We just finished a multi-family weekend camp out in the Olympic National Park, and it was a smashing success. Can you believe this was only my second time camping in my life? It’s taken a little time for me to become a camping enthusiast, but we’re getting there. I think it’s so important for kids to get outdoors and appreciate nature (and have some screen-free time), but I’m also learning that a successful camp out requires a LOT of planning — especially with kids.
Find out more about the Olympic National Park and its surroundings before you go so you can pack the appropriate clothes and gear. The weather here can be cold and rainy much of the year. Be ready for whatever Mother Nature throws at you.
Our Picks for the Best Olympic National Park Books
5 Tips For Camping With Kids:
Plan your meals like an expert. When you’re heading into the great outdoors and creating your entire living space from scratch, you’ve got to make sure every little detail is accounted for. That means no forgetting the ketchup for your hot dogs or leaving the paper plates at home. Of course, you can survive without some of these luxuries, but especially when you have kids in tow, you want things to go as smoothly as possible. I love this printable camping checklist from Mean Mommy Academy, where she helps you go through each meal and all the equipment, ingredients and items needed to keep you on top of all the details. That checklist made my shopping, packing, and cooking go off without a hitch.
Pack some comforts from home. For us, that meant bringing my boys’ favorite blankets and stuffed animals for bedtime, plus our sand toys and kites for playing on the beach. Being outside 24/7 is super fun and exciting, but once in a while, they needed a little down time (especially around bedtime) or just some familiar activities (like digging in the sand) to chill out. I also don’t think it’s necessary to pack a lot of “kid camping” gear, like mini chairs or roasting sticks, etc. Our boys were fine using the grown-up stuff.
S’mores! My boys looooooved roasting marshmallows around the campfire — actually, I think they would have been happy if we drove out to a campsite just to make s’mores and then drove home. Roasting on the open fire also provided excellent opportunities for talking about fire safety and teaching them to stay back from the fire pit. Even my nearly-two-year-old learned to walk around the outside of the campfire chairs, without getting too close to the flame. If your kids aren’t into the oooey gooey goodness of s’mores, find another campfire treat for them — maybe a Dutch oven cobbler, or make your own popcorn sacks.
Add in downtime. Don’t pack your schedule too full of hikes, outings, or tent-building. Kids love the free time to explore nature and get out and play. One day we stopped for a picnic lunch after a hike and let the kids run wild in a clearing, surrounded by the glorious Olympic National Forest — it was one of our best memories.
Research educational opportunities. I mentioned how much we loved the nightly ranger presentations about the local ecosystem — find out if your campsite offers anything similar. We also found Junior Ranger programs and scavenger hunt worksheets at the Hoh Rainforest visitors center. Working in a little extra hands-on learning along the way is fabulous in my book – learning while laughing is the key.
Books for Kids About Camping
Let your kids discover new experiences and more by doing a little research before you head out into the wilderness. There are books for every age group from toddler to tween /teen.
By Jane Drake The Kids Campfire Book: Official Book of Campfire Fun – build a fire, sing songs, play games, ghost stories, night nature, recipes, and more.
Books for Adults about Camping Plus Campfire Cookbooks and Activities
What are your best tips for camping with kids?