Last weekend I went on a camping trip with my family to Gatineau Park in Québec. The first night went well, but then the rain came. Unfortunately the tent I bought at a garage sale for five bucks failed to keep us dry (not surprising), and we all woke up miserable in a pool of water. It wasn’t the first time. My ever-practical husband, fed up with us always hoping it won’t rain, decided to fix this problem once and for all. We bought a new waterproof tent, and now I’m counting the days till we go camping again – and stay dry in the process!
Camping is a ton of work with little kids, but I keep doing it because I think it’s important. It would be far easier just to stay home, where everything is convenient and comfortable, but then my kids would miss out on the many great lessons to be learned from camping. Here are a few of the reasons why we keep going back.
1. Camping teaches kids to love nature
The more time spent outdoors, the more comfortable kids become with nature. I don’t want my kids to fear the forest, but rather develop a healthy respect and love for it. There are also many spectacular sights that can only be seen by venturing off the beaten track, and camping allows us to do that as a family.
2. Camping teaches kids to appreciate the small things
It’s easy to take things for granted at home, but after a long day spent outdoors, there’s nothing quite so wonderful as a campfire, a hot dinner made in a single pot, a marshmallow on a stick, and a dry sleeping bed. Teach your kids to realize how great it is to have hot showers and flush toilets at home.
3. Camping gives a new skill to kids
Camping efficiently and comfortably does take skill, and the more you do it, the easier it gets. By teaching your kids how to camp, you’ll equip them with a skill that could come in handy later in life. It also teaches frugality and how to make do with less.
4. See the world on a tight budget
Camping is far cheaper than staying in hotels, and family car trips are usually cheaper than airfares. It’s a good way to see much of the world without blowing the bank account. Although buying good equipment is a large upfront cost, it will pay off over the years if you can avoid staying in hotels.
5. Teach your kids about the goodness of other humans
There is something about camping that fosters a rare sense of camaraderie among travellers. It’s easy to strike up impromptu friendships with people in a campground that, under normal circumstances, you might never speak to. It shows kids that most strangers are interesting people with unique backgrounds and fascinating stories that only seem to come out around a campfire.
6. Camping is a good way to break out of the daily routine
It’s easy to get stuck in a rut, but there’s nothing quite like a family camping trip to shake things up, trigger new conversations, and create wonderful lifelong memories. It adds an element of adventure to life, and kids thrive on that, as do adults (even though we often forget it).