Some people desire to camp. Other people camp because they realize the high price tags of vacations and want to travel another way. Then there is a third group of people that camp for the potential memory-making moments for the kids. I am in the third group. Well, at least I think I used to be in the third group…. I am slowly turning into a member of the second group. (There could also be a fourth group, the full time RVers, sometimes called Roadschooling.)
No matter which camper group you identify with, there are ways to make camping more of a learning adventure… if you keep your eyes open and are willing to let the kids be in charge of a few of the factors.
Where the Learning Begins
The potential of learning while camping can begin before the camping trip begins at all. Have your kids help decide on a realistic destination and locate the camp group (or backwoods plot of ground if you are of the hardcore type campers). Set a budget and let the kids help with a menu and packing list, then recruit them to help with the actual shopping and packing. Ensure that a nature book, trail guide or other helpful books are brought with you, maybe even a nature journal and good coloring tools too.
On the Spot Learning
When you arrive at the spot, put those kid to work. Setting up camp is a fun way to see results fast and (after checking state and campground regulations, of course) collecting fire wood and kindling is a good way to stretch the legs that were cramped from the car ride. Being outside leads to conversations about nature, weather, habitats, listening for animal sounds, identifying animal tracks, conversation and other interesting topics.
Food Prep Lessons
Food preparation and meal times look a little different when camping for the weekend. (You can find countless hacks and ideas on the internet, by the way.) This is a great time to let the kids help out a little more and moments that lead to conversations about the conveniences of things like running water, ovens and stoves, refrigerators and other tools we have in our homes to make food prep easier on a daily basis.
Camping, despite the sore back from sleeping on a rock or tree root, is a lot of fun. We are taken away (hopefully) from our technology and other distractions, get a chance to reconnect with nature and our family, and just slow down a bit. There is nothing like reclining by the campfire after dinner while the kids ride their bikes nearby. We all need a little less-hurry sometimes; camping is a great way to do that – and learn all sorts of things at the same time.
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Lindsay Banton is a caffeinated mother to three great kids. She never expected to homeschool, but has found that it is a wonderful addition to their lifestyle and wouldn’t change it for the world. In addition to homeschooling, Lindsay works alongside her husband in campus ministry at a large university in Connecticut. She grew up in Virginia but has settled into life in New England, learning to love the long winters, cool springs, green summers and gorgeous autumns- and has built a boot collection to meet all the demands. She is currently blogging at www.lindsaybanton.com.