Camping is the ultimate American pastime. We’re willing to bet that family camping trips are among your most cherished memories. Those vacations taught you a lot about yourself, your relatives, and the natural world. They sparked your love for the outdoors and continue to fuel your recreational choices.
Hands down, camping is one of the best things you can do for your family. Besides learning valuable skills, camping teaches you to work as a family towards common goals. Camping gives you space to express yourself and connect with those closest to you. It’s a great way to strengthen bonds and create beautiful memories. Here are ten reasons camping is great for your family.
1. Camping Promotes Quality Time
Spending quality time with family is the third most popular motivation to go camping. That’s because camping is one of the best ways to spend quality time with your family. What do we mean by “quality” time? Quality time means everyone involved gives each other their undivided attention. You can do that by participating in fun and engaging activities that promote direct communication and affection. Camping provides the perfect stage for quality time.
You’re immersed in a distraction-free environment, allowing you to devote yourself to those around you (and vice versa). No work, school, social media, or TV. Just you, your family, and your time in each others’ presence. It’s a great opportunity to learn more about your kids and how you can be the best parent they need.
2. Camping Strengthens Bonds
One of the most profound gifts from camping with your family is bonding. Spending time with your family in a safe, relaxed environment strengthens bonds and reinforces meaningful connections. You’re with them from sunup to sundown, so you enjoy each other within various contexts and circumstances.
You have time to share joy, resolve stressful situations, and demonstrate valuable principles—simple things like cooking your favorite recipes, exploring, sharing, and disagreeing become teachable moments for everyone involved. Who knows, you might learn a few things about each other that will strengthen your bonds even after you’ve left the campground.
3. Camping Bridges Generational Gaps
There’s something special about bringing together multiple generations of a family. Bringing everyone together allows you to learn from each other and grow as a family. Grandparents can stay young and reminisce by spending time with grandchildren. Children and grandchildren gain valuable wisdom from their elders. Camping is the perfect way to connect with family members you might not otherwise see. It’s a relaxing, neutral environment where everyone can come together for shared interests.
Grandparents and parents can rest easy in their comfortable RVs while younger relatives enjoy the rugged escape of a canvas tent. And in the morning, you gather in front of the cozy fire and do it all over again.
4. Camping Creates Memories
Many campers say that some of their best memories are camping (with family, friends, or summer camp). Maybe you feel that way yourself. You probably remember the first time you ate s’mores or went fishing with your dad. You might even remember funny mishaps or learning experiences. Camping births unforgettable memories that last a lifetime. Since camping with family promotes quality time, you remember more from each trip.
Research has shown that people have an easier time remembering emotionally-charged events. That’s especially true with positive events, like camping. Your camping memories will be easier to retrieve and remain vivid for a long time. You and your family can relive and cherish your shared experiences for years to come, prolonging those special bonds.
5. Camping Resolves Conflicts
Family conflicts are impossible to avoid. Even in the best of times, families experience friction or disagreement. But there are tools at your disposal to solve those conflicts, and camping is one of them. Research has shown that camping can resolve or improve family conflicts.
Spending quality time with family helps renew your appreciation for each other. Camping provides a safe space to discuss issues and conflict resolution strategies. If conflicts arise during your trip, you have more time and attention to solve them with care. You can utilize the campfire as a common place to air grievances, listen with patience, and come to mutual agreements.
6. Camping Fosters Curiosity and Awe
Research shows curiosity and awe are critical to stress reduction and life satisfaction. Camping provides fertile ground for fostering both. Kids experience curiosity and awe by exploring new environments, learning about ecosystems, and viewing otherwise out-of-reach wildlife. You know what we mean if you’ve seen a child explore their first tide pool or take in the stars. Kids are vessels of curiosity, and everyone in the family can enjoy watching them learn, experience, and appreciate the natural world.
It’s also an excellent opportunity for kids to see their parents in a new light. Adults often feel reverence for the awesome grandiosity of nature. Kids need to see their parents in a state of relaxed joy and curiosity, as it sets a positive model for their own growth.
7. Camping Keeps Everyone Active
Being physically active offers many benefits beyond physiological health. Research has shown that physical activity improves mental health, relationships, happiness, brain health, and self-confidence. If there exists a “fountain of youth” or “magic bullet” for life, physical activity is it. Camping provides ample opportunities for everyone in the family to be active. You can get exercise by walking, hiking, biking, or swimming. You can also play lawn games, plan scavenger hunts, and gather firewood.
There are endless possibilities for the whole family to be active. Studies also show that physical activity increases the flow of oxytocin, a neurotransmitter that promotes bonding and closeness. So being active together helps cement the bonds you build when recreating together. By engaging in fun activities, kids are more likely to continue being active after returning home, further extending the benefits of physical activity.
