I’ve seen countless camping checklists all over the internet. They vary from person to person. But, all the basics are usually included – whether the list is for glamping, car camping or more primitive backcountry camping. I’ve seen a few, “Camping with Kids,” checklists that include a ridiculous amount of toys, books and electronic devices brought from home.
I dunno about you, but camping is much more fun when I don’t have to pack up the entire house in the back of my SUV and I can just focus on what’s really important.. spending time together and finding some peace from the business of everyday hectic life. I don’t really want to be reminded of my return home while I’m out communing with nature. So, I don’t bring toys and books and video devices.
If you’re looking to disconnect from the home life and plug into the outdoors while bonding together, consider these additions to your camping list.
This suggestion covers binoculars, magnifying glass, portable microscope, and night vision.
We have a great pair of binoculars along with a couple smaller, cheaper pair. The kids are always welcome to use the better binoculars. But, it’s best if they have their own that are more suitable for the rugged little folk to run around with on their own.
A couple small magnifying glasses can open up a whole new world that’s usually invisible right under our feet. Armed with a magnifying glass, they can study a multitude of tiny items and insects. A portable microscope magnifies that ability and can prove to be a lot of fun if your kids are of the scientist variety.
Finally, night vision. We have a pair of cheapo night vision “goggles,” that run off AA batteries. It’s a really fun thing to have at night and they’re very affordable, nowadays. The ones in the toy stores work surprisingly well and can be fun for the whole family at night.
2. Play Things
Leave the usual play things behind. Who really wants to be cleaning up a bucket full of toys at camp or stepping on legos spilled in the tent? Nobody, that’s who. Instead, opt for this compact sporting goods kit by Aryaball.
Packed away, neatly, inside a baseball bat and a soccer ball is everything you need to enjoy 5 backyard sports, anywhere. Soccer, Football, Baseball, Mini Golf, and Frisbee. Check it out…
While we’re on the topic of balls, check out this Ice Cream Making Ball, which allows you to make a pint of ice cream anywhere you can play ball for a little while. Veteran family traveler “Val in Real Life” tells me is an excellent addition to camp…..
Pack some cards and a little knowledge of a few card games and print out instructions for how to make those amazing shadow puppets for evenings in the tent. Don’t forget to pack a couple PLAY TIME flashlights that you can use for play without running down the power on your functional lights. The play time flashlights can also be used to play flashlight tag and/or go on an evening hike. Oh, pack a couple harmonicas so any dissatisfied youngster can play the blues.
String. Bring plenty of string (along with a cutting tool) and some buttons and let your kids use their imagination trying to figure what they’re for. LOL You may want to brush up on your knot tying skills so you can teach them a few useful knots. They can make crafts, faux stone age tools (my son’s favorite), bows and arrows out of twigs, and some random things I probably wouldn’t ever even think of. Plus, you can show them how to make a whirligig and string figures such as Jacob’s Ladder, Cat’s Cradle, Witch’s Broom or Cup & Saucer..
Provide the kids with a cheapo (or expensive, if you like) digital camera. They may surprise you with some awesome trip memories captured from a perspective you rarely see.
A pair of walkie talkies put the fun in functional as they can be used by kids at play or families exploring an area. They can keep the older kids in contact when they wander a bit further than the younger ones. And, they’re just over all fun to play spy and stuff with.
Don’t forget the gear you’ll need to maximize exploration. In addition to the binoculars and magnifying optics, bring along a clear container for studying bugs up close and personal (before you let them return to the wild, of course) and print out a scavenger hunt if your kids enjoy a mission to accomplish. Where ever you camp may provide maps of trails or campground area, pick one up for each of your kids to have their own. Let them lead the way, according to their maps, when you can to let them exercise those skills. You may also find local wildlife or plant guides to aide in identifying animal tracks, birds, trees, rocks and possible poisonous plants.
And, don’t forget to load Google Star Map on your phone so you can pick out planets, constellations and more in the night sky.
Have fun !