8 Tips for Successful Tent Camping with Kids

With many camping trips under our belt, we have compiled our best tips and tricks for tent camping with your kids.



There is nothing like huddling together in a tent when it is pouring rain outside. Indeed, with your sweetheart and a bottle of wine maybe, but this is certainly not the case when it comes to camping with young children. You cannot always avoid a late afternoon thunderstorm. But if the weather forecast for your weekend in the mountains or on the ocean makes you want to cook soups and huddle by an indoor fire, this is probably not the best time to go camping.

In some places, you have to reserve far in advance if you even want to get a camp spot at all. However, we find that even in crowded areas you can find drop-in camp spots if you get there early enough. Or pitch for free and with ample space in National Forests or on BLM land. Often it is worth it to drive the extra hour to get outside of crowded areas, where there is no need to reserve a camp spot six months in advance.

Camping Hacks with Kids



Critical to any successful camping trip is making sure that your gear is in good shape. Did your tent survive the winter months, are all poles still intact and stakes not misplaced? Avoid the need to drive back home after sunset because a tentpole turns out to be broken into pieces.

Yep, been there. Decide if your tent is the right size for your family. It is up to you what the right size is. A large tent may allow you to stand in it upright, allow for several compartments or bedrooms and even have room for a toilet bucket. Quite the luxury, but be aware that the downside of a large tent is that sometimes it can be hard to find a flat piece of ground that is large enough to fit your mansion.

Another issue with a larger tent is that it can be challenging to stay warm at night unless your neck of the woods is an area where you would plug in a fan if you could. Check if your camping mats don’t leak. Kids may be okay either way, whether they are sleeping on a camping mattress or straight on the ground, but us adults have pretty much aged beyond that level of flexibility. I have camped with friends where between all of us (4 adults and three children) we needed to share two pads.



Best Kids Flashlight

The kid’s flashlights are designed to specifically serve their age group. Some models are suitable for toddlers, whereas few others can be used by older kids also.


Age of your child:

It is important to mention that kids grow up very fast and their preferences also keep on changes with the changing interests. Not just their shoes and clothes require a change in size within every few months; even their personal requirements also get changed over time. In this scenario, it is better to buy a flashlight that closely resembles their interest and they are willing to use that in the long run. The choice for color and the luminescence levels may also change with time.




How important it is to bring toys on your trip, depends on your kids. You obviously want them to play outside rather than on a screen. Otherwise, you would not bother heading into the woods.

We love making room in our car for dump trucks, buckets, shovels, and even rope. But you will also find that flashlights, and for older kids, pocket knives are fabulous for children to entertain themselves while camping. Here are some tips for camping with a baby



It is quite common to stock up on all standard American fare when you think of cooking on a fire or camp stove. Burgers, corn, baked beans and potatoes, it doesn’t matter what you cook, as long as you keep it simple and the family likes to eat it. Stock up on easy snacks as well and bring more than you think you need.

Hungry kids are the worst. Consider cooking on a campfire if a fire is allowed.

Bring some sort of rack to put on your fire, and you won’t need your camp stove any longer. The kids will be thrilled if they can make marshmallows so gather sticks by daylight. If you own a cast-iron Dutch oven, it is worth it to stuff it in your car. Use this pot to make popcorn on the fire.




One of the most challenging things when tent camping with kids, is how on earth you get through the night. Many nights have I been awake, uncomfortable because of cold or lack of my comfortable mattress, to find myself counting every minute and feeling like the hours were ticking away like weeks.

Thank goodness for coffee in the morning. Several kids and many nights camping later, I can honestly say that camping with a baby is challenging to say the least. Keep them warm preferably by dressing an infant up in layers, finishing off with an oversized wearable blanket and make sure head and hands are covered.

If this is not sufficient you can safely share a sleeping bag, which basically means that you will only be covered up to your belly button or so. Especially if you are nursing your child at night, dress yourself extremely warmly with the appropriate and convenient layers. Do not despair: I have found that my kids are the best tent sleepers as soon as they reach the age of 2.



Depending on your kids’ ages, it can be hard to relax when you are camping. Teaching your children what a safe distance is from a campfire, keeping littles away from ditches and lakes and let’s not even begin about wildlife, is exhausting. But the earlier you start, the sooner you will have natural campers.

Make them aware of risks and dangers without just making them scared. Talk about things like snakes and spiders, and teach them how to behave around bear and moose. Prepare yourself though and make sure you leave home with a first-aid kit and bear spray if appropriate.

