Tips for camping with kids

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In British Columbia, we’re blessed with some of the most naturally beautiful camping sites in the world. Tall mountains, rugged coastlines and evergreen forests marching off into the distance; all just a car ride away.

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For those of us with little ones, though, there are special considerations to be made. There are so many distractions in the modern world that a lot of kids don’t know what to make of the great outdoors. Here are a few tips to make sure your next jaunt into the wild is a worthwhile one.

Ditch the electronics

Kids Playing / Shutterstock

Image: Kids Playing / Shutterstock

These days, kids of all ages are constantly exposed to computers, tablets and smartphones, and studies are beginning to suggest that these things can have serious effects on things like sleep cycles. While having a phone on hand for emergencies is a necessity, try and keep video games, texting, YouTube, Netflix and other frivolities to a minimum.

“Just getting kids in the outdoors and exploring our natural environment is something kids don’t get to do enough of,” says Lisa Stiver, General Manager for the YMCA of Greater Vancouver. She says the myriad forest games that require no equipment or supplies to play, such as “hide and go seek” and “tag,” are a great way to keep kids occupied, active and engaged, without resorting to technology.

“It’s an opportunity for kids to be active and leave the screens at home,” she says. “Doing things like that as a family is especially great, because everyone is engaged together. With life’s busy schedules you don’t get that opportunity very often.”

Pass on some camping skills

Outdoor Cooking / Shutterstock

Image: Outdoor Cooking / Shutterstock

Making your way through the outdoors requires a specific set of skills, ones that kids these days might not have a lot of experience with.

Stiver says there are many activities you can do with your children to foster their interests and educate them on their environment.

“Outdoor cooking is one that I think kids don’t get that opportunity to do anymore, since meals are often on the go,” she says. “They can learn about their environment and the different kinds of trees or animal prints, as well.”

Camping without a trace

Man Walking in Forest / Shutterstock

Image: Man Walking in Forest / Shutterstock

When it comes to camping outdoors, Stiver says it’s important to practice “no-trace camping,” ensuring that your imprint on the environment is as small as possible. “What that means is you stay on the paths, you don’t wander off the paths so that you’re not impacting the environment,” she says. “Everything that you bring in, you bring out with you. Garbage, recycling, even bathroom products – everything gets brought back out and disposed of environmentally.”

Luckily, when it comes to hiking trails, B.C. is blessed. With hundreds and hundreds of miles of path all throughout the province, it’s a great opportunity to show your kids how amazing nature can be, and with things like this list of all the hiking trails in and around Vancouver by Vancouver Trails, it’s even easier.

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Shawn O'Hara Shawn is a Staff Writer at Vancity Buzz. He loves writing about news, arts, movies, comedy, and culture. Some would argue Shawn is too old to still play Dungeons & Dragons. Shawn would disagree.

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