Filed under: Entertaining Kids at Camp, Entertaining Kids at Camp, Grandparent Hints and Tips, Preparation & Readiness, RVing with Grand Kids
5 Tricks to Make Your Grandchildren’s Camping Vacation a Lasting Memory
When you’re used to flying solo (or as a duo), a week of camping with grandchildren can be as stressful as it is fun. Here are 5 quick tips to creating a functional, safe and enjoyable environment for your short-term (and just plain short) guests.
1) Kiddy-Up Your RV
Besides packing kid-stuff, think about how the RV itself is or is not a place that welcomes your grandchildren. Just like you would child-proof your home before they come to visit, you should child proof your RV. Don’t forget to cover electrical outlets, eliminate dangers like hanging blind cords, and secure stove knobs from accidental turn on. I’d also suggest taking a good look at how easily your door opens outward – I’ve seen too many children push on the screen only to pop it open and tumble down the steep RV steps.
Create a fun, comfortable place for your grandchildren to sleep in the RV too. Camping with grandchildren is the most fun when you’re not exhausted from lack of sleep. When I was younger, my grandfather had names for each part of the RV, labeled from his old naval days. There was the poop deck, the crows nest and of course, where Grandpa slept was the captain’s quarters.
If you’re taking your teen grandchildren camping with you, remember that their needs are different too. My grandfather mounted a mirror on the wall next to an outlet, and used a new cutting board to create a “dressing table” that folded down flat against the wall when not in use. It was the perfect space for blow drying my 14 year old feathered hair and putting on my makeup before heading out to prowl for cute boys at the campground.
2) Pack for the occasion
First of all, I want to remind you (in case it’s been a while since your kids were little) that whether your kid is 6 or 16, he is not good at packing. Here’s a hint you may not know, though – frazzled mom who’s late getting on the road to drop the kids at grandma’s house, well she’s not very good at packing either. Pack a few extra essentials for your trip camping with grandchildren such as extra tooth brushes, but don’t worry too much, there’s always a camp store nearby at most RV parks.
When taking along younger grandkids, toys are an easy addition to your rig. Turning one of your under-bench storage areas into a toy bin shouldn’t be too difficult for a one week trip. Pack movies that they enjoy, books for afternoon reads, and a few of their comfort items like a special stuffed animal or blanket. If you can, pack a few toys that your grandchildren have never seen before. They tire of their old stuff easily, but new stuff gets new interest. You don’t have to pack too many things – there are, after all, lots of things to do at camp, outside the RV!
3) Choose a kid-friendly campground
Campgrounds that have a higher Woodall’s recreation rating will likely be a better choice if you’re taking your grandkids along on the trip. (Find Woodall’s top rated campgrounds.)
Kids of all ages enjoy doing things – they want to swim, hike, ride horses, and play pool in the rec room. They also want to go offsite for fun too, so plan to visit some nearby attractions. Sometimes the most fun places for kids aren’t expensive at all. My favorite camping trip growing up included a day trip to slide rock, Arizona. Ghost towns, parks, and national monuments are just a few inexpensive things to do while camping with your grandkids.
Also, when choosing a campground, take a good look at your surroundings. Some parks create a safer environment for your grandchildren to play and roam a little freer by fencing in the RV park, posting appropriate speed limit signs, and even a lifeguard on duty at the pool. Of course, there is no substitute for you sticking close to them while they explore.
4) Set camping rules upfront
To ensure that your camping adventure is as safe as it can be, tell your grandchildren the RV and campsite rules up front. For example, if they will leave their RV to go to the campground restroom, would you like them to take their sibling? Are there rules as to how, when and where they can roam around the campground? Are there places in or around the RV that they should avoid? When will meals be served, and when is bed time? Are there special safety rules for the campground centered around the recreation available (swimming rules, lake rules, etc.) If there are chores you’ll be expecting your little guests to do (which I suspect there are!) set clear expectations up front.
5) Create a kid-friendly meal plan
Discuss with mom and dad what foods their kids most enjoy and try to keep them in mind when planning your weekly meals. Don’t worry, this doesn’t mean you have to make mac and cheese every night, or at all. But having this foreknowledge will allow you to buy breakfast cereal they enjoy and lunchmeat for sandwiches that suit their tastes.
Buy lots of fruits, vegetables and healthy juices. There is something about camping that stirs up an appetite for such refreshing things in kids. I always thought there was nothing better than cool grapes or sweet watermelon after a long day of swimming at camp.
If you love RVing and camping, I encourage you to share your love of the outdoors with your grandchildren! There is something about camping that brings people together. For more on this, read how RV Vacations Strengthen Family Relationships. So bring your grandchildren camping with you this weekend! You’re grandkids will never forget their camping adventures with grandma and grandpa… trust me, I know.
Search for places to go camping with kids.