Taking time to look, really look at the stars is such an awesome experience

Depending on where you are camping, there are often ranger talks or evening activities that the campground hosts. These ranger programs range from nature talks, history of the area, and if you’re lucky, an evening of star gazing. Even if there isn’t a planned program for gazing at the heavens, you can create your own special time.

Remember when we camped at Rocky Mountain National Park and the astronomy club brought all their telescopes up to the mountain so we could look at the stars, planets, and the International Space Station?

Find a dark, safe, spot, and take a few minutes to let your eyes adjust to the darkness. Look for the constellations that you know, or get a constellation app on your phone to help you identify the stars. This is the perfect time to reflect on God with your kids and remind them about how big God is, and yet He cares for them!

Remember when we were so cold in the tent but we wanted to watch the stars? We stuck our heads out under the tent flap and watched the shooting stars in Death Valley?

Spending time outside can also help to regulate your sleeping schedule as the sunlight and darkness help to even out your natural rest and awake times.

Researcher, Kenneth Wright, has been studying the impact of camping and sleep and has found that often with only a few days of camping, your body will naturally shift toward waking when it’s light and going to sleep when it’s dark which can help reduce cases of insomnia and sleep deprivation.

The natural light and darkness of the outdoors help your body reset its natural sleep cycle.  You can read more about this study here.

Get your camping with kids checklist below along with this great camping themed activity bundle. All printable and ready to go!

Road Trip Games for Kids

●      What’s on the Menu When Camping with Kids?

Being outside in the fresh air just makes a person hungry and seems to make everything taste better.  Cooking over the fire or on a Coleman stove is another adventure that most families don’t experience at home.  We have had several bonding experiences that revolved around food. If you are planning to camp for several days, be sure to make a menu and pack carefully so you have all the items you’ll need.

Remember when it was so cold and we all sat in the tent while Dad cooked the spaghetti in the rain? Then, when it was done, he handed it to us through the tent door and it all slid off the plate on the tent floor?

Think about your family’s mainstays. Perhaps that is mac and cheese and hot dogs. Those are great camping menu items! There are lots of easy meals that you can eat while camping with kids. Pasta, soup, sandwiches, burritos, taco salad, pancakes, hashbrowns, scrambled eggs, etc. Basically, whatever you cook on the stove at home could also be cooked over a camp stove. It might take a little longer, but it will taste good because you are hungry!

RELATEDHealthy Meal Ideas for a Road Trip with Kids

●      Playing Together as a Family

Taking time to plan a camping trip and spend time together provides opportunities to play and laugh together.  Whether it’s swimming, playing in the water, geocaching, building a fort out of driftwood, hiking, flying a kite on the beach, horseback riding or riding bikes together, these times create a bond together with your family.

These together times are the stuff that makes memories and memories are what build a strong relationship even when your children grow older and times are tough.  These memories will be an anchor to tether their hearts to yours.

Remember when we built that huge fort out of driftwood on the beach in Washington? That was so much fun!

Even when things don’t go as planned or there is an unexpected event, the memories will still be there. Gary Smalley, family relationship expert, found in a study of healthy families that the one thing they had in common was camping. Because camping brings a family together through shared experiences.

RELATED: Family Vacations with Jr. Rangers

●      Sleeping (on the ground) in a Tent

Tent camping is definitely a bonding opportunity!  Whether you’ve all snuggled down for the night and then the youngest remembers they need to go to the bathroom (3 miles across the campground – again!).  Or you hear something walking around the outside of your tent. The rain starts to fall on the top of the tent, you have a sharp rock right underneath your hip, or the list goes on…

Listening to the quiet sounds of the night and the quiet (hopefully) snoring of your family members helps to put life into perspective. Somehow, life seems to slow down in these quiet night times. It takes bravery to sleep outside listening to sounds that are unfamiliar. It takes persistence to go to sleep in a new place, and it creates another bond when you’ve survived the night and the sun comes up and the birds start singing.