8. Camping Teaches New Skills
Camping offers many learning opportunities. There’s a unique joy in teaching your kids the same skills you learned as a youngster. You’re in a great place to teach them valuable life skills like first aid, packing for camping, survival, cooking, and cleaning. You can also teach camping-specific skills like setting up a tent, making fire, tracking wildlife, recognizing plants, orienteering, and tying knots.
Camping allows you to share valuable skills in a relaxed, fun environment. You can impart helpful knowledge while they look up to you as a teacher and provider. Teaching kids new skills helps builds confidence, independence, and self-esteem, qualities that will benefit them throughout their lives.
9. Camping Encourages Cooperation
Cooperation is a foundational principle for a good life, and camping sets the stage for cooperation. There are many opportunities to learn and hone cooperativeness. You can set goals and guidelines for kids (and adults) to manage tasks together. Work in tandem to pitch the tent, set up camp, cook meals, ready the fire, and manage the campsite. Cooperation helps build healthy relationships between family members, cementing gratitude for years to come.
When kids see their siblings as allies, they appreciate them and are likelier to stay close as adults. You can also plan fun cooperative activities like geocaching, non-competitive games, art projects, and group sports.
10. Camping Lowers Stress
Let’s face it; life is stressful. Juggling tasks, adapting to change, and facing challenges can create a lot of stress and anxiety in your life. And you might not always have the proper tools to soothe that stress. The good news is camping is an excellent salve for stress and mental health. And this is true for both adults and children. Being surrounded by nature has a lasting effect on your happiness, health, cognitive abilities, and social skills. In fact, many doctors prescribe nature walks to improve mental and physical health.
Getting away from daily stressors and immersing yourself in nature positively affects your well-being. There’s nothing like a nature break to calm the nerves, offer perspective, and renew your energy. And spending that time with loved ones is even better. Shared experiences improve happiness and mental health, and camping is the perfect way to foster those shared experiences.
8 Ways to Make the Most of Your Family Camping Trip
- Leave electronics at home. Limit exposure to technology while you’re camping. Avoid email and texts, social media, videos, and annoying notifications. If you feel up to it, leave your electronics at home. Or, as a compromise, turn them off and keep them locked in the car, out of reach. If you want to use your phone to take family photos, turn it on “airplane mode” to avoid distractions. The less time you spend on your phone, the more time you have to connect with those you love the most.
- Play cooperative games. Invent or play games that involve everyone in the family. Physical games like cornhole, tag or capture the flag can be fun. If the weather turns sour, you can gather everyone in the large canvas tent and play board games or card games. If some of your family members are over-competitive, try planning cooperative games like scavenger hunts or relay races.
- Engage in outdoor recreation. Spending time in the outdoors comes with its own benefits. But you can make the most of your time by participating in outdoor activities everyone loves. That could be anything from hiking, exploring the campground, fishing, cycling, or viewing wildlife (from a distance). Most outdoor activities encourage cooperation, quality time, and learning in a novel or exciting environment.
- Encourage kids to explore. Camping is a natural ground spring for curiosity. Kids love being in an unfamiliar environment with new stimuli. You can help foster curiosity by encouraging exploration and questions. Guide them to new experiences where they can piece together the beauty of nature and what it means for everyone in the family.
- Lean into teachable moments. Spending time outside presents many learning opportunities. Use the time to teach your loved ones about sustainability, cooperation, creative problem-solving, wildlife preservation, and life skills. If you pay close attention, you’ll encounter many teachable moments while camping. Take advantage of those moments to instill valuable lessons.
- Engage in physical activity. Plan fun recreational activities that get the family moving. The more active you are, the better you’ll feel. Kids need physical activity just as much as adults, if not more. Try to engage in activities that everyone’s interested in to promote positive associations between play and exercise. Check-in with your family periodically to ensure they enjoy themselves and feel good.
- Plan a variety of activities. Chances are, everyone in your family has slightly different interests. The best way to enjoy a family vacation is to ensure everyone has something to look forward to. Avoid forcing relatives to engage in activities that bore or upset them. To maximize bonding and skill-building, engage in varied activities that please the most people possible. Ask everyone what they want to do, and include those activities in the itinerary. It’s good to have a mix of things that promote different moods. One day might be relaxing, while the next is adventurous. Or enjoy physical activities during the day while relaxing through the evening.
- Express gratitude. The joy of camping is something shared between all of your loved ones. Take the time to appreciate those around you. Tell and show them how grateful you are to be spending time with them. Gratitude isn’t just for holidays. Create camping traditions that allow everyone to acknowledge each other. Gather around the campfire and take turns making proclamations. You can talk about the things that make you feel grateful or discuss your favorite parts of the day you spent together. There are many ways to communicate gratitude; take advantage of the moment to build meaningful connections with your family.