When packing entertainment items for our trip I tried to bring toys that would help my boys interact with the camping environment. We had no video games or screens as a rule. This rule also helps Mommy and Daddy to unplug and really enjoy a true break from reality. The only screen allowed is a cell phone kept in the van for emergency purposes only. I put all their toys in a big tub from Sam's Club and it goes in a shady spot out of the way of foot traffic near the fire or camp kitchen. The boys were responsible for putting everything before we go to bed.
See my post on Family Friendly 4 Day Camping Menu, with Grocery Lists
And for more lists and organization ideas go to Family Camping Packing Lists
Toy Tub to interact with their surroundings
- Clip Board with blank paper is a true must for camping outdoors with kids. You want blank paper so they can draw or journal about they are seeing. Encourage them to do leaf/bark rubbings of the trees on your site, or draw the animals they saw on your hike that day.
- Pencil Bag for each child with markers, crayons, pencils
- Maps for each kids of the park you are visiting from front gate, there are usually free at State Parks. My kids LOVED these and took them wherever we went. Get several and don't be afraid to let them draw all over them. My boys found our campsite and drew on the trails we had hiked.
- Kids Binoculars for each child. We got ours for $3 each and I was so excited as they bird watched from our campsite. We also had an unexpected deer visit 300 yards from our tent and the boys got their binoculars out to see her better!
- Bubbles (and don't be afraid to join in)
- Water Guns and a 5 gallon bucket, especially if it's summer. We brought 10 varying sizes of guns that we had leftover from a party and the boys were able to share with friends we met along the way!
- Sidewalk Chalk. Chalk is great because you don't need a sidewalks to draw in nature, and it washed away quickly. My boys loved experimenting with the chalk on the trees.
- Play dough. Get some at Dollar Tree and be prepared to throw away at end of trip because it will filled with twigs and rocks :)
- Scavenger Hunt/Nature Bingo- Put these on clipboard and you don't need to bring it on a hike per say, but the scavenger hunts be a good way to process at the end of the day. We went through our bingo and checked off after dinner each night. when we found them all the boys were given $1 to spend at the camp store. You can make your own or find online. Camping with Gus has many free printables.
- Mason jars with holes in top to catch bugs
- Bikes and bike helmets. Call ahead to check skill levels and types of biking available. I love paved curvy trails, whereas my husband loves mountain biking, and our boys are only ready for straight, paved, and no hills.
- Glow sticks for after dark. You can get 5 glow bracelets at the dollar store and they are very worth it. They are also a good way to keep track of you kids as they play in the dark looking for for fireflies.
- Sand toys for beach
- Wooden Blocks. These are opened ended with lots of imagination needed they can add pieces of the nature surrounding them, like a twig castle flag or leaves for windows. My husband used old pieces of non treated woods from projects as kindling, so we just let the boys play with them and their pile of blocks got a little smaller every day:)
- Sports balls
- Matchbox car/Animals. These can be played in a dirt track the kids make or on a fort they make out of twigs.
- Extra bath shoes and extra pair of tennis shoes. We had to wash a pair of shoes a day almost because they were so filthy from all the fun:)
And another tip when camping with kids is be OK with your kids getting dirty! All these toys will get them chalky, dirty, sweaty, and much more. But they will also allow them to experience nature in their own concrete ways. Now that at the end of the day you can put their swimsuit on, suds them up in the shower, and put them to sleep because they are exhausted from all the fun they had! :)
|My dirty boy playing in the sand outside our tent....he even had dirt up his nose. |
Nothing putting him int he shower in a swimsuit with tons of bubbles couldn't fix:)