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Top tips for setting up camp with kids

Camping may not everyone's cup of tea, but an increasingly popular pastime for families who fancy a change of scenery and some outdoorsy fun. Over the last couple of years, my husband and I have invested in ALL. THE. GEAR. and I'd say we have SOME idea of how to make the most of camping holidays. Once you’ve got your head around what you need to buy / pack (more on this soon), there is the small task of keeping the kids happy and safe during the often laborious process of setting up camp. Here are some ideas.


It is no secret that snacks are a great way to keep your kids happy and busy - and this is especially true when you’re unloading the car, and organising your campsite. The kids will probably want to have something to nibble on for the journey (see here for our top tips for keeping kids busy in the car), but we recommend specific snacks for when you are getting the tents up. These can act as rewards for helping, or simply keep little hands busy while you get to work.

Muffin trays are a lovely way to display snacks and they double up as a plate. Pop a little bit of whatever your kids like in each muffin hole, and a slice of apple or regular cracker is suddenly much more appealing. Prepping food in Tupperware or resealable containers will make this super easy.

Before your trip, try to pick up bits and pieces that you don’t usually buy your kids but they are likely to enjoy - new crisp shapes, a different biscuit flavour, or miniature versions of their favourites. In our experience, this will feel like a special treat and perk them up while you’re hammering in the tent poles.

Bring spreads and lots of breadsticks and/or vegetable batons. Let your kids have a ‘sticks and dips’ fest (and try to ignore the crumbs in the pots next time you open them!). One of our favourites is chocolate spread on sesame breadsticks. Individual drinks cartons and pre-frozen yoghurt tubes are always a winner, too.


We keep a dedicated camping toy box with a few balls, bubble wands, some dressing up bits, face paints, buckets and spades (often used for mud / dirt as well as beach days - the silicone ones that scrunch up are brilliant HYPERLINK HERE TO SCRUNCH BUCKETS?. The kids love setting up a little play area, gathering some logs to sit on, putting a waterproof rug down and enjoying playing with toys and equipment they haven’t seen for a few months.


Finding and storing water is important when camping and having plenty of water at the start of your trip will help make things run smoothly and keep your kids happy and hydrated.

You might like to task your kids with filling up all the water bottles; make sure you have packed plenty in advance. They can roll them on the ground or carry them on their heads back to camp, just to shake things up. A prize for the most creative carrying adds another element of fun.


When camping, it is impossible not to generate some rubbish. However, this can be a great opportunity for your kids to learn more about recycling and how to dispose of rubbish safely and responsibly.

Firstly, put them in charge of working out how to organise your rubbish, such as general waste, recycling and food waste. You could then task them with choosing the right spot so that you avoid a whiff in the tent and make keeping camp tidy an easy task.

Get your kids to find out what the site would like you to do with your waste - this might involve a bit of on site research. Some campsites like recycling to be separated, and they may have a compost heap, which is all handy to know this at the start of your trip.


If it is pouring with rain, it can be tricky to keep the kids happy and dry. In our experience, heavy rain calls for screen time in the car. Check the weather in advance and make sure those tablets are charged.

Car karaoke can be fun (and noisy) - you can use a portable speaker and microphone - this one has served us well and is currently FREE! Link here.

The kids could also make a video diary on a tablet / phone: give them a few ideas to start them off - they can describe the journey, the campsite and commentate on what the grown ups are doing. They could even add to this each day and create their own little memento of the trip.

When the rain stops (it always does) and the fire is lit, and the kids are prancing around in their onesies with marshmallows it is worth every second of planning, preparation and physical labour. Camping is, in my experience, a beautifully tiring labour of love.


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