Getting out and about in the great outdoors with your family is a fantastic way to bond and grab some much-needed quality time together. The fun doesn’t have to stop when the sun goes down either; camping is a brilliant way to teach your children about the natural world, build their confidence, and equip them with skills they’ll carry with them into adulthood. Besides, it’s a great excuse to pull them away from their screens (if only for a weekend!).
No matter if you’re just contemplating a camping trip with the family or you’re already busy planning a summer getaway and looking for some extra inspiration, the tips below are sure to stimulate your children’s fascination with the outdoors.
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Make a campfire
Campfires are a staple of any camping trip, and children just love to roast marshmallows or listen to spooky ghost stories (as long as they’re not too spooky, that is!). While bringing your own supplies is perfectly acceptable, there’s a great deal of satisfaction to be gained from collecting firewood from the forest. Once you’ve got your supplies, arrange some seating at a safe distance, and you’re all set!
Campfires aren’t just great for relaxing with your family; they also help your children learn about teamwork (while they gather wood) and fire safety. If you’re up for a real challenge, try to start your fire with a flint and steel set, but if that’s a little too primitive, don’t feel guilty about using matches and firelighters!
**This is a collaborative post.
Go on a nature hike
Hiking through woodland trails and lush green meadows, snapping picturesque family photos, and bathing in the ambience of the countryside — all while the kids have a chance to burn off some of their (seemingly never-ending) energy. It might seem obvious, but the opportunity to embark on a couple of long, winding journeys on-foot should place high on the agenda of any family camping excursion. Provided your children are capable of trekking a few miles, a hike provides the perfect opportunity for them to learn about the wonders of the natural world first-hand.
Aside from a sturdy pair of boots and weather-appropriate clothing, there’s little else required to enjoy a family stroll. However, for a lengthy hike, we’d always recommend bringing plenty of snacks and refreshments, along with a roomy backpack to store them all in. Of course, there’s always the option of ending your walk with a hearty meal in a local country tavern (provided you’re not entirely out in the sticks!). It’s also worth noting that any hike can be improved with a pair of binoculars — wildlife is even more fascinating when viewed up close! You can find a great range of entry-level binoculars over at shopping.rspb.org.uk — we like the kid’s binocular range.
Play games in the woods
Dense forests can prove to be a wonderland of imagination for kids of all ages. Hide and seek is an all-time favourite, but if you’re looking for some inspiration, check out our little list below:
- Tag — an all-time classic with no need for an introduction… Just be careful not to run into a tree or get tripped up by roots!
- Stuck in the Mud — When a player is caught they have to stand still with their legs apart and arms outstretched until they’re released by another player going through their legs or underneath their arms.
- Target Practice — Draw a chalk circle on a tree and use Pine Cones or Acorns as ammunition.
- Sardines – An alternative to Hide and Seek, in which one person hides while the others count. If you find the hidden person, you join them and hide with them. Last person to find everyone loses!
For some extra inspiration, check out this comprehensive list of outdoor games here.
Collect leaves and other nature items
Children love to collect things, so why not feed this hunger by taking them on a trip out into nature to see what they can find? As well as teaching them about different plants and animals, this is a great way for them to develop a deep love for nature. The best bit? You never know quite just what they’ll discover. To add a twist, create a list of items for your kids to hunt for — think of it as a wildlife scavenger hunt!
Fancy upping the ante? Assign a score for each item on the list and turn the hunt into a competition. Children with access to a camera or smartphone can add animals to the list and take photos to be checked later — just remember to emphasize the importance of habitat conservation if they do happen to discover nests or burrows. As an extra added tip, you could encourage your scavengers to hunt for litter — 10 points per piece returned to mum or dad should do the trick!
Fishing is a classic camping activity that children of all ages can enjoy. Fishing trips provide the perfect setting for reconnecting with your family, while enjoying the sights and sounds of nature – and, of course, waiting patiently for that next bite! In the event that anyone is lucky enough to catch a fish, they’ll need to know how to unhook it — we’d recommend this quick guide from wikiHow.
Fishing gives your kids the chance to get hands-on with nature. Hours of fun can be spent catching and identifying the different species of fish that inhabit the rivers and lakes of the UK. From the stripey, spiny perch (be sure to use a cloth when handling!) to the slippery, wriggling eel… There’s no need to splash out (pun intended) — just grab a simple rod, some tackle, a little bit of bait (sweetcorn works great) and you’re all set. In the UK there is a requirement for adults to own a fishing license, but children under the age of 13 don’t require one. For kids over the age of 13, they will require a license, but it’s free — you can grab one at https://www.gov.uk/fishing-licences/buy-a-fishing-licence.