Think beforehand what your options are if there were to be an emergency. Do you have a cellphone connection? Where is the nearest hospital or fire station? One trick is to put fresh ice in your cooler to keep food cold. If needed, it’s perfect to use on sprains and bruises.




If you can, go camping with friends. Especially if they have kids, you will be able to share the responsibility as well as the work. With two adults it can feel like camping is only hard work, but when you share the load, the balance usually tips in the right direction. Also for the younger generation, it is usually incredibly fun to have more buddies to play with, and peer pressure can be a great help in getting kids comfortable in a campground setting.



Whatever your life usually looks like, be sure to throw most of it out of the window when you enter the woods. Sure, babies need to nap, and there is such a thing as kids’ bedtime. But if you relax, (and as long as you aren’t camping under the midnight sun) children will naturally get tired from being outside all day. Enforcing strict bedtime is usually not helpful.

Besides, that leaves family time for making marshmallows. Don’t worry if the kids dig into the dirt and get all muddy. Make sure to bring spare clothes, plan on washing those sleeping bags at home and if absolutely necessary, turn your cooler into a bathtub. If something important doesn’t go according to plan, it is okay to make changes.

Unexpected bad weather can make it necessary to leave early, and sick children will never be happy in a tent. But also remember that you are just camping. If they end up making it through the last day with anything but their own clothes on their body, it doesn’t matter.


Fun Camping Activities for Kids

Let’s start with the little ones. After all, they’ll be needing the most attention.

TV, video games and social media have given our kids non-stop entertainment at their fingertips. So, what happens when you’re on a campsite with bad signal and no wi-fi? You’ll have to have a few tricks up your sleeve to keep them from yelling for their cellphone and laptops.

No worries, I’ve got some great tried and tested camping activities that you can do with your kids. The hours will fly by.

1. Water Activities in a Lake

I remember my summer camping trips with my grandparents where we’d go to a lakeside campsite. We’d spend almost two weeks at the same campsite every year, and I’d still not get bored of swimming in the lake.

The summer is a great time to go camping. Flowers are in bloom, forests are green, and the waters are warmer.

If you want a foolproof way to keep your kids busy on a camping trip then definitely look for campsites next to a lake. The kids will be in their swimming suits all day and every day.

It doesn’t take much to keep children entertained in the water. However, it’s always more fun with a few props. Bring snorkeling gear to look at the small fishes and sparkling stones underwater. Pack a few inflatable balls that can float for games in the water.

Bring a floatie or swimming tubes if you’re kids are not skilled swimmers. This way they can get used to being in the water for longer periods. The floaties will give them and you a greater sense of security.

Some campsites will also have a kayak or canoe rental. This is a fun activity for older kids and a great work out, too.

2. Go On a Photo Safari

If your kids love animals, why not let them go exploring for creatures during a hike?

All you need is a guidebook on the local flora and fauna and a camera. Your cellphone camera will work, too. You don’t need a signal to take photos.

Pack a small backpack with snacks and water to keep you hydrated and energized on the hike. Then set out with the kids in searches for animals like deer, hares, owls and any other creature that are native in the area.

You can make the hike more exciting by making a list of all the animals you want to find. This way, you make the hike feel like a mission. Kids will love the sense of achievement they get when they finally snap a photo of the animal you’ve been looking for.

You can also include special types of trees and plants on the list. They’re a good filler for areas that don’t have too much wildlife.

3. Campfire Games

You cannot go on a family camping trip without a few campfire activities. Of course, there are the classic pass times of making s’mores and telling scary ghost stories. But there are other campfire games, too.

You don’t even need to haul along a box of props to have a good time around a campfire. You can play simple games that are made so much more cozy, just by doing them next to a campfire. Think of games like truth or dare, forbidden word, and name that tune.

For older kids, or you and your adult friends, you should play a game of werewolf. This is a game whereby two teams, werewolves, and villagers, play against each other. The catch is that nobody knows who is telling the truth and who is lying in this strategic mystery game. They will be so grateful.

4. Extreme Water Sports

Look for campsites near white water rafting sites for when you are in a large group. This is an adrenaline rush for both beginners and seasoned rafters.

You can also do other water sports like water-skiing, zipping around on jet skis or even surfing if you are close to the sea.

5. Adventure Activities

If you’d prefer to stay dry, then there are still plenty of adventure sports for you. Mountain-biking is fun on any track. You can go horseback riding if there is a riding school nearby.

