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August 19, 2010 / MrsH

Camping Activities with Young Children

I began writing about our experiences on camping with young children here and figured it’s time to talk about some fun activities that the littles can do.  When car-camping, we bring a box with a lid (one of those plastic organizing bins).  I tape the activity ideas to the bottom of the lid and all supplies fit into the box.  We focused on activities that maximize our outdoors experience, incorporate (or take place in) nature, and that utilize minimal additional supplies.  We also tried to make a list that had both things to do individually and things to do together, as well as both quiet and active ideas.  Here’s the list, with some additional notes on supplies and our experience with it:

-fly a kite – most campgrounds seem to have a large field, and while it’s rarely windy there, the kids can at least run aruond with the kite
-build a campfire – obviously a grown-up job, but kids love participating by handing over the different sized pieces of woods etc.  Besides, all that wood “needs” to get sorted first, right?
-go for a hike/walk (stop at every interesting leaf/pebble/twig)
-swim in the pond – we try to find campgrounds that have some sort of a swimming opportunity
-build sandcastles using upside down buckets
-build drip castles
-play Uno
-look @ pond or stream life (we use something like this:
http://www.ehow.com/way_5489028_pond-life-science-activities.html)
-make a nature collage – find nature items in the area, then use white glue to glue onto paper, a plate, or cardboard from a cereal box
-play frisbee
-play soccer
-play Simon Says
-watch/catch daddy longlegs
-find/watch frogs
-play Yahtzee
-play wiffle ball
-make a nature treasure hunt (find a green leaf; find a pine needle; find two
rocks; find 10 pinecones, etc. whatever is age appropriate really. Even better
if you have a digital camera and they can take photos of their treasures)
-watch clouds
-make a water hole (ie: drag water back and forth furiously to try and fill up a
hole on the beach)
-write cards
-play tag
-play hide and seek
-sweep the tent
-organize the sleeping bags/pads in the tent
-find fireflies
-find and watch the moon
-skip rocks (or just toss them into a body of water)
-paint rocks, add googly eyes
-collect kindling (“find me 10 pinecones? ok, how about 15 little sticks? and now 8 big ones?”)
-find/make s’more sticks

Finally, for our favorite: DIG A HOLE!  I’m serious, this keeps them busy throughout the camping trip.  We bring kid-sized real shovels and let ’em have at it.  The key is to do it in an out of the way place, where you can still see the kids, and make sure it’s only one hole (so you don’t fall into 10 of them during your midnight bathroom trip.

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