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Plan a Camping Trip With Grandkids

Plan a Camping Trip With Grandkids

| May 17, 2024

Plan a Camping Trip With Grandkids

One of the great joys of being a grandparent is sharing your passions with your grandchildren. If yours are old enough and mature enough to spend a few days away from their parents, this might be the summer to start a new camping tradition that spreads your love of the outdoors and introduces children to experiences that might not be a part of their everyday routines. This four-point checklist will help you to plan ahead for a safe, fun adventure that will create lasting memories. 

1. Make planning part of the fun.

Kids' favorite ideas are often their own -- especially older kids who might be skeptical about their first trip to the Great Outdoors. Let them design as much of your camping experience as is practical: meals, activities, day trips away from your site. Also block off a couple hours every day for unstructured down time so kids can nap, read, journal, or just take a long (supervised) walk in the woods. If the grandkids feel like they have some ownership over the trip, you'll have an easier time convincing them to leave their phones at home and pack a camera, fishing rod, and sketchbook.

Once you have plans in place, run over the itinerary and your packing list with their parents. Make sure you cover any special needs, including medications, allergies, sensory sensitivities, and dietary restrictions. Listen to your adult children's suggestions about things your grandkids might enjoy doing and things that might make the trip more frustrating for everyone.

2. Choose an age-appropriate destination.

The full "tent in the woods" experience might be too much for younger kids on their first camping trip, or even older kids who think “roughing it” is a rainy soccer practice. You're not as young as you used to be either. Keeping the kids entertained -- and safe -- might be stressful enough without having to worry about firewood and bad weather. A commercial campsite with some modest amenities (like playgrounds and bathrooms) and easy parking might be a nice way to introduce everyone to the outdoors without sacrificing too many creature comforts. The more fun everyone has, the more willing you all might be to block off another weekend to delve a little deeper into nature and wander a little further off the beaten path.

3. Establish responsibilities.

Camping is hard work. Your grandkids should do their share. Younger kids can help with simple things like picking up their clothes and toys and throwing away their garbage. Older kids can help gather firewood, prepare meals, and babysit their younger siblings. Encourage your grandkids to communicate with each other and tackle tasks their way -- as long as things get done. Fostering a spirit of teamwork and shared responsibilities will help to keep everyone busy and save you some extra wear and tear. 

4. Plan for and embrace the unexpected.

Even a relatively controlled outdoor environment will be less predictable than an afternoon at the movies. Bad weather might limit your recreational options, or even force you to pack up camp. Your grandkids might get bored fishing and want to spend more time exploring hiking trails. If your campfire meals come out half baked, you might have to take some extra trips to the nearest small-town café.

Have a back-up plan in case a thunderstorm swoops in unexpectedly. But don’t make your grandkids feel bad if they don’t take to every camping activity. Spend more time doing what makes everyone happy, even if it wasn’t on your initial itinerary. Who knows? That café might have incredible pie you’ll want to come back for year after year. And your next camping trip might be more successful if you schedule more time for hiking and less time for catching dinner.

Your Life-Centered Financial Plan can also help you adjust to all the unexpected challenges and opportunities you’ll face in retirement. Let’s add that camping trip to your $Lifeline and discuss what other adventures you’re hoping to take this summer.

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