12 Lessons Kids Can Learn from Camping

June 1, 2022

Taking kids camping is thought of primarily as a fun adventure – an exciting way to do something out of the ordinary and enjoy some time in nature.

However, you may be surprised to find that taking your kids camping has the potential to teach them all kinds of incredibly valuable life lessons that they may not learn by reading a book or being in a classroom.

Some of life’s lessons need to be learned with a hands-on approach, and camping is the ideal way to do this. You also get the bonus of getting to enjoy nature with your kids, which is a beautiful experience all in itself.

You’ll likely find yourself enjoying your time camping even more when you know your kids are learning new lessons right before your eyes that they will carry with them through the rest of their lives.

Pretty exciting, right?

If you’re curious what lessons your kids can possibly learn from camping, read on to find out.

Camping Life Lessons For Kids 101

Young happy family with two children and tablet preparing a trip.

1. Planning

Camping isn’t one of those things that just magically happens. It happens because you plan it. Even if the camping trip is a last-minute one, there is still planning when it comes to choosing what food to bring, what gear you need, where to go, and what campground to stay at. To help your kids in learning this lesson, allow them to be part of the planning so that they can see what goes into it. Walk them through the different gear that is necessary to bring for the trip you’re taking. For example, camping in the winter requires entirely different planning than camping in the summer.

This lesson is something that they can take with them to many aspects of their lives. Planning is required for things such as school, jobs, and more, and camping is a great place to get them excited about planning for things.

Identical twins are jumping from rocks in forest on hiking.

2. Taking Risks

This seems to be the opposite of planning, and in many ways it is. However, it is also important for kids to understand that taking risks is sometimes necessary for life. There is a time and a place for planning, and there is also a time and a place for taking risks.

When you are out in nature, you can’t plan for everything, and by choosing to adventure in the outdoors where you have limited control, that in itself is a risk. But think of the rewards for taking that risk. They seem endless. We could go on and on about the benefits of camping, the benefits that come from assuming some level of risk.

It is important that your kid understands the level of risk they should be taking. Something like going up to a bear in the wild is a camping risk that no one should ever do. However, risking going on a hike when it looks like it may rain is something more along the lines of what we are talking about.

Why are risks so important? Because they force us to get outside of our comfort zones, which is where growth happens. Think about it: if you wake up and do the same thing every day, if you live an entirely planned and calculated life, are you really ever growing as a person? The answer is “no.”

So, allow your kids the freedom to truly grow as people by doing things such as cooking over a campfire, getting wet in an unexpected downpour, and more. This way, they can learn how to handle when things don’t go according to planned and go with the flow.

Multi-generational family camping.

3. Family

Camping provides the ideal opportunity for some family bonding. Technology that often consumes both your life and your kids’ life is left at home, which means more intentional time to connect. In addition to that, you are away from the hustle and bustle and craziness of everyday life that often keeps you from connecting in a meaningful way.

And that strong bond with family is incredibly powerful in a child’s life. It gives them the support and trust they need to build their strength and future relationships with other people in their lives.

Girl toasting marshmallows.

4. Unplugging

The lives that kids lead today are packed with being “plugged in.” And that goes beyond just iPhones, television, and video games. We are talking about being plugged into school, sports, programs before school, programs after school, and more. Though those activities are important to your kids’ development and social lives, it can feel sometimes like every second of your kids’ days are planned with something they have to do and somewhere they need to be. And that can be exhausting. Not just for the kids, but for you as a parent too who has to keep everything organized and ensure they get to the right place at the right time.

Camping is your chance to unplug, to get away from the rigid schedule your whole family lives by regularly, and just go with the flow.  Even when your kids play with their friends after school, there is a strict start and stop time. But when they’re out in nature, your kids can explore in ways they never have before. They don’t have a strict schedule to abide by, really just the natural schedule of the sun.

To-do lists are necessary for life, but it’s key that you teach your kids at a young age that they need to find time away from their to-do lists and just enjoy. This can be challenging to do at home, the place where they are used to living by a schedule, so by going camping, you can shift their mindset into a place of less structure and more play.

Little boy collecting firewood.

5. Self-Sufficiency

You may not like to hear it, but kids are coddled far more in modern-day times than they were in the past. And, as a result, most kids are not as self-sufficient as they used to be. Camping is the perfect opportunity for you to teach your kids some skills to be self-sufficient. While they may not need to know how to boil water to make it safe to drink when they’re back home in their comfortable lives, this and learning how to build a fire, how to keep food safe from animals, and more are skills that are essential to camping, and that will give them the confidence to be self-sufficient in other ways when back in everyday life.

Close up legs of child with yellow rubber boots jump in puddle on an autumn walk

6. Flexibility

Though planning is a key part of camping, every camper knows that no matter how much you plan, no matter how many details you think you have figured out ahead of time, something will happen and derail your plans.

And that’s another important lesson that camping can teach your kids: the value of flexibility and the ability to adapt. So you planned to spend the day hiking, but the weather had other plans and now it’s pouring rain. Instead of spending your camping trip sulking, teach your kids to be flexible and find something else to do. Because that’s life: there will always be something out of your control.

