The great outdoors offers many distractions and activities that will amuse children. You never know what might catch their imagination from the different shapes of leaves to the animals, birds and bugs. At night shadow puppets, stories and the thrill of sleeping outdoors are often enough to entice children that camping is fun.
If you are camping in a resort, there are often facilities such as a jungle gym and trampoline for them to enjoy. Today children are defiantly more connected and most have a cell phone or games. You can choose to make your holiday technology free, but games and laptops and i-pods can keep children occupied during the journey to your destination and when they get bored in camp. Just remember that at some campsites there is no electricity to get it charged.
If your child is an only child it might be a good idea to invite a good friend along on the trip. Two children can play together and occupy themselves, leaving you free to relax. Older children can often find something to do - perhaps play a game of cricket, with a Frisbee or a game of catch.
Let the children help pitch the tent by fetching pegs and helping to set out sleeping bags. Give them chores to do - smaller children can help fetch twigs for the fire and carry stuff, while older children can help pitch the tent. At mealtimes older children can help with its preparation and cooking and younger children can help by passing out plates and cutlery.
So below are some suggestions of what to do with children while camping. Remember that there will be many natural things that will occupy them and you do not need to plan an excursion or activity for every minute of the day.
1. Go on short nature walks and point out the different shapes of leaves and plants. Let the children stop and look at animal and insect tracks. For smaller children bugs are "cool" and a little scary so take it slow and let them look at the bugs. It's better if they don't pick them up as you may not know if they bite or sting. Point out different birds and animals.
2. Collect interesting leaves, stones, fallen nests, feathers and the like. You can spread out a sheet of newspaper and have a collection table. Note that often you cannot take these items out of a national park or nature reserve.
3. Go for a picnic at a spot away from camp. Choose an outing those appeals to their age. If you are in a game reserve that allows you to go on game drives in your own vehicle then perhaps a short game drive might be a good idea.
4. Make leaf rubbings. This is an easy activity that means you just have to pack some paper and crayons. Collect a variety of leaves, turn them so the veins are up and place a piece of paper over them and let the kids rub away.
5. Take along a game that you all enjoy playing and can play in the tent for those days when it may be raining and you do not want to be out and about.
6. At night the children can perhaps help make pudding after dinner - S'mores - marshmallows roasted over the fire and squashed between two chocolate digestive biscuits equal camping heaven. Yes it is sugary - but for many they are a traditional treat while camping.
7. Pack some books that they will enjoy reading - the novelty of reading by torchlight will be fun. They are also a good standby for those rainy days.Read more tips on Camping with Children in South Africa