Health and Fitness

Tips for Camping with Kids

In keeping with my rants about the importance of “no child left indoors,” I want to thank the editors of Sunset magazine for publishing a great “The Joy of Camping” feature in the May issue (
In the article Sunset photographer Tom Story and his wife, Sara Paloma, share how they made a successful four-day, three-night camping trip with their kids, ages 7 and 5, to Lake Alpine in California’s Sierra Nevada a huge success.
First and foremost, they banned movies and games on the iPad. Instead, they brought a range of amusements such as good, old-fashioned art supplies. The kids loved drawing and painting in nature and forgot to complain.
The parents also instigated a treasure hunt complete with a hand-drawn treasure map. Since the kids do not live in a “free-range child rearing” neighborhood, the campground provided the perfect environment to let the kids roam free. At first the 7 year-old Clara, was afraid of the dark and insisted upon using a flashlight. But she soon learned that turning off the light was fun because the other senses kick-in bigtime.
I recommend the article to anyone thinking about taking their offspring out into nature on a camping trip.
Here are Tom and Sara’s Tips for Camping with Kids:
Go Close – There are good campgrounds within easy drives from almost all Western cities. Says Paloma, “You don’t want to wear out the kids with a six-hour drive just getting to your campsite.”
Plan for fun – Glorious mountain views may be enough to keep parents happy. But not kids. Design games and activities that will let them have fun outdoors on their own terms.
Grab time for yourself – You need to remember why you’re out in nature too. Paloma says, “I got up two hours before everyone else and got prime time alone on the lake with my coffee and the first light hitting the water. Magic.”
How do you make camping a success for your tribe?