Remember when we went on the canoe trip and Dad thought he heard a mountain lion during the night? He got up and started a huge campfire to scare it away and then realized he had just heard the sound of the wood falling in the fire when he was asleep.

camping with kids in a tent under the stars

●      Family Memories from Camping with Kids

These are things of memories!  Family bonding times can come from shared difficulties, shared fear (of the bear on the way to the bathroom), or shared happy memories.  The key here is to share these times together as a family.

If you sat around our campfire for very long, you would hear many more stories in addition to the ones between the lines above. Our children love to go camping to this day. Even though we’ve been cold at night, the food stuck to the bottom of the pot, the frying pan burned a hole in the floor mat, we ate breakfast with a bear and so many other stories, these memories built relationships. Relationships are built over shared experiences, not over texting or sitting next to each other on the couch on your own device.

Remember when we went to 7 different National Parks in two weeks? Mesa Verde was my favorite!

These are some of the reasons to plan a camping trip with kids!  These are years of memories and even now, after camping with our kids for over 20 years.  They still want to know where we are going next because they love these memories as much as we do.  The benefits of camping with kids will last far beyond the actual event.

Why Should You Go Camping with Kids Now?

Even though the thought of going camping with kids might seem intimidating, the benefits of camping with family are great!  Camping with children provides the perfect backdrop for lots of memories, good food, playing together, shared experiences, fresh air, and good sleep. The memories you create together may be reminders of challenges (setting up a tent), bravery (sleeping in a tent in the dark), or sitting around the fire telling or reading stories, but they will be memories that bind your family together.

If you need a good camping with kids checklist, you can get one here in this amazing bundle of camping themed road trip activities, packing list and vacation journal. Add a little extra fun to your trip!

I’d love to hear about your favorite camping with family memory!  Drop a comment below. 

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80 thoughts on “7 Surprising Benefits from Camping with Kids”

  1. I live in Michigan and there are so many fascinating places to camp at here. Last year I talked about the possibility of going camping with my little family of 3. I bet we would make a lot of great memories. It would be nice to unplug from the electronics for a few days as well!

    1. It doesn’t have to be a long ways away to enjoy the bonding experience of camping together. It could even be in your backyard as long as you make it intentional to make it family time. 🙂

  2. We loved to camp with our kids when they were growing up! It was such a fun time and we had wonderful experiences that they still bring up! This summer we are already planning some camping trips with them… and they are grown! Camping bonds people together. I think much of that is because there are less distractions and we are able to truly enjoy each other while out in nature!
    Blessings!

  3. Such great reasons to camp as a family! We’ve only ever camped on our property, but it is such a fun way to build memories. And to let your imagination run…was that a cougar? Could that shadow be a bear? The kids sure have fun wondering at all the sounds and shadows!

  4. Well… I’m normally firmly in the “no camping for me” camp (ha, see what I did there…?) — but you’ve made some pretty great points here. I may have to give it a go. Thanks!

  5. Some of my favourite childhood memories are from camping trips! We would normally go every summer and it’s something that everyone looked forward to – probably more so than bigger vacations!

  6. I have actually never been camping, which most people are shocked by – at least here in the South. One day I think it would be fun to go. My husband went we he was a kid. Maybe we will make it a family trip with our future family.

  7. I can’t believe you took your 5 day old camping, that’s AMAZING for all of you! I love camping and family trips are hands down the best memories of my childhood.

    1. Looking back on it I can’t believe it either! 🙂 It was my husband’s birthday and we had been stuck close to home all summer with the pregnancy so he was very anxious to get out of the house. 🙂

  8. Yes! I love these! One of my favorite memories with my stepson was getting to camp with him during a Boy Scout event! Such sweet memories! Camping is a great way to spend family time!

  9. I loved camping as a kid. I admit, the thought of packing my family up and venturing out into the wilderness does make me a bit nervous. But you point out and remind me of all the unforgettable memories and experience you get with camping!

