top of page

Simply Camping with Kids

So you used to be a keen camper, fisherman and all round weekend warrior. You're desperate to get the kids into an ourdoorsy, adventurous lifestyle but you're worried. Worried about taking your kids out bush away from the electronic babysitters. Worried you won't be able to fit enough toys in the car to amuse them for the drive or long weekend. Well, worry no more! Actually, you can worry all you like, but read this too.

There's not much point trying to get the kids into camping if you're just going to recreate everything they do back home, embrace the simplicity and strip life back a few notches. Our kids love the novelty of being away from some of their home comforts and we're always surprised how much they get into it.


Don't go over the top with your tent or the amount of kit you take with you. You'll spend 2 hours trying to get the kids to shut the fuck up while you argue with your co-parent-venturer about which tent pole goes where (and you'll both end up with a firm idea where you'd like to stick it!). By the time you're finished constructing the east wing you've missed the chance to get the kids settled round a campfire, or "bush TV" if you will. We just got back from a Great trip where we just took a couple of swags knowing we would each have a kid in with us. It took 5 mins to roll them out and then we were relaxing, getting to know the site and trying to make sure the kids were enjoying themselves. The kids loved that they could see the stars from their bed and they slept really, really well!

Take Toys that will Accentuate, not Distract

The whole point of getting out on a camping trip with the kids is to teach them to be adventurous and to teach them to appreciate the environment and enjoy the outdoors. Don't head out with plans to distract them with your laptop, projector and all their favourite toys. Take a drawing pad and trace some leaves, a camera to snap some wildlife, binoculars or a magnifying glass to check out the local creepy crawlies, a head torch for after dark exploration, a bike to explore your designated safe zone and some tools so they can copy mum and dad around the campsite. Check out these snaps that Isla took around Mataranka last weekend.

Do a bit of "Boring" Research

Spend 15 minutes on Google (or ask jeeves or whatever other search engine you're still stuck on, grandpa!) and make sure you know the area you're heading to. Have a few options in mind to mix up your itinerary in case there's a change in weather or a change in mood or if you run out of food in the esky (aus), chillybin (nz), cool box (UK). The last thing you want to do is find out on the fly that the walk is twice as long as you expected or that you really needed to bring mosquito spray or that there's bears in them there woods! We always love to see some fun animals so the that's the first google search - we met these cool animals down in Mataranka thanks to the knowledge of a couple of local mates!

Fun with Food

Eating out bush is always good. Make it a part of the adventure for the kids and whether you are cooking up a storm on the camp fire, or you've dragged the bbq along with or you're trying to inventively boil a kettle by rubbing two sticks together because you forgot to buy butane canisters on the way out get the kids involved and make it fun. But do it properly, teach them how to be safe around the fire, give them some proper jobs and they will love it. The other option is to use those eyes in the back of your head while you're cooking up a couple of eucalyptus fired steaks for them, which is a tricky balancing act.

Prepare to Fail

After 15 minutes googling, a carefully packed car, a couple of hours drive and swag carefully rolled out on the floor you'd be forgiven for thinking you were untouchable. Your fool proof plan is in play. But fool proof is not necessarily kid proof, kids have a nasty habit of laughing in the place of your planning, and things can go wrong. If they're not feeling it, if they're struggling to get into it for whatever reason, it's totally ok to call an early end to the trip or switch to a hotel for the second night. You can then head home and do some prep with the kids to put right whatever went wrong. If this does happen you'll still be one step closer to your adventurous parent lifestyle! A couple of years ago Isla got sick on the first night of a Kakadu adventure, so we rolled up the swags and made the 3 hour trip back into the city after about 2 hours of the camping trip.

Start small with a short drive and a trip to a camp ground you know well, you can build up to the big trips later. But keep it simple, that'll always work! Pack the essentials, couple of contingency items and away you go. Enjoy!


bottom of page