Family Camping Survival Guide


Ah, the joys of camping! What better, more affordable way to enjoy summer vacation with your brood; but how do you prepare your kids for a stay in the great outdoors, where Nature lays down the rules? has compiled the most common complaints you’ll hear from your kids while camping, and the best way to be prepared to respond to them.

“Mom, I’m hungry!”
Kids seem to have a gift for being hungry at the worst possible time, and in the worst possible place. To avoid finding yourself perched on a mountain top hunting for non-poisonous mushrooms, take the time for a little advance planning. Stash some cereal bars, fresh fruit, cookies, cheese, and lots of water and juice into your knapsack, especially if you’re planning a long hike. Hunger quelled!

For meals, let simplicity be your motto. With a little preparation and a few good ideas, you should be able to whip up some one-pot wonders. Good options include pasta, or meat grilled on the BBQ. Juice, milk and even wine for the grown-ups are all available in Tetra Paks; not only are they handy, but no refrigeration is needed for that milk—at least not until after you’ve opened it.


“Mom, I’m cold.”
We like to pretend otherwise, particularly during the summer, but this is still Canada. That means it can get chilly when the sun goes down, even from June to August. Temperatures can dip down as low as 5 to 10° C at night, depending on where you are. So don’t skimp on warm clothing: hats, scarves, mittens, and blankets to put over sleeping bags—even long underwear could prove handy. When it comes to kids, you’re better off being oversupplied than under!

“Mom, I’m bored.”
First, make sure you choose a camping site approved by the whole family. If you have very young kids, consider a family camping ground, or a holiday centre or park that caters to children. These vacation spots usually offer activities that suit little ones, and sometimes parents, too! Got antsy adolescents looking for adventure? Try camping in the wild—no electricity, no toilets. Their challenge is to survive in the wilderness without the comforts of home.

Whichever camping ground you choose be sure to book by phone or online. There’s nothing worse than making the rounds, trying to find a free spot for you and your brood.

“Mom, it’s raining and I’m all wet.”
You’ve just started to unwind and the vacation is going swimmingly, when all of a sudden, the first drops fall. Make sure you’re prepared by packing rain gear for each member of your family; from rubber boots to pants and jackets, not to mention hats, and even an umbrella or two. You might seem like you’re courting bad weather, but at least you’ll stay dry.

Another essential? A tarp you can stretch over your tent to protect you from a downpour. You’ll need some cords to do this; get the how-to at your local camping supply shop. Veteran campers also bring along a small shovel to dig a ditch to collect water from the site, in case of heavy rain.

“Mom, it hurts!”
Of course, you’ll have a first-aid kit with you. Scrapes, scratches, mosquito bites, and little burns are quickly treated if you remember to bring this along.

If you’re camping near a swamp where the mosquitoes outnumber people, it could be a good idea to invest in a mosquito net that you hang from the inside roof of the tent to protect your little ones from nasty bites.

“Mom, I’m afraid.”
Explain to your kids that you’re out in nature, and during your vacation time they need to learn to coexist with the animals and the insects—after all, it’s their home you’re camping in. One animal you’ll want to keep away: bears. Remember this golden rule: do not leave ANY food, perfume, or toothpaste in the tent. If possible, put your garbage in the container provided by the camping ground. If not, hang the bag from the highest tree you can find.

Take your cellular phone with you for emergencies—not to check in with the office. Another safety tip: before turning in for the night, douse your campfire with a big bucket of water or sand.

Now that you’re armed with our tips, have a great summer vacation, and happy trails!

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