1. Keep your first trip short

Want to introduce your children to camping? Start out with a short trip close to home. Think about camping from a kid’s point of view. You might even want to make a practice run in the backyard or the living room. Camping can be such an amazing experience. But, starting out slow should help you find out what experiences are fun for the entire family.

2. Picking a campground

When choosing a campground, make sure you choose one that has lots of things that kids will want to do. We always look for one that has a playground or swing set. Playgrounds are a great place to visit where other families will also be hanging out. You can exchange information about great kid-friendly camping sites. Camp Riverview has a playground and kid-friendly activities every evening during the summer.

girl with water wings on  jumping into the Frio River

3. Safety

Safety is a priority when camping with children. If you have toddlers that like to put things in their mouths, make sure you scour your campsite area for sticks or other items that might make their way to a little one’s mouth. At Camp Riverview, we clean every campsite as soon as a guest departs and check it again prior to the next guest’s arrival. 

Consider using a sharpie to write the campsite number on the back of your child’s hand. Sharpie ink is easily removed with hand sanitizer, but otherwise won’t come off even if the kids go to the pool or splash park.

4. Involve the kids

Kids want to be part of the team. Have the kids help put up the tent and make meals. You could do it a lot faster by yourself but involving the kids helps them to appreciate camping more. If your kids are younger, they can help with simpler tasks like rolling out sleeping bags or filling water bottles. Older kids might help set up the tent or even be in charge of planning or cooking an entire meal or making plans for activities. 

5. Figure out sleeping arrangements

Sleeping away from home and outside may be fun for you but new experiences can be a difficult adjustment for children. If you have very young children, a pack and play offers both a great place to sleep and a contained space when you are busy cooking or otherwise cannot constantly keep your eyes on them. A child sized sleeping bag with an air mattress underneath might be perfect for the kids. Make sure and bring their favorite blanket and stuffed animal to make them more comfortable in this new environment. If you have a child that is potty training, make sure and prepare for that with a kid sized potty or portable seat. Using white noise to sleep can be helpful to block out sounds of neighbors or just all those different outdoor noises that you don’t hear inside your home. 

6. Equipment

If you are new to camping and don’t have all of the equipment yet, there are websites that offer camping equipment for rent. Some local sporting goods stores offer this service as well. Sleeping bags or air mattresses are needed. If your campsite has a grill, maybe you will only need limited cooking equipment. Always bring a first aid kit with items for scrape and bug bites. Don’t forget lighting. A flashlight or head lamp is a must have camping item. If traveling with children that are still in diapers, make sure and bring more diapers than you think you will need. Camp Riverview has a small store with items that are commonly forgotten. If you don’t see what you need in the store, ask one of our staff members for help.

An RV parked near some trees in the shade at Camp Riverview

7. Plan activities

As an adult, you may be able to just figure out what to do when you get there but when taking kids camping, it’s best to plan out activities ahead of time. At Camp Riverview, most families spend several hours each day swimming, fishing, or floating in the Frio River. We offer fun activities in the evenings, plus we have laser tag and wagon rides. We offer free and paid activities every evening during the summer.  

8. Snacks and Meals

Bring along plenty of familiar snacks for the kids. Also, let them help with age appropriate activities around meal planning. Easy meals can include Hot Dogs on a stick or foil packets with meat and veggies cooked over or in the campfire. 

How to make campfire cinnamon rolls:

  1. grab a can of crescent rolls and pull them apart. 
  2. Individually, wrap them around a stick. 
  3. Mix together ¼ cup cinnamon with 1 Tablespoon of cinnamon. 
  4. Roll the skewered crescent roll in the cinnamon/sugar mixture and cook over a campfire for 5 minutes turning frequently.
  5.  For an optional topping, mix together ¼ cup powdered sugar with 2 Tablespoons of water and drizzle over the cooked rolls. 

9. Special touches for your campsite

One or two special items can really make a difference for your campsite. Consider a camp rug. They help make the campsite feel “home-like” and rugs are a good place to deposit shoes outside of your tent or RV. String lights make a festive atmosphere and kids will love having special lights strung through the trees at night. You can buy battery or solar powered lights if you will be camping without electricity.

10. Special tips for teens

Letting teens have a tent of their own is a good option when camping. Teens crave privacy. By giving them their own space, you are giving them some independence and control over their private space. Involve teens more heavily in planning and executing your camping plan. Give them fun tasks and the latitude to make decisions. This will make it more likely that they will want to go camping again. 

Camping is about being together and enjoying the outdoors. Make great memories with your kids by getting outside and working and playing together to make a wonderful camping trip. 

Camp Riverview has been serving families for decades. We hope your family will enjoy camping with us! Explore Cabin rentals or tent & RV sites here!