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Little Helpers Make Happy Campers

Camping is one of our very favorite family activities, but, just like at home, there are jobs to be done at the campsite too. We truly believe that kids LOVE having jobs and little helpers make happy campers. Everyone loves having an important task to do.

Why We Camp

Camping is one of my kids’ favorite outdoor activities.  They are always excited to head to a favorite spot or totally new campground to explore and get away from normal routine.

They love the dirt, the trees, the campfire (and the marshmallows and late bedtimes as well!).  Us parents love having time as a family to slow down and fall into a more natural rhythm.

My kids truly are camping kids.  They love camping and all the outdoor activities that go along with it. 

I love that they are spending time outdoors exercising and learning to appreciate nature, and I love that we are doing something as a family that brings all of us joy.

One thing we enjoy about camping is how active we all are. Between biking, walking back and forth to the bathroom, and all the exploring, we are all way more active than at home! 

Despite this, sometimes kids need direction to help keep them engaged and involved in the campsite action.

Involving Children in Campsite Action

Keeping children engaged in the camping experienced is crucial to keeping whines of boredom at bay. One way we do this is by giving the children jobs to do.

Our kids love to help and be involved around the campsite.  They feel useful, needed and confident when they are allowed to help. Having a job gives them purpose, and also allows the parents to maybe even do a little less work.

Of course, the level of a child’s involvement depends on their age and maturity level.

Ways to Allow Children to Help Around the Campsite

Allow children to carry their own gear to the campsite. 

We allow each child to have their own backpack or duffel bag for their clothes.  They are proud to have their own bag.  Each child has a small personal lantern or headlamp, and their own hammock for lounging.

Your children might enjoy having their own fishing rod, camp tool, or bug habitats. They feel more independent with their own equipment.  

Our oldest children, who are 12 and 10, help us unload all the gear from the car when we arrive. This includes sleeping bags, food boxes, tents, etc. 

The younger two (ages 8 and 6) unload their own gear–mostly their backpacks and pillows.

Kids can help set up the campsite

The second task we have our children do is clearing the camping pad of sticks and stones.  No one likes having a poking stick or hard rock preventing a good night’s rest, so this is a priority for the family.

A rake would be handy for this, but we rarely remember one–hands work fine.

Older kids can help setup the tent.  Younger children may be able to setup the table with the vinyl tablecloth and dishes box. My kids love to put together the foam floor tiles (like you see in preschools or gyms) which we use as flooring in our tent. 

Kids Can Help with the Campfire

My children love to help with collecting firewood. In Vermont and New Hampshire, where we often camp, the policy is that any dead/downed wood can be collected for burning (make sure and check your local regulations before collecting wood!).

This is definitely one the favorite camping activities for our children–they all go off into the woods in search of dry wood.

The older children tend to find the best wood, but even our youngest manages to scavenge useful tinder and kindling. We love having this folding saw from Fiskars to cut the pieces into the right size.

They bring it back and stack it by the fire pit, ready for a fire to be lit.

The next activity kids love to help with is fire starting! This isn’t an activity that kids should do without supervision, but it definitely is popular with my children. Our children all enjoy the ritual of fire, and our campsite often has one going even when it is warm out.

I find matches to be best for children learning to start fires–lighters are more for them to manage. We usually use the basic strike on box matches that you can find almost everywhere.

Kids love to help with food preparation 

What child doesn’t want to make hot dogs and s’mores?  This is one of the easiest camping meals to make, and also easiest for kids to help with.

There are plenty of other ways children can help with food. My younger children help at breakfast by doing things like mixing pancake mix or scrambling the eggs, while I am cooking bacon or prepping the pans.

My older kids act as my sous chefs; dicing potatoes, scrambling eggs, or even chopping veggies for making hobo packets.

After a meal is over, all the children help by scraping their dishes into the trash, and the older ones help to wash the dishes.

Of course, always closely monitor kids while they cook and around the campfire.

Amelia’s children enjoy making monkey bread.  Monkey bread is similar to cinnamon rolls. Her family makes it with canned biscuits, cinnamon and brown sugar. Visit this post to find her favorite recipe! I hope your kids enjoy it as much as hers do.

Think of Other Ways to Engage Your Children

I truly have found that everyone is happier when they feel the are contributing in a meaningful way when camping. Honestly, this is true at home as well! Having our kids help also takes some of the burden off of the parents, and helps keep the parents happy too!

Check out this post for other ways to keep camping fun.

Next time you’re camping with your kids, consider ways to get them involved around the campsite. Share any ideas you have with us–because little helpers make happy campers!   I’ll see ya by the campfire.

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