Simple tips for minimal-impact camping with kids

July 29, 2015

Getting your kids interested in camping can be difficult, but it's not impossible! Since the best camper leaves no trace, here are some tips to help your whole family have a memorable trip with minimum-impact camping.

Simple tips for minimal-impact camping with kids

Minimum-impact camping tips

Minimum-impact camping means treating the shared public resource of the woods with common sense.

  • The use of stoves rather than fires and being mindful where you pitch the tent are part of an approach that regards natural areas as places to be treasured and cared for.
  • As well as minimizing the traces of campfires, always carry out your waste. Empty tins and plastic containers, aluminium foil, wrappers, even food scraps and vegetable peelings should not be left behind.
  • Kitchen detergent should be avoided if possible; wash dishes and pots with warm water using sand and rough bark as scourers.
  • Creeks and waterholes are fine for swimming but washing is best done as a "bird bath" with just a bit of water. Use biodegradable soap and use it sparingly.

Where there are no toilets, choose a spot away from water sources, tracks and tent sites. Dig yourself a small hole with a plastic trowel carried only for this purpose. If there is no risk of bushfire, burn your toilet paper before covering the hole.

Get the kids involved!

Most children revel in camping. Even young babies may be content to snooze or watch the world go by from the security of a sling or papoose-style baby carrier. Toddlers can be more of a handful. They love rummaging through leaf litter, playing with sticks and stones and chasing lizards.

  • Attentive supervision is needed, especially around stoves and fires or in steep terrain.
  • Encouraging infants to be at ease in unfamiliar surroundings provides a foundation for more ambitious trips. Consider pitching a tent in the backyard as a trial run. For many young children spending a night out "under canvas" is a thrill in itself. Children usually adapt quickly to using tents and sleeping bags.
  • Older, more adventurous children may enjoy the exploratory challenges of creeks, caves and unusual vegetation. In summer, camping near a sandy beach backed by a stand of useful shade trees is always a popular proposition.
  • Such experiences can encourage a spirit of freedom and adventure, and foster a sense of responsibility towards the environment at the same time. Explain to children such things as natural hazards, dangerous or restricted areas and the fragility of the natural environment.

Camping can be a great experience for the whole family. Follow these tips and try minimal-impact camping with your kids.

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