Camping with Kids

Camping and Reading
Every year, when I was a child, my aunt and uncle would take me camping with them and their own kids. I brought my own tent and we spent a week eating tuna sandwiches, paddling rowboats and climbing trees. So last year, I decided it was time to start my own camping traditions with my kids. We took a weekend camping trip and are planning another one for this year. It is not the easiest way to vacation, but it is fun, relatively inexpensive and a great way to get the kids reconnected with nature. (Mine cannot be the only ones way too attached to their electronics??)

If this sounds appealing to you, here are a few tips for getting started, as well as some suggested reading from the Mercer County Library System.

  1. Start small. I was not ready to jump into a week-long trip like I did with my aunt and uncle as a child. My family started with a weekend trip. You could even do overnight in your own backyard first, to get a feel for sleeping in the tent. It is good practice, especially for small children who might need some adjustment to new sleeping conditions.
  2. Decide what kind of campsite will most appeal to you. Camp sites vary from very rustic to full of amenities. I am not that rugged, so I prefer to stay at a campsite with easy-to-walk-to bathrooms and showers, as well as safe drinking water. Many family-friendly campsites also offer additional amenities like pools, playgrounds, live entertainment, game rooms and on-site shops where you can stock up on supplies. They can make camping easier, but also tend to be a little more crowded and feel less like getting away from the hustle and bustle. Also, if you are not an experienced camper and are afraid you might forget or run out of something, pay attention to the location of the campground. Having a supermarket and/or restaurant nearby can be convenient.
  3. Plan activities for your kids. Do not be surprised if you hear the occasional refrain of “I’m bored” from your kids. Most kids today are not used to a weekend away from it all. It is a good idea to bring some pre-planned activities with you. These can include bikes, playing cards, bubbles, glow sticks, Frisbees, crayons and coloring books, and books to read. These are especially important if the weather is a bit rainy. You can always ask your librarian for a read-aloud book the whole family will enjoy! You could also put together nature scavenger hunts. Just remind your children never to wander too far from an adult. It can be easy to lose your sense of orientation on a camp ground.
  4. Do not forget the basics! Bring things like flashlights with extra batteries, folding chairs, a well-stocked first aid kit, and easy-to-prepare and nonperishable food. And do not forget the chocolate, graham crackers and marshmallows for s’mores!

Check out one of these books from your local library branch to get started:

Nonfiction Titles:

Camping Nonfiction Titles at MCL
Camping by Robyn Hardyman

Camping for Kids by Melanie A. Howard

Camping Activity Book for Families: The Kid-Tested Guide to Fun in the Outdoors by Linda Parker Hamilton

Cool Backyard Camping: Great Things to Do in the Great Outdoors by Alex Kuskowski

Campground by Katherine Balcom

How to Camp Like a Pro by Jeff Burlingame

Picture Books and Easy Readers:

Camping Out by Kyla Steinkraus

The Camping Trip by Cathy Hapka

Scaredy Squirrel Goes Camping by Melanie Watt

Flat Stanley Goes Camping created by Jeff Brown

Peppa Pig & the Camping Trip (Candlewick Press)

Ladybug Girl and Bingo by David Soman

Do Princesses Make Happy Campers? by Carmela La Vigna Coyle

Just a Little Too Little by Mercer Mayer

Owly & Wormy, Bright Lights and Starry Nights by Andy Runton
Picture Books and Easy Readers

More Picture Books and Easy Readers
Chapter Books:

Boris Sees the Light by Andrew Joyner

My Big Fat Zombie Goldfish: Fins of Fury by Mo O’Hara

Just Grace & the Super Sleepover by Charise Mericle Harper

Hey! Who Stole the Toilet? by Nancy E. Krulik

Save Rafe! by James Patterson
Chapter books
-Christine C.


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