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Old 09-19-2016, 11:51 AM   #21
BCK
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Ours are 9, 8 and 6 now and it gets easier every year. They have all been camping from the start. A couple things we found really help...

When the kids were young I always threw in a box of white twine. We found that ringing outside the edge of the campsite with twine at the appropriate height for the toddler created a visual boundary and kept them from wandering. We either tied it off to the truck in the entrance or just used a branch for a "gate". It gave the kids a feeling of freedom and let them explore within the boundary.

Glow sticks are still our best friend. They are cheap at the dollar store and when the kids are young they don't care if its dark yet or not. They also help to make bedtime easier. A simple bucket and plastic shovel are great too and the kids seem to find no end of uses for them from whipping up a batch of pinecone stew to a house for bugs.
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Old 09-19-2016, 12:03 PM   #22
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Originally Posted by BCK View Post
When the kids were young I always threw in a box of white twine. We found that ringing outside the edge of the campsite with twine at the appropriate height for the toddler created a visual boundary and kept them from wandering. We either tied it off to the truck in the entrance or just used a branch for a "gate". It gave the kids a feeling of freedom and let them explore within the boundary.
That is a fantastic idea! Wish we had thought of that one 30 years ago!
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Old 09-19-2016, 12:08 PM   #23
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We endured constant replays of Barney. Over...and over...and over...and over...and over.
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Old 09-19-2016, 12:45 PM   #24
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I like the idea of having them help with the checklist before leaving home or the campground. You can use it to help them learn to read or pick up new words. If you just make everything a game, they will enthusiastically participate. "Awning....????" Everybody yells "CHECK!". "Leveling jacks...??????" Everybody yells "CHECK!!". Anything not done yet you take them with you to go do it.

Before long, we will have grandchildren who will go with us on our adventures. All these things will be helpful in making it an enjoyable trip just about every time.
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Old 09-25-2016, 07:36 PM   #25
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Similar to others, we started when my daughter was two and son was a newborn.

We always did short hikes "exploring" letting the kids pick direction on interconnected trails. Many walks to the playground and back. Visits to the campground hosts for activity time, Ranger programs (when available). Bike riding around the campground. Balls, kickball, soccer, football, softballs, sidewalk chalk.

That little dump truck and loader did a ton of campground earthwork until my son got too big for them. Daughter always enjoyed coloring, drawing, etc and we always had pads of paper, crayons, markers and paint. It's kind of funny, but the kids would get excited about seeing their "camper toys" after not seeing them for two weeks. It was like a new toy all over again.

We'd have a DVD player and let them watch a movie for "quiet time" mid day, but kept that limited. We've done the KOA's and Jellystones as a fun treat once every couple of years. Those places really aren't our cup of tea though.

Now that the kids are 11 and 13, things are different, but it's still about family time. Still do the rides, hikes and ranger programs, and still keep a football and basketball with us. They do some stuff on their own. I do have to admit, camping was a lot more work when they were young.

It's all good though!
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Old 10-03-2016, 08:49 AM   #26
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Going to a campground with swings, playground, etc. will go a long way to keeping young children entertained. And I assume you bring toys from home. But don't forget to use the landscape -- go for short hikes (2.5 yrs is not too young); look for and talk about 'discoveries' along the way (flowers, pine cones, toads and frogs, birds, intriguing pebbles, etc.) and bring along a magnifying glass to get an eyeful of what you come across; bring plastic jars to collect bugs and butterflies (but handle carefully, and let them go after a time); after returning to the camp site, talk about the child's and your favorite finds and why; collect fallen leaves and make leaf rubbings or try bark rubbings; collect items (if they are not protected by park rules) to take home to make ornaments or other mementos of the trip; take stuffed animals/puppets/figures they'd see in nature to play with; if there's a beach nearby, play in the sand; have coloring books and crayons handy but also give children blank papers so they can draw about their camping experiences; bring along a stash of nature and other books, and set aside a particular time of day to read them to the child (if you don't have nature books, check out a few from the library); doing a 'bird count,' even from the camp site, helps with counting skills; get them involved in camp chores, as appropriate, such as filling and carrying a small container of water (if you don't have a site supply), and bringing sticks to the camp fire ring -- which offers a great time to show how a camp fire is properly built but most important: learning safety rules; tell stories around the camp fire; watch clouds; take photographs to create homemade picture books to help them remember all year; visit nature centers, museums and zoos, and gather ideas from naturalists about kid-friendly, outdoor fun; there are various books that offer many more suggestions. That should be enough to get started! Have fun, enjoy the outdoors, and make memories.
Great ideas! I just started taking my 8-year-old. She loves it. I did make an activity box for her (crayons, markers, notebook, coloring book, reading book), but she loves taking pictures on my phone and then re-creating them in her notebook. I'm going to look for a good digital camera that she can use herself. She loves collecting "treasures" - stones, acorns, etc. I love that she's getting fresh air and learning to enjoy nature.
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