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Camping with kids

What age is a good age to introduce kids to camping - and what's the best way to do this? Tents? Cabins? I'm at a loss - I have two boys, aged 6.5 and 1, and I feel like I'm doing them a disservice by not taking them out into the great outdoors for an overnight adventure!

21 Replies

I started taking my son camping when he became a Cub Scout. A weekend in a tent hanging out with his friends, fishing, and hiking. What I learned was keeping the focus on kid fun vs adult fun (kids want to do things, not just see them). 

I recommend bringing a pack n play for your youngest to sleep in if you have a tent that is big enough. You can also use the pack n play outside of the tent a put a fitted bed sheet over top to protect from sun and bugs during naps. Air matresses, blankets and bed sheets rather than sleeping bags are helpful to get your kids comfortable in an unfamiliar setting aswell. Like everyone else has mentioned, prepare for a sleepless night the first few attempts but I think the sooner you introduce them to camping the better! 


So my mom started talking me when I was only a few months old. We went to a camp ground in Minnesota not too far from where we lived. During the days she would put me in the carrier and go for short hikes and at night we slept in a tent. I don’t remember this obviously, but that’s what she wanted. My mom wanted camping and the outdoors to be a huge part of my life and now I’m 29 and it still is to this day! 

I stared taking my kids camping when they were a few months old. Car camping is definitely preferable when needing to dispose of diapers and needing a water source nearby. My kids are 8 and 12 now and I'm thinking about our first backcountry camping trip.


We started taking our kids around 1.  Setting up a tent in the living room, then the backyard, helpfed to create excitement.  We like camping near water for infants to play in.  With careful oversight, they can be entertained for a long time paying with rocks and splashing.


I have 4 boys who are now adults. We started camping when they were kindergardeners and we still enjoy camping together to this day!!  I also have many years experience leading outdoor adventure and camping programs for kids ages 6-18.  Some of the key things I have found over the years are that boredom and being hungry are your keys to a successful experience; keep em busy and feed em good.

Plan several activities to do. Let them help with chores eg. collecting firewood. For younger campers, crafts, coloring books, games etc.  Board games, playing cards, UNO are good for age 8+ during bad weather.

Good luck and I hope you enjoy this tradition as much as we have!


Great question!  Both my kids were around 3 months old for first car camping trips, we got the base camp 6 which is big enough for a pack and play. Though we did keep it early spring and late fall to avoid mosquitoes.  They are now 11 and 9 and avid outdoorsmen!   I highly recommended going with another family with kids similar ages, playmates simplify the trip. 


My daughters were 3 and 6 when I introduced them to hiking.  Buying each of them their own backpack, then whatever their age was, that is how much weight they got to carry in their backpack, not including the weight of the pack.  I made a game out of it.  So every birthday that came around, another pound was added.  

As stated in other posts, snacks are a great way to keep them going.  Start off small with the miles, and afternoon naps are a real blessing.


We've taken all of our older 3 kids (currently have a 7 week old -but this summer has been H.O.T., so no dice yet) camping while they were just a few months old. Like 4 months old. This is SO easy bc they just sit there and dont crawl etc. YES you are tired and getting up in middle of night - but I figure you can be tired at home or tired in a tent. (Hello - tent preferred!)

Bring that bouncy chair if you're car camping. Also some flashlight/dim lantern for night diaper changes, feeds. Also, a pack n play + 2 adults fits in a 4 person tent easy. We've even had 2 pack n plays in a 6 person tent, plus another child + 2 adults when my Irish-twin boys were babies. Also - just chill out and let them eat dirt & leaves and get FIL-THY. You'll have a better time if you do. If you cant handle it, just turn your head and look away. Ive done this - and everyone is still living.

For mobile babies, keep that pack n play for outside while you cook / clean and a blanket for them to roll around on the ground. 

Keep expectations low. Dont overplan activities, keep hikes short, plan for naps and keep food prep SIIIIIIMPLE! Like we had the same menu for camp weekends for... Years. It included things I woukd have TOTALLY scoffed at in my younger years - but hey, it was lower-yer-standards or no-camping. I mean hot dogs, pop-tarts. No fancy business. 

But long story short - WE LOVED IT. Kids (8 yo, 5yo, 4yo)Allllll loooove it.  You can totally do this!!!! Dont get discouraged - just do it and expect some tough times, but dont back down. 

I love your response, thank you! Sounds like you have such a great attitude about it and it worked out so well. Will definitely be keeping all of this in mind!