  10. I couldn’t agree more. I think spending time outside away from distractions is so important. I have such fond memories from my childhood from camping with my family and I can’t wait to take my boys camping when they’re older! Great article, thanks for sharing.

    1. Yes, well I’m not sure I would necessarily advise 5 days old but the my daughter was born the end of summer and my husband was really anxious to be able to go camping after being tied close to home for several weeks. We do love camping! 🙂

  11. I never grew up camping. It wasn’t until college when I really experienced the camping life and I fell in love. And I swore that when we have kids of our own some day, my kids would grow up in the woods!

  12. I love camping! We used to camp when I was a kid with a little VW camper. My parents eventually got an RV, but my husband and I have only taken our family tent camping. I’ve been using an air mattress since I was in my 30s and sleep just fine. But if I had to sleep on the ground, I probably wouldn’t be able to get up the next morning.

  13. All of these are such great reasons! I don’t love sleeping on the ground in a tent. It makes me get up super early just because I can’t stand to lay there another second. So I get the blessing of enjoying the sunrise, usually with a kiddo or two by my side!

  14. I adored camping as a young child and as I got older as well, with my own family! Awesome post!

    I love all your detailed info! Thank you for this post! It was very well written and I could feel your excitement through your writing!

  15. Oh yes! Food is totally better while camping and fresh air keeps you healthy! You need a good grounding experience every once and a while.
    …Remember when we went camping in 20 degree weather and I was sick to my stomach and didn’t know I was pregnant with baby #1?!

  16. I haven’t been camping since I was a teenager, but this really inspires me to give it a try with my family. My oldest has asked to take a camping trip a few times, and I think it’s time we make it happen!

    1. Put it on the calendar while your kids still want to do things with you! Soon enough they grow up and go off to school and get jobs and we miss those times together. Happy camping.

  17. I love to go camping! Being in nature is absolutely amazing (my new blog post is about it too actually). I like playing in the streams and looking at the sky at night, I’m obsessed with the night sky, I have no idea which stars line up to what I just know they’re gorgeous.

  18. We love camping as a family – as you say, so many memories of great times together. We particularly love the Lake District in northern England, so beautiful and green thanks to all the rain!

  19. i am 29 years old and have never been camping but always wanted to. I would love to be able to get my kids outdoors and go camping with them!

  20. My husband and I are not big campers but our son has been hounding us for the experience {we travel a lot….but we stay inside the relative luxury of hotel rooms} so when we made our summer travel plans to Yosemite in May, I was soooooooooooooo pleased with myself to book one night for us in a “custom camping” situation. 😉 We all enjoyed it but our son claims it still doesn’t count as camping. Where do you live? Maybe I’ll send him with you. 😉

  21. Sounds like a beautiful experience for a family to participate in. Thank you for sharing all the benefits of camping with your kids and family, very detailed and wonderful to keep in mind.

  22. We loved to camp when our children were younger–they are grown now! We slept in tents, cooked on a Coleman stove, swam in the creek, and sat by a fire at night. It was so peaceful and many memories were made. Great times!

  23. There is something magical about the camping experience—it provides a way to slow down, enjoy one another, and appreciate the beauty of God’s creation.

  24. WOw! I can’t imagine camping with a 5 day old! But, what a peaceful transition into life! I also can’t imagine going to 7 parks in 5 days! I love camping. Everything tastes better, it’s so peaceful, and so many good memories.

  25. You will definitely make some good memories when you go camping as a family! I couldn’t help but laugh when you mentioned the Spaghetti on the tent floor. Yup! Those paper plates never last long. My dad used to take me as a kid and I now enjoy taking our kid’s camping too. I can’t wait for my kids are a little older and we can do more adventure camping. We went backpacking a few years ago with my niece and nephew. There was a surprise flood and we ended up having to pack up our tents in the middle of the night (so we didn’t float away) and took shelter in a bush all snuggled together to stay warm till morning. It was a pretty crazy night but we sure have some good stories.

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