Teach your kids that rather than focusing on what happens to you, focus on how you handle it.  How they adapt to situations will get them much further in life than them ensuring that everything happens exactly as they want or need it to.

Preschool little girl in sleeping bag camping.

7. Simplicity

We live in a world where technology rules and where there is an app for basically everything you could ever need. While that does provide convenience and allows us to be much more productive than we’ve ever been as humans before, it has certainly complicated things along the way.

And children have gotten caught up in those complications without even knowing it. That’s because they have nothing to compare it to. They are growing up in a world where those complications are normal to them.

Camping provides them the chance to peel back those layers of technology and get back to the simple joys in life. And it gives you the chance to do it, too. Even though you didn’t grow up in the age of smartphones and video games like your kids, you probably have adapted to the changing times and your kids likely see you checking your email often, sending text messages, participating in Zoom meetings, and more.

So allow camping to take your kids back to the basics and enjoy the simple things. Those simple things (such as talking, listening, sharing stories over the campfire, playing in nature) hold a lot of value for kids, and for you, too.

Little girl blowing on a dandelion

8. Gratitude

Things like technology, comfortable homes, electricity, running water, and more are all things we expect out of everyday life, and your kids do too. When you go camping, those things are no longer the norm. In nature, those things become a luxury. Thus, it’s a great way to teach your kids to be thankful for what they have. When they spend time in nature without them, they are better able to learn the value of something as simple as a long warm shower, and it will help them to feel more grateful for all they have in life.

Cute baby and mother walking outdoors.

9. Appreciation of Nature

Nature is a truly incredible thing and that’s a realization you can’t fully come to by reading a book or watching a movie. You can get a sense of its power, but not fully comprehend it.

By taking your kids camping, they get to experience first-hand how amazing nature is and learn for themselves that it is something that should be treated well and loved. If you happen to come across some trash on a hiking trail while camping, you can explain to your kids that by littering, Mother Nature is at risk and over time, this trail could potentially no longer be enjoyed in the same way they are enjoying it that day.

Teaching your children to respect nature is one of the best lessons they can learn. Far too many people fail to teach their children the importance of something as simple as recycling, but by being out in nature with your kids, you can show them that they have the power to affect nature and that they should always choose to do their best for the planet so that they (and everyone else) can continue to enjoy it.

Mother and daughter playing in the river

10. Perspective

When you spend your life surrounded by technology and other humans running around living this thing we call life in modern times, you have a narrow view of what “life” means. And your kids fall victim to that too.

By going camping, you change your perspective. This allows your kids to look outside of their small world and see that there is far more out there. From the trees that surround your campsite to the wildlife you see on your hike, and beyond, your kids can see that the world is a big place and they aren’t all that exists.

This is a beautiful lesson they can take with them throughout the rest of their lives – that everything isn’t always about them and that their problems may not be as big as they’ve made them out to be in their small world.

Something as simple as taking a walk when you feel frustrated is a great way to gain perspective on that problem, so teach your kids the same thing, but on an even bigger scale with camping and life.

Dad and son having fun outdoors.

11. Facing Fears

Fear is something that your kids will likely experience while camping. Fear of sleeping in the dark, fear of being away from the comforts of home, fear of wild animals, even the fear that comes after a scary campfire story. However, feeling that fear is a very important thing.

You should reassure your kids that they are safe and that nothing bad is going to happen, but it is important to allow them to feel that fear so that they can work on overcoming it. Because let’s be real: life is full of fears. As an adult, many of the steps you take in life have a lot of fear behind them: going to college, getting a job, dating, and more. Thus, take advantage of your time camping and use it as a way to have your kids face new fears while you are there to protect them so that they feel confident facing fears later in the future when you won’t be there to protect them.

Little boy setting up the tent.

12. Teamwork

Setting up a campsite for a family is not a one-person job. It requires everyone to help out. Someone to pitch the tent, someone to get the fire set up, someone to get the food cooking, and more.

This is a great way to teach your kids the importance of teamwork, and how there are times in life when you need to be a team player and work together with others to reach a common goal (which in this case is a fun camping trip). A lesson like this will come up again and again throughout their entire lives, so getting them on board with it early is a great idea. And being in nature with your kids provides a fun way to do that.

Camping is a fun family activity that gives you a chance to bond with the most important people in your life. However, camping can mean so much more for kids. It provides them with the perfect opportunity to learn some of the most important life lessons.

So, next time you plan a camping trip with your kids, get creative on ways you can teach them some of the above lessons and enrich their lives in ways they never expected from some time out in nature. Plus, you stand to gain a lot as well, as you may need a refresh on some of these lessons for yourself. It’s a win for everyone involved.

Leslie K Hughes

Leslie, a.k.a. Copy Girl, is a copywriter who gets butterflies from telling stories through words.

Her voice comes from a place filled with passion, dreams, and lots of sugar. “Cake over steak” is her go-to motto.

With over 10 years of experience in crafting words, and years of embarking on travels that have taken this Montana girl to some incredible places, Leslie love the adventures of both body and mind her writing takes her on.

Everywhere she goes, she takes this advice with her:

“Hold on to your divine blush, your innate rosy magic, or end up brown.” – Tom Robbins, Jitterbug Perfume

To see what Leslie’s up to in the writing world, visit her website here.

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