Ready to take the kids camping? Try these fun camping ideas for families so you’ll all be happy campers! From choosing a kid-safe campsite to kid-friendly camping foods and activities, these tips will fill your camping trip with memories.
You’ll also want to get our free printable summer bucket list for kids and play these great outdoor games this summer.
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25+ Fun Camping Ideas for Families
I don’t really come from a family of campers. But it is something that my husband and I have adopted into our own family!
As much fun as it can be to get pampered at a swanky hotel, it’s not always my first choice for a weekend getaway. Nope, I’d much rather get cozy around a blazing fire, get my fingers sticky from s’mores, and sleep out under the stars.
Now that we live so close to the mountains, Justin and I are really excited to pass along our love of roughing it in the great outdoors to our girls. We can’t wait to show them how much fun it can be to spend the out of doors.
“How much fun it can be” is an important phrase when it comes to camping.
While weather and mosquitoes can work together to wreak havoc on a campout, often times it’s a simple lack of preparation that keeps first time campers from being able to enjoy a new experience.
If you are taking kids along, it’s especially important to be prepared for changes in the weather, have food that’s easy to prepare, and know how to provide basic first aid.
Luckily, there are lots of good resources out there to help you get ready for living life on the wild side for a few days.
All it takes is a little prep work so that you can have a great time camping with your family.
By the way…if you happen to be a happy camper, too, I’d love to get your recommendations for favorite campsites–make sure you let me know yours in the comments, below!
Choosing the Right Family Camping Site
For new campers on a first campout, we recommend choosing a campground location close to home, or at least close to civilization (like a grocery store). This makes it easier to pack everything to get there, and makes the stress lower for parents and kids.
Not sure if you’re ready for a full family campout yet? Take a test run in the backyard with these tips for easy and successful backyard camping.
When evaluating a family campsite, you’ll also want to pay attention to the campground amenities such as:
- picnic table in the site
- a fire pit or campfire ring
- restroom facilities (portable, pit toilets, or flushable) and possibly showers
- reasonable quiet hours
- trails or a creek nearby – hours of fun exploring!
- a playground
When picking the campsite for your family camping trip, you’ll want to choose a site that is near the restrooms (but down-wind!) and near the other amenities that are interesting or important to you.
- Check out the best camping areas near you with these lists from TimeOut and Greatist.
- Find lesser-known local camping sites by checking local online groups (like Facebook).
- Read: How to Get a Kid Safe Campsite at Camping with Gus.
Be Prepared: Family Camping Checklists & Must-Haves
As I mentioned, being prepared can make the difference between happy campers (parents and kids both) and campers who end up packing up in the middle of the night and drive home. [And no shame — if you camp enough with kids, it will happen!]
- START HERE: 7 Tips to Making Family Camping Easier.
- Then read: Packing Tips for Camping Trips.
- Get a printable family camping checklist from Childhood 101.
- Print our camping kitchen box checklist here.
And don’t forget the toilet paper, wet wipes, first aid kit, sunscreen, and after sun sunburn treatment! (This stuff is amazing.)
Use Alternative Packing Options
Depending on the length of your trip and your preferences, packing camping gear in bins is a good alternative to duffel bags, backpacks, and traditional luggage. Bins stack easily for more vertical storage in the tent, and the rigid sides mean you can pack them f-u-l-l.
TIP: Pack sleeping bags and blankets in nooks and crannies throughout the car — you can fit a squishy sleeping mat in lots of places! Camp chairs and towels can also be creatively stored under kids’ feet or tucked between bins.
Extra large bins like these are great for bigger camp items like lanterns, emergency radios, skillets, hot plates, camp stoves, etc. while medium sized bins or extra large shoe bins are good for clothing, Bins stack nicely together, have flat tops, are water resistant, and pack up well since they aren’t odd shapes. They are also easy to identify by using large labels such as these.
Light Up the Site
The total darkness of a campsite can be disconcerting for kids! Help make it fun with pop-up lanterns, hanging rechargeable lightbulbs, plenty of glow sticks, and a few solar stake lights around the campsite — great for setting campsite boundaries and also for middle of the night bathroom trips!
Family Camping Activities for Kids
Kids are often content with adventures to explore the campsite and hike — or play at the playground, if you chose a campground with a play area.
But it’s always good to have a few extra activities planned during afternoon down time or the post-dinner wrap up before the sun goes down. Plan a nature scavenger hunt, bring board games and card games and simple toys like bubbles and sidewalk chalk — or even the kids bikes if you can.
Check out our printable summer bucket list for kids for more ideas, including
- 10 Nature Inspired No-Fuss Camping Crafts for Kids
- Simple Rock Painting Ideas + Tips
- Tips + Apps for Family Stargazing
- DIY Yardzee Dice + 25 More DIY Backyard/Camping Games
- 8 Easy Water Games + 25 Water Activities
- 7 Easy Patriotic Crafts Kids Can Make
Tips for Family Campfire Cooking
Whether your kids are picky eaters or well-rounded foodies, campfire food can be tricky to plan, pack, and cook. Be sure to pack the marshmallows, graham crackers, and chocolate… but what else?
Try these Easy Camping Menu Tips and Camping Hacks from The Frugal Girls to make planning camping food and cooking at the campsite easier.
You’ll also like these camping recipes:
- 8 Ideas for No-Cook Camping Breakfasts
- 5 Easy Camping Dinner Recipes
- 8 Easy Camping Food Ideas
- 25 Delicious Camping Recipes
- and 25 Delectable Camping Desserts
And a few more fun camping desserts to cook over the fire:
Take your camp cooking up a level with these techniques:
- Info on Dutch Oven Cooking | Dutch Oven Cooking
- Single Log Cookstove | Twisted Sifter
- DIY Solar Oven | Grocery Shrink
How to Keep Bugs Away When Camping
It’s part of campsite safety: keep food secured to keep away the wildlife, and protect yourself and the kids from the bugs to keep safe and un-bugged (see what I did there?).
Choosing a Family Camping Tent
When you’re camping as a family, it’s important to have a tent that large enough to sleep all of you comfortably *and* hold your luggage.
Shop these best-selling family sized tents:
Or check out these fun DIY glamping and camping ideas:
DIY Boy Scout-Style Tent Camp | The Lettered Cottage
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Featured picture from Travel and Leisure Camping
Read these camping tips and indoor “camping” ideas, too:
Cassity Kmetzsch started Remodelaholic after graduating from Utah State University with a degree in Interior Design. Remodelaholic is the place to share her love for knocking out walls, and building everything back up again to not only add function but beauty to her home. Together with her husband Justin, they have remodeled 6 homes and are working on a seventh. She is a mother of four amazing girls. Making a house a home is her favorite hobby.