The benefits of taking your kids camping

It has now been proven that campers are happier and less stressed than those who don’t go camping. According to a study carried out by the Caravan Industry Association of Australia (CIAA), campers say that camping makes them closer to their partner and kids, more grounded and more in touch with nature as well as feeling healthier.
As a parent who likes to camp, I have to agree. When we are happier and more relaxed, our whole family benefits.
Here are four reasons why you should take your kids camping. Don’t worry, if you have never been camping before or don’t have enough equipment, we have a genius tip for you at the end of this article.
1. You will become closer as a family
The CIAA study found that 93 per cent of campers believe camping brings families closer together. Putting up tents, making food together, collecting wood and cleaning up are all team jobs when you are camping. These little tasks are rarely left to one person when camping and when many hands come together, families can enjoy each other’s company.
When you are away camping, there is less to do than a usual busy weekend of sport, social events, home and garden duties. Free time like this is precious and can encourage more chatting and spontaneous activities like card games or walks. Anna Carmichael from Go Camping Australia website and blog comments that this time together “can make some children learn to get along with each other.“
2. You will be reminded about the joy of nature
Waking up and being outside straight away is extremely rejuvenating. Many of us spend way too much time indoors these days and kids have become less confident about the world around them. A UK study showed that less than 20 per cent of children climb trees these days. We don’t know the figure for Australia, but many will agree that our kids are outside exploring less that we did as kids.
Apart from the fresh air, being outside will encourage kids to be active in ways they may not at home.
“When you get up in the morning and depending on your campsite, there is a world of possibilities. Hiking, canoeing, playing in a creek, collecting firewood, climbing trees, clambering over rocks and playing hide and seek. If you have brought your bikes, riding on dirt and over bumps is so much more fun – all that new territory to explore, says Anna.
“Just remember to have some snacks ready; exercise and fresh air makes kids hungry!”
3. You will be surprised by the simplicity 
“Not many of us probably sit in our backyards at night and look up at the sky with our children – there is always something to do around the house, or something to see on TV. When you are camping, sitting around looking up at the stars is something you can do. Sit with your children, and be amazed at the stars above you, the tranquillity and the clean air. Telling tales around the campfire and seeing children mesmerised by the story (and not their Nintendo DS) is priceless!” says Anna.
A change of scenery itself can be a mood booster for everyone and inspire your family to enjoy the simple things. Find a creek, take your shoes off and paddle, practise skipping stones or have ‘leaf-boat races’. It’s amazing how having less toys and devices around can inspire simple play. We should not underestimate just how much fun a child can have outdoors. Once they are away from the wi-fi, the world can open up to them. Playing in a creek can be one of life’s pure joys and not just for the kids! Join them in building a small dam and watching the water changes paths and see how far that leaf boat can go.
4. You will (all) learn something 
Camping is a great way to teach kids about their environment, animals, bugs, rock formation and any other knowledge you can share. They can also learn some amazing life skills such as meal preparation which they may not engage in at home as well as building fires and setting up camp. Perhaps you or someone in your camp can teach a skill like fishing, chopping wood or orienteering. For some, their biggest lesson might be what to do without screens and wi-fi (that goes for adults too!).
Other lessons can come from the experience of problem solving. We have had many ‘learning opportunities’ while camping like the night we had to come up with make-shift repairs to a broken tent pole. My husband and son came up with a wooden spoon and gaffer tape solution and still laugh about it now. When kids are involved in problem solving, their leadership skills and creative thinking can come out in surprising ways. Embrace that and don’t be too quick to take over.
Camping hack for first time campers
Perhaps you don’t have enough camping gear or have no idea where to start. Don’t let the lack of gear or confidence in how to pitch a tent get in the way of giving you and your family a camping experience. There are a number of websites that now that let you hire a caravan or camping equipment, and many will show you how to use it. Just hop online and search for businesses near you.
Lastly, we would like to acknowledge other families in our regional areas, who have suffered from drought and fires this summer. We suggest taking a camping trip to these regions, and not only have a fun holiday but also support these small towns and regions who are doing it tough. Search #emptyesky for inspiration on how you can support local farms by stocking up homegrown and homemade goodies on your way home. 
Thank you to the family camping experts at www.gocampingaustralia.com. Check out their website for some awesome activities with kids and other camping tips.