We know you might love to take your kids camping, but what do the kids get out of it?? It turns out, there are tons of benefits to loading the kids up and taking them to the campground.
We started camping with our older two sons when they were 11 months ago, and we took our younger son out on his first trip when he was a mere six weeks old.
Somewhere in there, we started our first blog, and some curmudgeon commented, “That’s all fine and good, but they’re never going to remember this.”
We were livid. Not going to remember it?? Of course, we weren’t camping at the time in order to make specific memories our boys would remember from such young ages.
So then, why were we taking our kids camping?
First, we count, too. Whether or not the kids remembered our trips, WE were enjoying ourselves. Plus, studies do show that the things we do with our kids before they can even remember it have an impact–an impact even larger than many of the the things we do that they can remember.
Now, looking back a decade later, we realized there really are tons of benefits to taking our kids camping. So much more than we even realized when the boys were babies!
This is a sneak peek from our new book, See You at the Campground: A Guide to Discovering Community, Connection, and a Happier Family in the Great Outdoors. Check out chapter 13 “What’s in it for the Kids?” to read more.
To hear more about taking kids camping, click PLAY on the media player above or search for The RV Atlas wherever you find your favorite podcasts.
Here’s our list of the top benefits of taking the kids camping:
The Gift of Flexibility
Over the course of the years, we exposed our kids to so many different experiences. From different types of campgrounds to different kinds of vacations to different places and cultures, we’ve seen and done so much over the years.
Our boys have learned to roll with it. Sometimes, we have electricity and water; sometimes, we don’t. Sometimes, we have massive waterslides; other times, we are in totally natural environments. We have all become more flexible about what we need to be comfortable and happy.
The Gifts of Sociability
Our boys have had the opportunity to make new friends over and over again at campgrounds across the nation. Honestly, this is really great training! Who knew that asking other kids to play Gaga Ball at the playground would help them develop the ability to be comfortable approaching others.
Now, whenever our boys want to find friends to play with, they can easily knock on doors and ask others to join them, and pretty soon, our backyard has a herd of kids. We seriously think this has shaped the culture in our neighborhood, turning it into one big campground…complete with Gaga Ball on our trampoline!
The Gift of Imaginative Play
There’s an idea that kids these days do not play outside anymore, but ours do. We think this is because they’ve been playing outside their whole lives. They know how fun it can be! At the campground, they’ve learned how to entertain themselves outside, whether it be skipping rocks, catching tadpoles, or just hopping on and off of a rock
The Gift of Physical Activity
Our first blog was named The Lively Little Campers because our boys were so very lively. All of that energy needs someplace to go, and we’d rather have them take it outside. Inside, it is just too much! When they were younger, they would get up at 5:30. It was torture.
Now that we know how to channel that energy, we really marvel at it and appreciate it. Last summer, our boys joined us for a 12-mile hike. While it wiped us out personally, the boys eagerly hopped in the pool and played for three hours! Amazing!
The Gift of Patience
While our boys may not have yet mastered the gift of patience, we think camping has helped them work on improving this important skill. Long car rides, fishing from the riverbank, walking miles to take in a view…all of these small activities help our boys develop patience.
They are learning that there can be a payoff in waiting. The good things in life are worth waiting for, and we are actively teaching our boys this lesson.
The Gift of Curiosity
Kids are sponges. You never know what they are soaking up. The more you expose them to, the better! Our boys’ teachers have been amazed by the tidbits of history and science they share that they picked up from our travels. And, on the flip side, we’ve paid attention to what they were discussing in school each year and looked for ways to make connections.
Plus, these interactions have made our boys ask more questions. They want to learn and explore more. We love it, and we hope they take that curiosity with them wherever they go.
The Gift of the Love of Nature
Our boys have not only developed a love of nature and the outdoors, but they’ve also developed a feeling of stewardship for the wild world. Our boys have spent years being exposed to natural wonders…and being taught to respect them. They know not to feed the wildlife and not to leave trash around their campsite. These are good basic skills.
We especially love seeing the awe in their eyes when something new amazes them. Watching the world through their eyes is truly the best, and we can’t wait to show them more of this world.
The Gift of a Family Narrative
We have been busy writing the story of our family in addition to writing about our travels, but we don’t write this story alone. Our boys contribute to this family narrative, and as they grow, they really have gotten more involved. Now, as spring approaches, they begin asking about where we are going and what we will be doing this summer.
Plus, when we lie down together at night or sit down for a meal, our boys share their favorite memories, they ask questions about something we’ve experienced, or they question what’s next. We love that we share these connections again and again.
Being a parent is a busy, busy job. We are all going so many different directions. But, camping is one thing that really helps us slow down and connect.
If you have enjoyed this, be sure to look for our book See You at the Campground. You can find it at all of the online sites and in many of the big stores. Or, find it in your favorite local bookstore! Check it out! Take a picture and hashtag it #SeeYouattheCampground.
See You at the Campground,
Stephanie + Jeremy