You spent a lot time camping as a kid, and now that you have kids of your own, you’d like to pass on your love of camping to them. There’s just one problem: Your kids are less than impressed with the great outdoors. They don’t mind the occasional trip to a nearby park or a few hours on the jungle gym out back, but they prefer to be inside where there are no bugs and plenty of high-tech things to do. Your job is to convince them otherwise, that the great outdoors presents a world of fun opportunities, even without the modern conveniences of home.

Once you’ve made it clear you’re taking the family camping and you’ve gotten past the moans and groans, you can stir up the excitement. Start by giving your kids a peek at what’s to come with a backyard campout. Set up some tents, pull out the sleeping bags, grill a meal and engage in some fun outdoor activities. Have a scavenger hunt, play a game of night tag or have a sing-a-long. Schedule in a little education time and teach your kids camping basics. Share stories of your times camping as a kid and answer any questions they might have. The more your kids know and are prepared for your camping trip, the better sports they will be about it.

Get everyone, from the youngest to the oldest, involved in the planning. Keep the trip short, two to three days tops, and select where you are going together, bearing age and interests in mind. If your kids are older and can drive, you might want to select a campground not too far from town. That way, they’ll have something to do when they get tired of the outdoors stuff. If your kids are younger, you might want to select a campground with playgrounds and swimming to keep them busy. Wherever you choose to go, make sure there is plenty to do and the basic amenities are provided, like running water, bathrooms and showers. This is not the time to rough it.

Give everyone a say in the activity planning and allow for free time. Intersperse some of the activities offered with your own. Weave in a hike through the canyon with some swimming or fishing. Cap off the day of fun with dinner out and a movie. Your kids will be more inclined to join in, if given the opportunity to engage in activities they are used to, like dinner and a movie. Should your kids see something else they would rather do or get sidetracked during an outing, let them. There’s nothing wrong with spontaneity.

Pack the right stuff. There is nothing like a long day of shivering in soaked clothes to turn off kids to the outdoors for good. Check the weather forecast and be prepared for the unforeseen. Bring sunscreen, insect repellent and a first aid kit. Bring plenty of extra clothes and food. Keep the menu simple. Choose items you can cook well. If you serve your kids lousy meals day after day, they will soon tire of the trip and whine to go home. Bring all of the things your kids cannot live without, like their favorite blankets and stuffed animals, cell phones, music players and laptop computers.

Make a fuss. Happiness is contagious, so let others know how happy you are about the trip. Mention it often and mark the days off the calendar to the big event. Once you arrive, continue your jovial attitude, no matter how long it takes to set up camp and get the fire going. Your kids will pick up on your attitude and get excited, too. Even teens will get in on the fun if everyone else is having a good time.

Involvement is key when camping out with kids, especially those who would rather not. Get their help with the planning, keep them in the know and spend as much time as possible with them on the trip. The more your kids feel like they are a part of the trip, the less they will fuss and the more receptive they will be to the idea.


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