With warm weather now upon us, baby boomer grandparents turn to thoughts of how to entertain their grandkids at times over the summer break if the opportunity or need arises.
Today’s guest poster, Gemma Tyler, suggests that taking the grandkids camping — now dubbed “gramping” — can provide a fun-filled and memorable multi-generational outing. Gemma regards camping as a great bonding experience, and I agree.
But if you haven’t camped for a while — maybe since your own kids were young — you may be feeling a little rusty about the basics: especially keeping young children happy and occupied in the outdoors.
So Gemma offers five practical tips to keep in mind before you get to the fun parts like hiking, toasting s’mores over an open fire, and maybe telling a ghost story or two.
By Gemma Tyler
Whether you’re putting together a classic tent-camping trip or enjoying the comforts of an RV outing, spending quality time with your grandchildren is the common goal. Here are five tips to make camping with your grandchildren a pleasurable experience for everyone:
#1 Ensure You Have the Right Gear
If you aren’t going by RV, the first thing you need to do is make sure you have purchased a good tent or tents, which will provide you all with enough room to sleep and live comfortably for the duration of your trip. Pick up some hiking boots, make sure there are plenty of warm, comfortable sleeping bags, and also gather all the essentials in terms of food, toiletries, medications, and first aid kit. To make things easier, draw up a dedicated checklist and ensure that it is ticked off when packing to go and return. This interactive camping checklist from Outdoor Union should prove to be very handy.
#2 Plan Everything Carefully
Kids (and grandparents!) may often need to use the bathroom, so if you’re reserving a campsite, pick one that’s fairly close to the bathrooms (but not too close, because public bathrooms can get quite smelly). The same goes for other facilities that are being provided, such as water taps. As a side note, prepare to get less sleep than normal. When away from home, or excited, kids tend to sleep less, and you need to be ready to awaken at dawn if necessary. Of course, you may find that a night of sleeping in a tent will “inspire” you to get up early anyway.
#3 Pack Games to Keep Them Entertained
Bring plenty of board games with you to keep the little ones entertained if you are struck by bad weather or aren’t feeling up to hiking that day. Bored kids can be grumpy kids, so playing some classic games will not only allow you to all spend time together, but turn what could be a bad day into an enjoyable one.
#4 Keep it Short to Start with
In the beginning, you should stick to one night (maybe two) away with the grandkids. This lets them get used to the situation, and also allows you to see the way they behave when away from home and their parents. It reduces the stress for you and the kids, as well as allowing you to become familiar with the concept of camping together.
#5 Remember Your Camera
Pictures are essential to retain the memories of the camping trip for years to come. Consider going beyond your smartphone and have an action camera packed and ready to go for the duration. Making prints afterwards means that everyone can have their own mementos.
With these five tips in hand, you are well on the way to camping success! And don’t forget to put your health first and are in good shape to go – especially where hiking is involved!
If you’re interested in more information on outdoor fun such as camping and hiking, check out her Ultimate Info Guides for more details.
Note to Readers: Want more ideas for traveling with grandkids? I highly recommend a new children’s book titled Pap Pap Goes to Paris and So Does Ricky!, written by Jane Dempsey Watts and illustrated by my friend Lyn Martin. It’s a warm and engaging story, augmented by splendid artwork, about a grandfather who takes his grandson to Paris so that they can see and climb the Eiffel Tower. Along the way, your own grandkids can learn about the sights and customs of Paris and even practice some French phrases. It’s available at Amazon.com for $12.95, and is almost guaranteed to inspire kids to want to travel just like Ricky does.