Tips on camping with kids

Here are some tips from GO Outdoors to make your outdoor adventure fun and stress-free for the whole family

18 July 2022

Are you thinking of taking your kids camping this summer?

Camping is an amazing family holiday to try, with loads of opportunities for your kids and adults alike to have adventures. But even if you’re a seasoned backpacker, camping as a family is a definite change of pace! We got in touch with GO Outdoors, sponsors of the Camp Skills builder, for their tips and hacks on how to make a camping trip fun for everyone, including young campers.

If you see a must-have piece of kit, don’t forget to use your GO Outdoors discount! It’s available for all Girlguiding volunteers and parents.

Prepare and practice

Preparation can make or break any camping trip, but it’s even more essential with kids in tow. Getting your kit list sorted well in advance will help you have everything you need. Here are some suggestions:

  • A family-sized tent. Depending on the size, these often come with extra areas for storage, or integrated porches at the entrance, perfect for muddy boots. There are lots of set-up options, but inflatable tents will be much quicker to put-up when you get to the campsite. Ideal if you want to get the kids in quickly!
  • Children’s sleeping bags. Having a sleeping bag in the right size will help prevent kids getting too chilly, with cold air moving through the extra space.
  • Storage options. Clear plastic tubs are a great low-cost option. Having different tubs for games, snacks, clothes, and kitchen supplies is a great way to keep your tent nice and organised.
  • Snacks, and lots of extra water. Cooking outdoors can take longer than cooking at home, and if you’re out and about on lots of adventures, you’ll want lots of snacks to keep the kids going. Extra water is always a great idea too. You can use it for drinking, washing and cleaning, and if your tent is a long way from a tap, it will be really useful. Coolboxes can help keep everything chilled.
  • More clothes than you think you’ll need! Be prepared for any weather scenario, and don’t forget the waterproofs! If you do get caught in the rain, you’ll want everyone to have lots of dry, warm options to change into. It’s also a good idea to bring spare bags, so you can keep wet and dry things separate.

For lots of children, being in an unfamiliar environment away from the comforts of home can be a bit scary. Try having a practice run in the garden, or even the living room, before you go. It will be a good chance to practice setting up the tent, and get your children used to what camping will be like. It will also show if there are any last bits of kit you want to get, like sleeping mats, camp beds, or even air beds.

How to have a good time on site

So you’ve got your kit list ready, but what can you do when you get to the site? Here are our suggestions to get things organised, and keep the boredom at bay.

  • Pitch the tent straight away. If it’s raining when you arrive, you’ll want somewhere dry to escape to as soon as possible. It’s a good idea to keep the snacks accessible for this bit too! It might take a little while to get your tent set up and food on the go.
  • Try and get everyone involved with a job. Depending on their age, most kids can get involved somehow. They could hold up tent poles, or even help to hammer pegs in, with supervision.
  • Set up a hand and foot washing station at the tent entrance. This will help keep the dirt out of your sleeping bags. All you need is a tub or a bucket, but collapsible buckets work really well too!
  • While you're there, assign chores to keep everything going. Can the kids help with the washing up after dinner? Or be on ‘tidy the tent’ duty?
  • Bring lots to do! Of course phones and gaming consoles can tide you over if you’re desperate, but there’s lots of other options. Colouring books are a great idea, and there are lots of outdoor games and entertainment to have fun with.

If your daughter is working towards her Have Adventures theme, a camping holiday is the perfect place for her to try out some outdoor-focused Interest badges. Interest badges are a big part of our programme, and it’s each young member's choice which ones they want to do.

Have a chat, and see if there are any that appeal. Rainbows can have fun outdoors with the Nature badge, Brownies can get starry-eyed with the Space badge, Guides can explore the local area with the Geocaching badge and Rangers can learn some outdoor survival skills with the Bushcraft badge.

You can buy badge books for Rainbows, Brownies and Guides on our online shop, and you can find all the Ranger Interest badges on our website.