A lot of us remember how our parents would take us away for a weekend, or even a week or so, to go camping. They’d make us get right into the nitty-gritty of camping, from helping out with the campfire to setting up for cooking and sleeping.
While doing this can be hard work as a kid, it taught us the essential skills of camping that we still use to this day. Not only that, but it helped us make the most of camping and get so much enjoyment out of it.
Now it’s your turn to do the same for your little ones. By assigning them age-appropriate tasks to do at your campsite, and explaining every task step by step, you are teaching them skills that will last a lifetime (and make setting up camp a whole lot easier for yourself!).
Sure, they may whinge about it a bit, but once they see how wonderful camping can be, they will be forever grateful that you took them there.
Mars Campers has some great tips on what you should teach your kids about camping while you’re enjoying your getaway. Let’s get started!
First thing’s first; make sure you’ve packed everything you need, or rather make sure your kids have packed everything. Since your kids will be new to camping, they should know what things to bring along.
Emphasise how important it is to that they have packed everything to be fully prepared for staying in the bush. This will give your kids a sense of responsibility for the wellbeing of both themselves and the family.
Showing your kids what to do not only helps for this camping trip; it will also prepare them for future camping trips where they will be able to pack everything without asking for your help.
Show the kids where the necessary items are and how to pack them properly. Such items include clothes, food, sunscreen, first aid kit, tent equipment, sleeping bags, hiking equipment, cooking equipment, bug repellent, and whatever else you want to bring along. If your kid’s still pretty young, you’ll still need to help them, especially with heavy items.
Write a checklist for your child to use so they can see what needs to be packed and check it all off to ensure nothing’s been forgotten in the packing process.
However, since they’re new to it, you should look at what their packing to make sure everything’s there and packed correctly before heading off.
Like with packing everything correctly, your kids need to learn how to unpack everything too. Give them the easier unpacking tasks like putting the chairs and tables out and setting them up.
As your child gets older, you can get them to do the harder unpacking tasks required to set up your campsite. This includes pitching the tent, perhaps the most essential camping skill there is. It may be a little tricky to have them actually help you around the trailer, but explaining to them the importance of a good set up and how it works will get them prepared for when they are able to be of more help!
Show them how to choose a great site and what things to be on the lookout for. Think about the things you might feel are obvious but for someone completely new they just don’t know. Are you on level ground? Have you unclipped every latch, clip and rope? Getting them to these menial tasks not only gets the job done, but it also helps to build both their skills and confidence.
As they get older who knows, you may be able to get them to unpack the whole site? But even if that never occurs, Mars camper trailers are quick and easy enough to set up regardless.
Humans have been using fire for around 400,000 years, and there’s good reason for that. Fire keeps us warm; it helps us to cook food and provides some light at night.
Knowing how to safely light a fire is an essential skill that your kids will need to know if your family regularly goes camping throughout the year, but especially during cold winters. Of course, it’s a lot of fun too!
Tell your kids that a campfire should be built at least 2 metres from tents or cars, and at least the same distance away from grass, trees, and bushes. If you aren’t able to find any open areas that are suitable for a campfire, clear the area of grass and branches, or do some digging if need be.
The most common methods of lighting a fire nowadays are using matches and lighters. However, considering that you’ll be out in cold and wet weather, it’s possible that they will get damp and become useless.
So, make sure you keep your matches and lighters in a secure place where they will remain dry. But no matter how you light your campfire, you must have wood to burn to begin with. You won’t get very far without it.
While getting little kids to chop wood is out of the question, you could get a teenager to help you with this. However, if your kids are primary school age, they can still help by collecting and stacking wood.
Burning material such as tinder is readily available in the bush, like leaves, dry grass, dry bark, and wood shavings. Keep in mind that big logs do not catch fire easily, so use small sticks to start with.
Get some wood to put on top of the tinder, as the tinder will help the wood burn quicker. If you can’t get any logs, small branches and twigs are fine, but only use dry ones as wet ones will make the fire smoky. You could bring some newspaper from home to help with this too.
This may go without saying but keep a close eye on your kids when they’re doing all this. As the old saying goes, if you play with fire, you’re going to get burnt. Make sure your kids don’t muck around while making the fire or when they’re close to it.
On that note, your kids must learn about basic fire safety. They should never leave a campfire unattended, have water nearby at all times and know how to properly extinguish a fire if the need arises.
Keep in mind that while you can’t have a fire without a spark, you definitely cannot have a fire during total fire bans or without a permit in some regions. Check with your local authorities for more information on fire safety and restrictions.
As you and your family will want to go exploring around the bush, you’ll need to know where you are, so you don’t get lost.
The simplest way to do this is by using a map that clearly marks the area’s walking trails..
Yeah, yeah, we all use google Maps these days, you’d be hard pressed to find even a Melways in this day and age. But the reality is reception gets fuzzy in areas, phones run out of battery and the landscape can change. So a hike is a great opportunity to teach your child how to read a map
Show the map to your child before you start your hike and explain to them what the symbols on the map’s legend mean.
Showing your child how to read a map and follow the trail markers on it, as well as understanding how distance is measured on the map, is an essential hiking skill. Give them the map and let them lead the way (with your supervision, of course).
In addition to knowing how to read a map, kids should also know how to use a compass to know what direction they’re heading in. Compasses come in handy when trail markers are poorly maintained or spaced very far apart.
Having your kid know how to use these tools will make it far less likely that they never get lost while hiking.
Going fishing is a staple of camping, and it’s an activity that’s great for kids to learn for future camping trips. From a fairly young age, a child is able to cast by themselves and if they’re lucky even reel in a fish! (I personally was taught to gut a fish before I learned long division, but everyone’s different!)
Ultra-light reels are good for kids to use, simply because they’re lighter and therefore easier for the little ones to hold. Try to get one that’s flexible, between five to six feet, and easy to use.
Fishing is an activity that requires patience. As kids love to run around and can be impatient, fishing helps them to develop patience for both fishing and life in general. Besides, the anticipation and excitement of waiting for a catch can be thrilling in itself, unlike the disappointment that comes with going home without a fish!
Mark a spot on the ground where your kid should cast from. This teaches them how to position themselves to catch more fish. Using a lure can be beneficial for impatient souls as they will need to cast out and reel in over and over again, make sure you show them different knots and ways of retrieving the lure.
Keeping things simple at the beginning is essential for teaching children anything, and the same goes for fishing. It may be time-consuming now, but it’s a great skill for them to have and just another way for you to bond with your kids in the great outdoors.