How Camping Can Nurture Your Child’s Development

Do You Camp?

Do you already take your children camping or are you looking to go camping with them for the first time?  If the answer is YES, then that is great. But, you may have underestimated just how much your child or children get from this activity.

In short, camping is GREAT for your child’s development and I am going to explain the how and why in this article.

Many people take their children camping to get away for a weekend or for longer family holidays.  Most of us who go camping go because we love it.  We love being outside, being with friends or loved ones, spending that quality time together or being out in nature enjoying all she has to offer.

Some people may also send their children to camps.  Americans have their famous summer camps and many other countries have similar opportunities.  With most people I know, it is with clubs and organizations such as cubs, brownies, scouts, guides etc. But, do you realise just how much doing such outdoor activities help your child grow and develop?

No matter what type of camping your child participates in they will be learning and developing from it.  Hey, even as adults it can help us too.

So whether your child is two or twelve there are always ways in which they will be learning and developing while camping although it is not the main focus of your trip.  But, if you do feel your child could benefit from a little gentle guidance or a little lift with their self-esteem there are ways you help while away by including some activity to support such things.

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Working Together & Good Communication

Family Circle of Hands

Whether it starts with the planning, packing of the car, carrying equipment or putting up the tent working together is an important part of camping and children should be encouraged to participate in as much as possible.  The older they are the more they can help and work with you to get things done.  Even two-year-olds can hold tent pegs or fetch things for you.

Working together not only helps get things done quickly but can help children learn responsibility, create a sense of achievement and also encourage the development of new skills or honing of already acquired skills.  Communication is also key when working together and it is useful that everyone learns that not only is listening important but that clear and concise verbal communication is important too.

This is something for you to think about as it can be frustrating when things communicated are not clear e.g.  You ask your son to pass you the tent pegs while you are holding tent and guy lines in place. He passes you several pegs but they weren’t the ones you wanted.  He may have passed you the Y-shaped plastic pegs when you wanted the steel stakes.

It is starting to rain and you are frustrated because he never gave you the right ones and he is thinking “I’m trying to help but I can’t get it right, I am rubbish at this”!  Now, this was just down to unclear communication and it has negatively affected both of you, right?  So get clear with communication, model good communication skills to your children. 

If you had been clear and asked “son, pass me the steel tent pegs that are in the grey tent peg bag lying at the back of the car”, then chances are you would have gotten the pegs the first time and this would have been a very positive interaction and your son would have felt good.

Kids Having Fun

Quality Interactive Times Together

Camping completely allows for quality interactive time together or bonding between families.  When this time together is positive and everyone is fully engaged in it the time together creates such a positive impact and emotions for everyone.

The children feel important and loved. I’m not saying they don’t already but in today’s busy world it is difficult day-to-day to set aside quality time with your children. Sometimes this is even because the children have such busy social lives.

It allows you to become a role model for your children.  Take the lead when dealing with situations, learning new things, having fun. Now the latter is of most importance. Show your children that YOU can have fun, have fun together, laugh together. It really helps when you can show them the lighter side of life where possible.

Time together allows you to observe your child and learn about them. Time together allows for freer conversations and a chance for them to open up to you about their thoughts and feelings.  This not only allows you a chance to see your child’s strengths and weaknesses so you can better guide them.  It also allows you a chance to support them in areas where they may be struggling.

Having that support and unconditional love from a parent is a huge thing for a child. It can be common from talking to other parents who frequently camp that this is often a time where a child confides in them about things going on for them in their lives.  This can be them getting bullied at school, not feeling they fit in with a particular group of friends or them having a new boyfriend/girlfriend. 

If your child does decide to share anything with you it is important to take the time to explore the situation with them and give advice and guidance where you think they may need it.  The fact you are in a more relaxed environment should help by allowing you extra time to do this if and when necessary.

Promotes Self Esteem

Teenage boy making tea while camping

Camping is great for building your child’s self-esteem.  This can be encouraged by allowing them to help when setting up, cooking, doing dishes etc.  Doing things together and including them in the whole experience gives a sense of belonging and responsibility.  Make sure you also allow time to play together as a family too.

Being away from as much technology as possible also helps as in today’s technology-driven world many children suffer low self-esteem through what is shared and promoted on social media.  We are now learning just how negatively this can affect the younger generation’s mindsets.  With children of such a young age being bullied, feeling low and depressed and feeling like they have to live up to social media standards, life can be difficult for them.

