After recent lockdowns and travel restrictions, many South African families are only too happy to be able to spend time together outdoors, and there are tonnes of reasons why camping is a great way to do it. Apart from it being a more affordable way for families to travel and explore together, the benefits of camping for childhood development is being increasingly recognised by experts worldwide…
While camping can be challenging for any parent, here are some reasons to consider camping with your kids sooner rather than later…
The Benefits of Camping for Childhood Development
Increased Resilience = Increased Confidence
Practical skills, time away from technology, outdoor activity and family bonding time are just some of the things your kids can benefit from when they go camping with you, and all of these factors can result in increased confidence.
In an article published by Romper.com, experts explain that children who spend some time away from the daily comforts of their own home are more likely to have an enhanced sense of resiliency, which can help boost confidence.
“Learning problem-solving skills are important for resiliency, and when your child runs into a problem during their camping experience, the self-confidence they’re building will help them persevere when things don’t go according to plan. All of this sets them up to learn how to be resilient, according to both experts. Remember, the stakes are high when you’re camping. Resilience is absolutely required.”
Swapping Screen Time for Real-Time
It’s no secret that too much screen time inhibits the amount of real-time children spend interacting in social settings with family and friends, and there’s enough research out there to show how this hinders their development. In a published article by Screenfreeparenting.com the most commonly cited stat in popular media regarding typical child screen time is seven hours per day!
Camping is one way to limit your child’s screen time and being in nature offers loads of sensory stimulation for their development. Apart from the Vitamin D we get from natural sunlight, research also links healthy Vitamin D levels with enhanced mental planning skills.
Life & Survival Skills
Not that your child needs to learn how to fight off a leopard in the middle of a desert, or survive alone on a river floating on a branch for a month, but camping with your child is a great chance to teach some basic life and survival skills. Depending on their age, this is a good time to teach your kids how to start a fire, how to find safe drinking water and even how to purify it, or SOS signalling to name just a few.
Parents shouldn’t feel discouraged if they’re not experienced in certain skills – this is the perfect opportunity to bond with your child, learn and practice together on camping trips.
Another positive benefit identified by experts is that camping can develop and enhance family cohesiveness, which can play a big part in early childhood development. Being in nature also gives families the opportunity to bond and reconnect away from technologies and the distractions of everyday life.
Go Camp Weighs In
Some of our Go Camp team members are as familiar with camping with their kids as they are at installing a rooftop tent.
From the Cederberg to the Kgalagadi National Park, Go Camp’s Marketing Director and his wife, (Robert and Roanna) have been camping with their kids since they became parents…
“Whether it’s in your own backyard or out in the middle of nowhere, camping gives kids an appreciation for the simple things in life,” says Roanna. “Not only do we get to share our passion for the outdoors with them, but they develop perspective and a sense of gratitude for the natural world. It brings balance at a young age and no technology means more time together as a family.”
“We believe that camping with our kids is a necessity, not a luxury, and an investment in their future.” – Robert.
Roanna keeps a few things in mind when it comes to having a fun and ‘whine-free’ camping experience with the kids: “Give the kids ‘jobs’ to do. They love to feel useful and it is so rewarding for them to complete a task – even if it’s something as simple as setting out the camping chairs.”
Robert is all for exploring nature with the kids: “Once camp is set up, go and check out the new environment with your kids and see what it has to offer. Perhaps there’s something to build from broken sticks and branches, exciting trees or rocks to climb, caves to explore, or tadpoles in the streams to find together. There is always something to do if you look. We also like to let our kids roam and explore once we’ve made sure it’s safe for them to do so.
“A campsite in the Kgalagadi is like one big sandpit!” – Roanna.
Roanna says having easy snacks available throughout the day, as well as simple toys, is also key to a happy family camping experience: “Often, the usual routine gets thrown out of the window when you go camping. Having snacks available ensures you don’t have ‘hangry’ kiddos lashing out while you are trying to enjoy a leisurely braai together. When we go to the Kgalagadi we always take buckets and spades with us. The campsite is one huge sandpit and the kids can keep themselves busy the whole day! I also put together a simple picture-based checklist of wildlife in the area. They get so excited when they get to tick off a sighting from the list.”
Andrew, Go Camp’s Procurement & Operations Director, says that a big part of his childrens’ happiness depends on how much camping they’ve been up to…
“They are our ‘Camping Meter’. We can see when our kids NEED to go camping, and they’re always happier when they do. More caring. More respect for the smaller things in life. A spare table and chairs give them their own space to be creative, to eat and play.”
Tips for Camping with Kids
1. Where to Go Camp with Your Kids
From riverside & seaside, mountainside & countryside to private or off-the-grid, we’re spoilt for choice when it comes to the different types of campsites families can choose from. But choosing the right campsite to suit your family’s needs depends on many things.
If your kids are going camping for the first time it might be a good idea to save remote destinations and wild camping for later. Start with a campsite that offers plenty of amenities and one that is located in an area that offers lots of family-friendly activities, like nature walks or kayaking (if they’re able to).
Also read: 5 Private Campsites for a Romantic Getaway
Looking for a family-friendly camping spot by the river? Check out Xama Adventures Fish Eagle River Camp for your next family camping adventure.
2. The Right Camping Equipment
Getting the right equipment is key to having a comfortable, hassle-free camping experience with your family. Rooftop tents have all sorts of benefits, like quick and easy set-up and pack-up times, elevated views of your surroundings, and they enable you to have extra packing space inside your vehicle. Ground tents can take a bit more time to set up but they tend to offer more living space and your vehicle is likely not to consume as much fuel as it would while travelling long distances with a rooftop tent fitted to it.
Other camping gear like camping fridges, battery packs, and other ‘at-home’ comforts can make camping with the kids the first of many happy memories. The good news is that you don’t need to go out and spend a fortune to get fully kitted with quality equipment because you can rent it all from Go Camp.
Whether it’s just a few items you’re needing, or you want to get full-kitted with everything you need for your next family camping trip, browse and RENT equipment and accessories from Go Camp today! Click here for more.
3. Snacks and Camping Meals
From Chocolate Campfire S’mores to Butternut Curry Pootjie Curry, check out Chef Nina’s camping recipes for some family camping snacks and meal inspiration: click here.