If you've never been camping before, it may seem like an intimidating activity to try with kids. You may think it's too dangerous or difficult, or you may think that your kids won't really appreciate it. But the truth is that camping is an awesome family activity and one that can bring kids and parents of all ages together. So, I'd like to address five common myths:
1. Camping with kids is dangerous.
If you haven't spent much time outdoors, camping might seem like an activity fraught with peril. Forests are filled with bears, and snakes, and rabid raccoons, right? Wrong. Most of these critters are painfully shy of people and do their best to avoid contact. Most run away the second they hear a person coming. And let's face it, when you're camping with kids, it's unlikely that your gang will be quiet enough to sneak up on any of these critters.
2. Camping with kids is hard.
I know what it feels like to spend half the morning to prepare your family for an outing to the local playground. So it may seem and impossible venture to get all of the gear, food, and people ready for camping, but it's not nearly as hard as you might think. Sure, camping with kids requires a little planning (kids who are hungry or cold will NOT have fun,) but once you do it once, you'll know what your family really needs on a camping trip and what you can leave behind. If you're new to camping, do a trial run by camping in your own backyard. It's just as fun as camping in the woods and a much easier way to work out the glitches of camping as a family.
3. Camping with kids is too expensive.
Look at any outdoor catalog and you might think it costs a fortune to take your family camping. But most of the gear and gadgets sold for camping is unnecessary. All you need is a safe, dry place to sleep (tent or camper) and some way to cook your food (cookstove, or small BBQ). You don't even really need sleeping bags if you don't mind loading up your car with blankets and pillows. If money is tight, stick with the absolute basics to make sure that your family is warm, dry, and well-fed on your camping trip.
4. Kids will whine if you take them away from all of their stuff.
My kids love to watch movies. They also love their video games almost as much as I love my smartphone. But you know what else we all love? Making forts out of sticks, hiking, building a campfire, and (of course) eating lots of ooey-gooey s'mores. I know that a lot of kids enjoy the comforts of home, but you will most likely find that all of the wide-open adventure of eating, sleeping and playing outdoors will more than make up for the gadgets that are left behind.
5. Camping with kids is too much of a hassle.
OK, I won't lie to you. It takes a bit of effort and planning to plan a successful camping trip, with kids or without. But the amount of planning and effort is directly proportional to your experience with camping. If you've never done it before, it may seem overwhelming, but each time you do it, you will refine your efforts to what works for your family. And it is so totally worth it. Trust me, every time you watch your kids become enthralled by a bug or learn a new skill (like how to pitch a tent), you'll be glad you made the effort. And you will immediately start planning your next trip.