As if packing for camping wasn’t bad enough, when you travel with the kids, you have to take so much more, to make sure they have enough clothes, snacks and entertainment items. That is without their hand-held computer games, headphones and all the other paraphernalia that makes up kid’s entertainment currently. Mobile phones? That is the hardest one of all, particularly if you must extract them from their hands or ears. Not easy!
If they are little, you must make allowances for untold amounts of stuff, from nappies, through to bottles, eating vessels and goodness know what. Keeping them entertained in the car can also be a task, that can easily stress you out.
However, if you get your packing right, it can lead to a much less stressful holiday, so it’s good to put some thought into it – try asking them what they are likely to want to take with them – it will probably be something electronic! But sometimes, keeping things simple and economical can provide enough for a fun holiday for the kids.
Having a mixed age group of kids is even trickier, having to have varying entertainment for toddlers and teenagers. You need to be creative and mix up the games or tasks that you set them that are fun and stimulating, particularly if you are on a site that doesn’t have facilities for kids such as playgrounds, or for whatever reason, they are closed or not operating (lockdown is a classic example). Try to embrace the area or country that you are in, and let them enjoy not just fun, but a bit of culture too.
Hopefully, any restrictions in terms of lockdown will soon be lifted and campsites will be able to re-open any facilities that they have for the kids, and for you too.
When considering about things to pack and entertain the kids – if you have a long journey, always good to have some kind of entertainment in the car, however simple. If you are on a long journey the plaintive cry of ‘when are we going to get there’, is enough to jangle anyones’ nerves!
Daytime and the great outdoors
In all children there are little explorers, but adults enjoy it too. Giving the kids a bit of freedom (supervised of course), gives you a chance to tire them out, not just physically but mentally too. Set some challenging tasks, particularly ones that they would not normally do at home.
Treasure or scavenger hunts are always good fun, even though you must plan it yourself! Give them a list of local flora or fauna, animals to spot, anything that relates to that area. You can give them clues to find these subjects and a small bag to bring their treasure back to camp. They will all want to be first past the post with their goodies! It is up to you if there is a prize for the winner, but you do not want siblings fighting!
If you are camping abroad, somewhere like France for instance, a local market is another good place to get the kids thinking. Once again, depending on safety, you can pick a few items for them to find (fruit and vegetables is a good idea, then you do not have to do the shopping!). Give them the names in French or whatever language for that country and get them to come back with them. It is fun and it’s educational. If you have a couple of teenagers and a toddler or two, pair them up, it is safer.
A good idea is to get some cheap disposable cameras, so that they can go off and photograph certain things you have asked them to find. Beetles, spiders, frogs are usually fun topics for the younger ones!
So many games you can play outside in good weather. Cricket and football are obvious ones, but of course there are things like rounders, skittles and hoopla. There are plenty of economical bats and balls, skittles and hoopla sets available to buy from the internet before you go. There are lots of games you can play with a football or tennis ball, inside or outside, it is all about imagination, and the kids will certainly have that. (Example – passing a ball from ‘chin to chin’ or ‘between the knees’ can keep them occupied for a while!)
Depending what you have to hand, you could also set up an obstacle course, or mini Olympics – it’s not as hard as you think it is to find things lying around, or make the courses from what you already have packed. Go on, you can do it!
Egg and spoon race or three-legged race? Make it like school sports day but remember to hard boil the eggs first!
Darts and archery? Once again, plenty of ‘velcro’ sets to buy from the web, so that nobody gets hurt. These types of games teach the younger ones a bit of dexterity and hand skills. Even grumpy teenagers will join in with a bit of encouragement.
Now, here is a messy one which must be played outdoors unless you like sleeping in a wet sleeping bag or camp bed. ‘Pass the Water’ on a hot day will bring lots of giggles and probably a bit of screaming! The first child takes a cup full of water and passes it over their head to the second child who must catch as much water as possible, and so on, depending how many children involved. It is all about teamwork. If they have water left in the cup at the end of the line, just repeat it until no water left. Any team who still has water, are the winners.
Campfire Capers – Evening activities for little campers
For parents, a camping holiday offers a degree of freedom and flexibility which simply is not found in hotels and apartment accommodation. During the day, there are usually places to explore and endless things to do, however, if your site is limited on evening activities, you may find yourself in for a long night.
Finding ways to keep your children entertained in the evening can be a challenge and, so, we have put together a guide to our favourite night-time activities for little campers:
For kids aged five and above, Poop is a loo-py game for between two and five players and, takes just 15 minutes to play. Players take turns ‘pooping’ whilst trying not to clog the toilet (not literally) and, the first to run out of cards is the winner. As well as being great fun for kids and adults, you need nothing more than your pack of Poop cards, so it will not take up any room in the boot of your car. If Poops is a little, erm, lowbrow for your liking there are lots of other child friendly card games available including Go Fish, The Emoji Game and, of course, enduring favourites, such as Snap and Happy Families.
Most children love hearing – and telling stories, and this traditional camping pastime is always a firm favourite. Start off a tall tale and challenge each person to add a chapter in turn. Encourage children to use their imaginations by being as wild and creative with the story as they like. You can either set a deadline for the story to be completed in an evening and, start another the next or, continue the story for your whole holiday.
Kind of like scrabble for kids, Qwirkle is suitable for children aged six and above and, comes in a handy travel bag for easy transport and storage. For up to four players, Qwirkle uses coloured shapes instead of letters which must be placed in rows to match colour and shape. Perfect for camping, Qwirkle is comprised of chunky wooden blocks which can be placed directly on ground – meaning that there is no bulky board to cart around. If Qwirkle doesn’t float your boat, there are plenty of other child-friendly board games including Who Is It and old school Snakes And Ladders.
A box of dominoes can come in handy to occupy frustrated little minds. No need to stick at just the normal domino game though, there are plenty of variations to the old-fashioned game. Look up how to play ‘Blocking’, or ‘One-arm Joe’ – fun for the younger kids that may not need lots of skill.
A great way to let kids burn off some energy before bedtime, Flashlight Tag is simple, fun and, all you need is a bunch of torches (and plenty of spare batteries). You can make up your own rules or, if you prefer to be all official, you can get hold of some readymade ones HERE.
If you are on a mission to drag older kids and teens away from their phones, this is a great way to do it. You will need to do a bit of prep before setting off on your trip, but Night Bowling is cheap and easy and perfect for the whole family. All you need is six empty two litre plastic bottles some glow sticks and a ball – place a glow stick in each bottle and set up your ‘bowling pins’ on a flat surface. If you want to be fancy, you can even download and print bowling cards (design your own or find them online).
When camping with kids, evenings offer the perfect opportunity to spend time together and enjoy one another’s company. As well as the activities shown here, do not forget to ask your child(ren) for suggestions as, there is a good chance they will have some great ones!
Strictly Come Dancing!
More of a ‘dance off’ than a ballroom blitz, all you need is a method of obtaining music (either by phone or if you happen to have a portable CD Player). Let the kids show their ‘moves’ and if they have suitable outfits, to dress up according to their character. If you have room, take some face paints, cheap costume jewellery or anything else you can! Can be fun and entertaining for all – adults, join in!
When camping with kids, evenings offer the perfect opportunity to spend time together and enjoy one another’s company. As well as the activities shown here, do not forget to ask your child(ren) for suggestions as, there is a good chance they will have some great ones! You may need to rack your brains to be inventive, but it really is worth it.