Another fun group activity is to go to an adventure site. These places will have activities such as zip lining, rock climbing, and quad bikes.

If you are with a large group, then you can make the day a friendly competition. The team that did the best overall won’t have to cook dinner or do the dishes that night.

Camping Activities for a Rainy Day

Being out in nature means you are also left to the whims of Mother Nature. If Mother Nature decides that it should rain, then you will have to entertain yourself somewhere inside and dry.

It is always a smart idea to have a covered space by your tents. Either look for an extension for your tent where you can huddle around with a few people or get a small marquee.

If you are camping with an RV, then this isn’t something you have to worry about. In case you don’t have a covered space by your tent, look for campsites that have communal spaces like a canteen or game room.

Take the rainy day as your lazy day. If you’re camping for several days or even weeks, then your body also deserves a break from all the activities. Instead, spend a rainy day trying to get to know each other better.

Aside from your body getting a boost from all the exercise you do during camping, your relationships are given a boost, too. Don’t underestimate the power of having a good circle of people around you. At home, seeing your friends and family might get put lower on the list because of work and chores. By going on a camping trip, you get to catch up on lost time without any distractions.

6. Play Group Games

When it’s pouring outside, you can still have some fun. Have a board game tournament, play a few rounds of poker or try charades to get everybody laughing.

7. Enjoy Some Quiet Time

You can also take this chance to relax. Find a cozy spot in your tent for some quiet time. Finally, start on that book that you’ve always wanted to read but never got to.

You can also try to meditate. The nature sounds and raindrops will help to clear your mind.

Camping is healthy because of all the outdoor activities, but it can also do your mental health some good if you practice a little consciousness. Take the time to de-stress from all the responsibilities and to-do lists at home. Instead, just be grateful that you get the chance to relax in nature, even when it’s raining outside.

These are my favorite things to do on a camping trip. Do they sound fun to you?

You probably noticed that being near water plays a big part in my favorite camping activities. If you don’t get the chance to go camping near a lake or river, then there are still plenty of other options.

Sky gaze to see mars.


Camping Activities for Toddlers

If you want to make your camping memorable and unique for you kid, you have to take time and plan for some fun activities.


  1. Bring the Bubbles

Whether you will buy or prepare them on your own, blowing bubbles are a fun way of making the trip worthy for your toddler. You will enjoy sitting on the sun while watching your kid chasing the bubbles. Ensure that you purchase a bubble machine for the work. Given that you are not at home, there is no worrying about the soapy dirty sticking on your white walls from the bubbles.


  1. Nature Walks

It does not mean long walks. You can make your toddler like the entire trip through nature walks around your camping area. It might be hard to do these things back at home with your busy schedule. Pack snacks and go for a trek with your kid. No rushing, take time on anything you come across. Be it birds or unique plants, spend some time with him analyzing what nature has. You can take photos of the beautiful flowers.


  1. Craft Crate

Bring the arts and crafts to your campsite. Besides getting the outside inspiration, you will keep your child happy in the tents when you cannot go out due to rain. Bring as many craft materials as you can. They are not meant for your home only. Include coloring books, construction paper, water paints, camping related stickers, and even crayons. You can put the playdough in the craft crate as well. Leave some space either in the camping land or inside the tent and pack it with different arts. In a day, make sure your kid runs his imagination with the crafts.

You can make your own solar oven with aluminum foil


  1. Scavenger Hunt

With your kid, use pictures and come up with a scavenger hunt. Print the pictures and stick them on cardboard and start hunting. You can help your toddler in finding the items but the more he does it without your help the fun it will be. You can include some of these things on the scavenger list. However, you can as well come up with your own.

  • Corn
  • Small leaf
  • Pinecone
  • Smooth stone
  • Bird feather
  • Ant
  • Twig


  1. Rock Painting and Hunting

You can spark the mood of your toddler at camping sites by doing some arts using rocks. It does not matter the camping site, your kid will always find lots of plenty of stones. Tell him to gather some good-shaped stones. Give them the pain you carried and give them time to be creative. You can display their coloring results in the evening at the campfire.


  1. Rock Sculptures

Rock sculpture is the real deal in making your trip memorable. You must have come across them on the roadsides or near the shores. Help your kid in showcasing his creativity while camping. Gather different sized beach rocks or river stones. Get to clear land and balance the stones, the largest one being at the bottom. You can direct your kid on how to go about it. However, make sure your kids have the shoes on to avoid toe injuries by a falling rock.