Camping is a lot of fun for kids. The wide-open space, fun activities, and exciting opportunities for new adventures are undeniably delightful.
Camping doesn't just benefit children but is an excellent way to teach children valuable life lessons. The best part is when these lessons happen naturally while you're playing and having fun with your kids in the outdoors.
Experiential learning is often learned easily because we learn by moving, acting, and doing rather than listening to lectures or reading. It's easy to forget things we've learned quickly while studying, but the lessons we gain from real-life experiences are much more lasting.
Camping trips can be a great source of experiential education for kids. Here's a list of 12 valuable life lessons your children will learn from camping.
1. Learn to Protect the Environment
A heightened appreciation for nature’s beauty increases a child’s understanding of the importance of preserving and protecting that beauty. When camping, it’d be great to mention the ways we can help keep our world clean, safe, and habitable for everyone.
Kids can help clean up by thinking about leaving the campsite the same way it was when they arrived, or even improve it by picking up after previous campers if they leave trash behind. Simple chores such as cleaning up after yourself are great reminders of the important role you play in keeping our environment clean.
As well as talking about all the resources that we use in our daily lives, this is a good time to talk about all the resources that are available to us. Talk about ways that the family can conserve water and energy at home. Simple things like conserving water, using less electricity, and recycling are great topics to discuss when you're out in nature.
2. Value of Family
Camping is the perfect time to spend quality time with your family. Away from work, study, errands, and routine responsibilities, we have an opportunity to simply enjoy each others' company.
We all have an opportunity to reflect on the relationships we share, and to appreciate the joy of simply being together.
3. Learn Self-Reliance and Survival Skills
Knowing how to hunt, fish, or cook over an open flame was common knowledge in older generations. These days, many of us lack many of these basic survival skills.
Camping is a fun way to learn self-reliance and hone our ability to survive under unusual circumstances.
Camping provides an excellent opportunity for kids to learn about fire safety and basic first-aid skills. Older children can learn how to clean their fish, how to find safe water to drink, and how to keep their food supply safe from animals. Here are just some examples; you may find many more as you go through your adventure.
4. Learn Teamwork
Camping is an excellent way to learn teamwork skills. It's a good time to let your child help with daily tasks.
Whether you're pitching the tent or cooking dinner, make sure you do it together, and talk briefly about how much easier things are if you work as a team. Your child will not only feel like a valued member of the family but they will also learn the importance that everyone plays an important role in everything they do.
Praise your child for his or her cooperative behaviors. Encourage them to continue developing these skills.
5. Become Resilience and Flexible
Sleeping in a tent might not be as comfortable as sleeping in your child’s comfy bed at home. Likewise, your child might miss some favorite toys or be a bit slow to adapt to the simple food at dinner.
These inconveniences and minor hardships are great ways of helping children learn the importance of resilience and adaptability in life. Crying and complaining will not make your regular bed appear in the middle of the campsite nor will they make your favorite food suddenly appear, and that is a good thing in the larger context of things.
Children learn to make the best of things and to be flexible and adaptive when circumstances require it.
6. Have Courage and Overcome Fears
Camping can be frightening for young kids at times. Especially at night, when the sounds of the wind, animals, and darkness combine with the unfamiliarity of the surroundings, it can be quite frightening. Even adults sometimes become nervous about talking about bears or wolves in the wild.
Remember that facing your fears with courage is an essential life lesson. Reassure your child that everyone is okay, but also take advantage of this opportunity for him or herself to learn the valuable lessons coming from stepping outside of their comfort zone.
One of the best things you can do for your children is to encourage him or them to learn new skills that involve effort and stretch their abilities.
Trying something for the very first time can be intimidating. Camping requires new skills in children of every age. For little ones, this means figuring out how to walk across bumpy, uneven paths or trails; for older kids, it could be learning to fly fish or pitching a tent.
Your child will not only learn this new skill, he or she will also gain confidence in the face of new challenges.
7. Practice Gratitude
It’s so easy to take the comforts of modern life for granted! We've grown accustomed to central heating and air conditioning. Even electricity and running tap water are luxuries of some sort.
Whenever we go without something for a while, it becomes easier to remember to be grateful for it. When you get home, talk with your children about being grateful for all they have.
8. Get Unplugged
For many young people, television, movies, social media, and video games seem like essential parts of their lives. Children sometimes see their parents distracted by technology, checking email, texting, and so on.
We often try to do too many things at once, which makes it hard for our children to get their undivided attention.
Camping teaches children about the beauty of simplicity in their lives. With fewer technological distractions, we have more time for talking, listening, relaxing, and refreshing ourselves. We come to experience life’s simple pleasures.
Camping activities such as telling campfire stories encourage qualities such as patience and creativity, which are harder to develop for children who are always watching TV or playing video games.
9. Learn the Value of Hard Work
Camping can be a lot of fun, but it’s also quite a bit of work. With the convenience of a dishwasher and a microwave, even cooking and cleaning up after meals may be more work than many people are used to.
Make sure that you don't do all of the hard work yourself, but rather let your child help out whenever possible. This will help them to recognize that hard work is valuable.
Children can help gather wood for the fire, then enjoy the warmth of the fire later on when the weather turns cold and everyone gathers around the campfire.
Similarly, the fish that a child catches and cleans itself is likely to taste much more delicious than the fish sticks that they get from the grocery store. Camping teaches you the value of hard work by doing things yourself.
10. Learn Problem Solving Skills
A camping trip wouldn't be complete without something going awry. When you're out in nature, away from your familiar routines and convenience, unexpected occurrences almost always occur at some point.
Maybe it rains unexpectedly when you’re setting up the tent or it's time for dinner and you don't have any plates or utensils with you.
It's a good time to let your child brainstorm ways of solving the problem. You might be surprised by some of the innovative solutions that kids create spontaneously; children tend to be quite creative when given the chance.
Regardless, know that those difficult times are helping to build their problem-solving skills for life.
Likewise, this is an excellent way to learn the importance and benefits of preparation and planning. If a problem could be avoided by better planning or forethought, don't try to cover up that fact.
It's not just kids who make mistakes; adults do too, and it's important to acknowledge this fact and discuss ways to improve things next time.
11. Learn to Appreciate Nature
The wonders of nature cannot be learned from books, accounts, or explanations. You need to experience these things yourself, and camping provides the best opportunity for that.
Ask children questions that encourage them to pay attention to their surroundings: What can they see, hear, smell, taste, touch, and feel? What does the air feel like? What sounds can they see when everyone is silent?
After a long day of hiking or fishing with your family, it’s always nice to sit back and enjoy the scenery.
12. Learn Humility
Surrounded by creatures big and small in the beauty and vastness of nature, it is easier to understand that we are not the only creatures that matter. When we look at our small problems and troubles, they seem smaller than when we look at them from a different perspective.
It's a great time to encourage children to respect the value of life and to emphasize being humble, empathetic, and compassionate.
With these 12 life tips, I hope it‘s clear that there‘s more to camping than just spending some time outside.
When you go camping with your children, keep these tips in mind and make sure that they leave with improved life experiences that will last them a long time.