Top kids’ camping activities

The family camping holiday is a staple of Kiwi life. Packing up everything but the kitchen sink and heading off to the beach, river or countryside has created memories for many of us over the years.

While taking kids camping can be a lot of work, the rich experiences are worth it. Finding fun kids’ camping activities for them outside of their usual comfort zone and environment is part of the enjoyment. But if you’re running short on ideas, check out our picks for top kids’ camping activities:

1) Learn how to build a campfire

Obviously there are safety aspects around this. Close adult supervision is needed, as well as a prior check to make sure your planned campfire is permitted and in a good spot, taking into account proximity to objects such as tents, availability of water or a fire extinguisher, and the wind direction. However, it is a great skill for children to learn.

First, collect materials. River stones make a great border around a fire-pit, or find other rocks. Dry moss and leaves can be used to start the fire, then add small twigs as it catches (but not snapped off a tree, or “green” as they’ll be wet inside.) You always want air to be able to travel up through the fire, so place sticks in a criss-cross shape leaving gaps, and don’t be tempted to build a great big pile.

Keeping your wood to one side and adding it gradually ensures you’ll keep the fire at a manageable level. If you want to cook on it, you need to let the flames die down and allow hot ash and embers to build at the bottom, as this is where the best cooking happens. Don’t forget to fully extinguish your fire before leaving the area or going to bed.

2) Cooking

Of course toasting marshmallows is a given if you have a campfire, but there are other ideas kids can make themselves or get involved in.

Campfire calzone is a great camping meal that kids can make themselves. Take two slices of bread and add favourite savoury fillings, such as salami, ham, pineapple and cheese. Wrap it all tightly in foil and cook in the embers of the fire. You could also try making baked potatoes.

Ants-on-a-stick doesn’t involve cooking and is a fun snack younger children might like to make while camping. Spread celery sticks with peanut butter and dot raisins along the top to be the “ants.” They could also make their own customised scroggin for taking on day trips or walks. Help them choose seeds, nuts, raisins and chocolate chips and mix to their liking.

3) Crafts

A scavenger hunt is a great way to collect natural treasures such as leaves, petals and feathers, which can then be used for camp crafts. Press flowers in a book to take home, or make a vase to put wildflowers in by standing twigs around the outside of a jam jar, fixing in place with a couple of elastic bands and decorate with a ribbon tied around. Perfect rustic charm for your camp al fresco dining area! Other ideas can be found at websites like www.freekidscrafts.com and on Pinterest.

4) Geocaching

For a more high-tech activity, you could try geocaching. It’s a kind of treasure hunt using the GPS on a smart-phone to navigate and find “caches” hidden by others. Amazingly, they seem to be all over the place, so log onto a geocaching website before you leave home and see if there is one near your camping spot: www.geocaching.com explains it all.

Whatever you decide to do on your camping trip, remember to make it relaxed and fun – after all, this is the stuff memories are made of.

By Sadie Beckman

Planning a summer family camping trip? Get some great tips here.