Ten Things to Know Before Taking the Grandchildren on a Camping Trip
Your personal camping agenda may include such wonderful activities as leisurely walks, quietly enjoying coffee in the early morning, bird watching and relative peace.
When the grandchildren come with you, however, the agenda may need some adjusting. The kids will exuberantly run and jump and use all of their senses to explore the new camping adventure. It is rewarding to see things through the eyes of a child. The excitement of discovery is contagious. Look out - here they come!
Expect the Unexpected
1. Be flexible. Often, your plans will not jibe with that of your grandchildren. Try to plan activities that everyone will enjoy. Allow time for doing "nothing." Expect the unexpected.
2. Children were born to get dirty. This is especially true on a camping trip and why James King invented the washing machine in 1851. Bring plenty of extra clothes (more than you think you need) for you and for them. Bring such items as hand sanitizer, baby wipes (yes, even for the older ones) and a stain stick to treat big messes sooner rather than later.
3. Accidents can and will happen. Be prepared for cuts and scrapes, poison ivy, sunburn, bug bites, ticks and all other contingencies. A well-stocked first aid kit with cute bandages is a must. Have phone numbers available where the parents may be reached and know the location of the nearest emergency room. Teach the children what to do if something happens to you!
4. Kids are lots of extra work (in case you've forgotten). Washing off sand and mud, changing clothes often, cooking meals they will actually eat and mopping up spills are all part of it.
5. Children can get lost. Establish play boundaries and and practice what to do if lost. Each child should know his name, address and phone number, as well as yours. Teach the campsite number and practice finding it on a walk through the campground. Know where the camp office (or host) is located. Equipping the kids with a whistle and teaching them to blow it only when lost or in other serious trouble is an excellent way to keep track of them.
6. Children love to help and want to feel needed. Let them. Teach them the proper way to complete a task and allow them to do it - with supervision, of course. They can set or clear a table, wash and dry dishes, sweep and make the beds, among other things.
7. Every frog, cricket, weed, flower and rock has the potential to be a fabulous discovery. Set a limit on "adopting" the outdoors. A bug box for a wildlife creature to spend the night or a few hours is a great investment. Children need to know not to pick flowers or leaves and that releasing creatures back where they were found is important to keep balance in nature.
8. Being outside makes everyone hungry - especially children. Bring lots of extra food. Healthy snacks, like fruit, cheese sticks, granola bars and cereal are delicious. Allow the kids to help prepare a meal. Double-check with parents about food allergies and sensitivities and favorite foods.
9. It will rain. Have a backup plan and rain ponchos. Rainy day activities may include a nap, card or board game, walk/bike in the rain, museum visit, telling stories from your childhood, reading a book, coloring or drawing, leaf rubbings, etc.
10. Make children aware of your expectations at the beginning of your trip. Discuss manners, bedtime and your rules (for example, no jumping on the bed, wipe feet before entering the RV, offer to help without being asked, etc.).
Take the Grandkids Camping
Do you ever take your grandchild(ren) camping with you?
Remember, camping can be a special time for you to enjoy your grandchildren AND you are shaping the future generation of campers to be the best they can be!
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