It’s almost time to unroll the mildew-laden tent you forgot to dry out last summer, stock up on fishing tackle and pack up the car because camping season is coming.
It's true that there are those of us who really don't like the idea of outdoor life. After all, there are big bugs, biting bugs, slithery things, rodents, and even things that have a taste for humans—like bears. The food is nothing to write home about, it can be wet, you sleep on the ground, and you smell. With so many cons, why would anyone want to camp? Because it’s so much fun and, research says, it helps kids learn.
Cam Collyer, manager of the award-winning Learning Grounds Program at Evergreen, believes that a child’s motivation for learning is increased when they are outside. So no matter the subject, whether it’s math, reading, or science, kids learn better when they are outside.
Camping with children can bring back amazing memories and a renewed appreciation for nature. Take time to enjoy the journey of these new experiences with your child. Birds and animals, plants and trees, rocks, streams and ponds, insects, different and wild sounds are just some of the exciting things to discover.
There are different ways to camp ranging from car camping in an organized campground, to backcountry camping (paddle-in or hike-in campsites), to roofed accommodation in the parks (yurts or cabins). Whatever you chose camping with the kids is fun and rewarding.
Here are a few tips on making camping fun:
- Get the kids interested in the trip by getting them involved. Build their excitement and anticipation.
- Plan the camping trip together, decide on places to go - what you'll be discovering, what you'll be experiencing and learning.
- Even the 'little' things like collecting firewood, filling water containers, hiking, or going fishing at a local pond or stream all contribute to you and your child's nature appreciation.
- Try a backyard campout before you go for the first time
- Teach the kids how to set up a tent
- Experience a night outdoors in sleeping bags
- Search the sky for constellations
- Listen to the many night sounds
- Teach them about safety and to respect nature
If you take a few precautions and don't over-schedule, you can create memories that your kids will tell their kids. Just remember to pack your sleeping bag.