Disconnecting from this and allowing them to be themselves can have many advantages.  Making new friends, trying new activities, spending more quality time with their families can not only be fun and allow them to get away from the online world but is shown to also be great for positive self-esteem.

“The building blocks of self-esteem are belonging, learning, and contributing. Camps offer unique opportunities for children to succeed in these three vital areas and even beyond home and school.”
Michael Popkin, Ph.D., family therapist and founder of Active Parenting

“At camp, children learn to problem-solve, make social adjustments to new and different people, learn responsibility, and gain new skills to increase their self-esteem.”

Encourages Learning

While away camping you are for the most part somewhere new.  Whether this is another part of the country, another country or just within nature there are plenty of learning opportunities.

It can be anything from learning how to put the tent up, how to fish and tie knots to learning about another culture there is always something new to learn and this should be greatly encouraged.

Children Learning

It is not just the children who learn but the adults too.  It is a good practice to allow your children to see that you do not know everything and you learn new stuff too.  This is a good time to speak about how learning is for life and not just in the classroom.  To continue moving forward in life we all must continue learning and YES learning CAN be FUN.

Encourage your children to and as a parent looks for learning opportunities, allow your children to learn from you AND with you.  It feels good when we learn new things especially when it’s physically to do things.  Things such as learning a new game, new activity, new sport. As well as learning it again is helping to promote positive self-esteem.

Life Skills

Learning is not just for an academic goal or knowledge base.  Learning life skills is a huge part of everyone’s life. When camping life skills are even more abundant.  Not only can your child be learning life skills such as working as part of a team, good social skills, communication skills etc. they can if you choose to teach them be learning about what nature can offer. 

Things such as edible plants, free-growing fruits, fallen wood to build a fire for heat.  Making a fire is a great skill to have.  Knowing where to find items to start a fire, using fallen branches and how we should never cut them off a living tree unless completely necessary.  The best places to make a fire –staying safe, staying away from anything that may catch fire accidentally.

Children Making a Den in the Woods

Allow them to build dens, give them a tarp and guy lines to play with.  Kids really enjoy this and for them, it is Fun, in reality, they are using their brains to problem solve and design a shelter.  Knowing how to make a great shelter and taking into account the elements such as wind or rain can maybe be a real lifesaver one day.

Teach them to respect nature and all she has to offer.  Teach them how leaving litter around can harm animals and affect nature.  If they learn this from a young age they will grow up more conscientious about their impact on the world they live in.

You never know they may take a real shine to learn about survival, nature or any other outdoor pursuit that will help them live healthier than if they were to sit in and be in front of a computer all day.

All of the above can be achieved and experienced by children of all ages and stages of their lives.  As long as all learning and activities are experienced at an age-appropriate level for the child. Not only is it great for the children I’m pretty sure as parents you’ll experience many proud moments with them along the way.  The time together when camping can be quite intense compared to everyday life and allows you to notice and experience so much more with or of your children that it can take you by surprise.

Now I am not at all saying you should take your child camping just for developmental purposes, not at all! What I am saying is just keep in mind what your child may actually be learning and experiencing while camping and if you can enhance this a little further and wish to do so that is GREAT.

All too often we think about what WE as adults are gaining from a holiday or time away, such as a break from work, some downtime and even spending time with the kids.  We do sometimes forget to look at it from their point of view and what they also get from it.

Learning, spending time together and family bonding can be and should be enjoyed by everyone.

For me, this is just another reason why camping is one of the best activities for everyone.

*If you enjoyed reading this you may also like

If you are looking for fun activities for everyone to enjoy while away, may I suggest this book. This is a great book for all the family to read. Simon McGrath, Editor in Cheif at The Caravan & Camping Club explores Hundreds of Fun Things to Do! Many are taken from his personal experiences of camping over the years with his own family.

It is a really enjoyable book and even if you don’t have kids there are many activities that you can do with friends or your partner.

Do you feel the same? Is this something you think about when planning a holiday?  Please leave a comment below to share your thoughts.

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2 thoughts on “How Camping Can Nurture Your Child’s Development”

  1. We have 5 children that are all grown now but, we went camping a lot. Sometimes just because we wanted to, we would go camp at the nearby creek, or the children would camp in the backyard. We live on 130 acres so they were all very good at exploring already. We took many trips and almost always camped on the trips. It was good bonding time and learning time for all. I really like what you are saying here and I totally agree with it.

    • Hi Lynn and thanks, I know most people camp because they enjoy it and so do the kids.  This is just more food for thought or another reason to go camping, as if we really need any. 

      Bet you and your kids have a lot of great memories.


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