Family Camping Trips, What you need to know

June 4, 2019

Hey y'all! Summer is a great time to plan family camping trips. Your family was deeply involved in the scouting movement at one-time and planned as well as attended many campouts.  I wanted to take the time to share a little advice for parents camping with children. First things first, I would have to start with teaching their kids that safety always comes first, no matter what they are doing. Cars still need to be watched for in the campgrounds, along with wild animals, unattended pets, and three-leaved plants. When you finally reach your campsite, after hours of “are we there yet“ echoing around your brain like a hurricane through a Texas trailer camp, before even unloading the tent and sleeping gear, the food, clothes, and toys, you should first walk your children around the campsite, and explain to them where they are and are not allowed to go.

Camping with your family in the great outdoors, telling stories under blankets of stars and the colorful aurora borealis at night while sitting around the campfire is one of the more relaxing, invigorating and bonding experiences that make for great family experiences and memories. Being that you are in the wilderness, where animals so kindly share their habitat with you, keeping an eye on your children at all times would be a very important part of camping with children.

Taking the family and heading for a nice, lake-side campsite for a long weekend, or a longer summer vacation, you teach your children the proper ways to approach camping safely, making future camping trips more organized and safer. After a few years, the children may even have earned enough trust to walk around by themselves or to play at the supervised beach without adults trailing along.

A child's fertile mind soaks up the knowledge and safety protocols taught to them by their parents while camping in the wilderness, but they are still extremely curious and innocent by nature. When first arriving at a campsite for the first time with kids, parents must first explain the importance of never leaving the campsite without holding an older family member’s hand, and that staying away from the water, even if they just want to walk on the shoreline, is not allowed for any reason, no excuses allowed. If you have a dog, tie it up right away, and explain to the children that they can not go any further than the dog(s) can, or they will be grounded to the immediate campsite for the remainder of the day.

When camping with children, the fear of them getting curious, and then getting lost, can be crippling and overwhelming. The best ways of being able to keep in touch with your children when camping with them is to bring a set of FRS or other two-way radios. Two-way radios, come in ranges that transmit and receive from 10 miles to over 100 miles, and come with up to 50 channels, with dedicated emergency channels. Prices range from $20 to over $200.

With advancements in technology of late, smartphones can be literal lifesavers for parents camping with their children. Some two-way radio models allow extra hand units to be added so that all children can have one at all times. But for good two-way radio models, smartphones could actually be cheaper and are much more effective with the best applications (apps) for your situation and location loaded. If each child with you has a smartphone, however, make sure that they know to keep them with them at all times and kept turned on (having their favorite games loaded and running will help).

When you camp with friends, you see the beauty and wonder in everything around you, but when you, as parents, take your children camping, you see danger at every turn. Arrange your campsite so that the tent is as far from the water and the road as possible at the same time, and make sure that you can keep the zippers from your children‘s reach, or lock it with a child-proof lock. Make sure that the campfire has a high enough wall of rocks around it to keep children from accidentally walking through cooling coals, and explain to all of them the necessity of staying away from the campfire at all times unless accompanied by an adult.

Taking your children camping to instill in them the wonders of enjoying and respecting the great outdoors is a family tradition passed down from generation to generation. Any advice for parents camping with children have to be tailored to your specific family. Where some children are more adventurous and less honest, others may be totally honest and respectful of limitations placed on them. You know your family the best, so make sure that you are comfortable with the number of rules and the teachings that you have given.

Advice for parents camping with children would have to include having a GPS locator beacon transfixed to your child. It can be in the form of a watch, bracelet, ankle bracelet, necklace, and pendant, or other child-friendly models. There are other forms of child locators on the market, some of which are extremely helpful and work very well, and there are also some to avoid. Check Internet postings for information about the types that you have, or have in mind, and check reviews written by people who have bought them.

Taking your young children camping can be a terrifying experience if you are not yourself an experienced camper (think; “dingos got my baby!”), as there are so many dangers within a short distance of the campsite. Let your attention wander for just a half of a minute and your child could be well on an adventure of their own makings. Young, fertile imaginations at work in the deep woods can spell problems if the child is not constantly watched, and proper safety protocols observed.

Parents must bring any medications that their children have been taking, a child's first aid kit (available at all camping and outdoors stores, as well as pharmacies), and make sure that they all have all of their required shots. Ask your family physician, or your pediatrician if your children should have any special shots before going camping, or to take any preventive medications for where you are going. Strong sunscreen and bug repellents are also requirements for all children camping in the woods.

One last piece of advice for parents camping with children is to bring your utmost level of patience and a level temper. Try to laugh off problems, and show your children that camping is a place for relaxation and love, not flares of temper and hatred.

Camp safe, camp informed and enjoy your family time!

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