6 Ways to Get Tech Addicted Kids Camping
Nowadays, in a world abuzz with iPhones, video games, and Instagram, it can be difficult to truly unplug and detach—and not just for adults! Especially as technology is integrated more and more into schooling, and kids are increasingly surrounded by advertisements and social media, it can be a challenge to foster healthy relationships with technology. And this is where camping can come in! As with so many outdoorsy activities, there are myriad mental and physical health benefits to camping, one of which is breaking away from technology. The only tricky part? Getting tech-addicted kids to go camping to begin with! Here are 6 ways to make that happen.
1. Bring Board Games
One of the biggest hurdles to breaking that technology crutch has to do with gaming. For many kids with access to smartphones or gaming condoles, video games are the biggest allure—and the biggest distraction. Instead of outright banning gaming for the camping trip, fill the void with something more engaging and social, like group-friendly board games! Considering the endless variety of options to suit all ages, preferences, and difficulty levels, there’s guaranteed to be something for everyone, no matter how obsessed they are with video games. This way, you’ll be able to scratch that same challenging itch for them, while doing something together as a family.
2. Let Them Help Pack
The more involved they feel in the process, the more likely they are to feel inclined to participate. Think about it: as a kid, if you were corralled into a van for a weekend camping trip without having any say or input, you might not be too thrilled. But if your parents let you pre-plan and pick out gear, pack some games and activity items, and even map out some fireside meals, they’re bound to feel much more enthused. It could even come down to something as simple as letting them pick out their own sleeping bag, or a pillow case with a fun pattern, or depending on age, even a stuffed Smokey Bear!
3. Invite Friends and Family
For a lot of kids, a huge deterrent from family time detached from technology is feeling like they’re missing out on socializing with friends. After all, it’s that crucial age range where constant contact with friends is seemingly the most important thing in the world, so it can be tough to pry them away from that. So maybe you don’t have to? Inviting a friend or two along, or even a cousin of comparable age, can do wonders. Knowing they won’t be alone in their technology sacrifices for the trip will help your kids relax a little and feel comfort in knowing they’ll be able to keep familiar company. Added bonus: it’s an opportunity to engrain positive early memories associated with healthy outdoor activities, rather than activities relating to at-home technology and online gaming.
4. Cook Together
Unsurprisingly, the more engaging and dynamic you make the camping experience, the more likely your kids are to show interest. After letting them help pack, another way to keep their attention and make them feel valued is to cook together as a family. S’mores are well and good, but try something a little more intensive, and give them roles that provide a sense of pride and accomplishment. This could mean something as simple as stirring pasta sauce or dressing a salad, or depending on how ambitious you wanna get, making pancake batter from scratch and letting them customize their syrups and toppings for family breakfast.
5. Nighttime Activities
While outside, think of the ways that you can highlight the main differences between camping and staying at home. One easy idea is to do activities at night, a time when most families are winding down at home and kids are resigned to either catching up on homework or feverishly checking their Facebook. While camping, though, you can keep the fun going by stargazing, embarking on night hikes (with headlamps!), sharing ghost stories by the fire, and listening for hooting owls. This will show them that there are so many fun, unique things to do outdoors that simply can’t be replicated at home.
6. Let Them “Rough It”
Another fun way to differentiate from home life is to fully embrace the outdoors life. And that means getting a little muddy. At home, of course, the idea of recklessly and purposely getting dirty is taboo, but while out camping, it’s fun to lower your collective guard and celebrate the great outdoors in all its natural (and dirty) beauty. Go splash around in a creek, scamper through sand dunes, make mud pies, and climb trees; connect with the environment in every sensory way possible, and show just how fun it is to put the iPhones and iPads down for a few days.
Born and raised in New Hampshire, Matt Kirouac grew up with a love for camping and the outdoors. Though he’s lived in Chicago since 2006, he’s always on the lookout for new adventures. He writes about travel and food for outlets like TripExpert, Money Inc, Upventur, DiningOut, Food Fanatics magazine, Plate Magazine and Zagat, and he currently serves as Chicago editor for What Should We Do?! He’s the author of The Hunt Guides: Chicago (2016) and Unique Eats & Eateries of Chicago (2017).