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Kids at camp eating watermelon
Outdoor Getaways

35 Clever Camping Hacks with Kids

Do you like camping with your children? These 35 camping hacks with kids are guaranteed to make your next camping adventure more enjoyable. 

Have you been planning your summer vacation? What about a camping trip? Why don’t you mix the two and embark upon a camping trip with the kids? A camping trip with your child can provide an opportunity to spend quality time together and strengthen your bond.

But this kind of trip needs preparation and planning. To help you have stress-free camping trips, here are 35 clever camping hacks with kids.

 35 Clever Camping Hacks with Kids

Here are a few camping hacks with kids you will enjoy

A family in a tent on the ground

Make It A Family Affair

Get your family ready for an exciting “getaway” by talking about the places you’ll be going to and the things you’ll be doing together. Let everyone have input into what activities you will do once you get there, and encourage them to pack their things (clothes, toys, games).

Plan Activities Beforehand

Plan activities before and after your camping trip to get your kids excited about going! Do a little research about where you’ll be staying to find out what to do in the area, such as museums, theme parks, or other attractions. Then choose one or two activities that fit into your budget and schedule. 

 Arrive Before Dark

Make sure you get there before it gets dark. Nothing is more frustrating than trying to set up camp in the dark, especially while having to look after the kids or if you arrive close to bedtime.

Remove Large Objects From Your Site

When you are choosing a campsite, first remove any large obstructions like rocks or depressions in the ground. A good campsite should have level footing and be free of any obstacles that could trip you up. Next, seek out some shade. This will help keep your gear dry and cool.

Set Up Hand & Foot Washing Stations

Kids love water, but they need to keep their hands clean. A basin with soapy water can be a great way to get them to wash up before snacks or meals. You can also designate a foot-washing station if you’re at a beach or lake.

Pack All the Necessities

Ensure everyone has what they need for the trip (food, clothing, bedding, and toiletries). When traveling with the whole family you want to be prepared to meet everyone’s needs and compiling a checklist before you leave for your trip may be the best way to do that.


Kids eating marshmallows.

Marshmallows Are A Must

Don’t forget to bring marshmallow roasting sticks. These extendable roasting forks are perfect for keeping little hands at a safe distance from the fire while cooking over it.

First Aid Kits

Campsite safety should be your top priority, especially when it’s a trip that includes your kids. Remember to bring a first aid kit and if you are away from home, consider bringing any medications that you or your kids might need while you’re on the trip.

Kids camping on the beach.

Pick A Safe and Friendly Spot

Pick a kid-friendly campground. Look at reviews and pictures before booking your campsite to see if it will work well with your family. You may want to start at a campground closer to home until your kids are more comfortable camping. You can also look into family-friendly campgrounds that offer playgrounds and pools.

A Laundry Basket Will Help Keep Things Tidy

Bring along a small laundry basket. It’s the perfect vessel for carrying water shoes and wet swimsuits as you walk from camp to the lake.

 Don’t Forget to Pack A Mat

If you want to avoid getting stuck in the sand or mud, bring a cheap yoga mat along on your next camping trip—you can use it under your tent or as a ground cover to keep you dry when you sleep outside.

 Extra Clothes Are Essential

Any parent knows that outdoor activities with kids can get pretty messy. Pack extra clothes in Ziploc bags so they stay dry and organized in your bag or tent if it rains at night.

Two young girls roasting food over a camp fire.

Accessories to Help Start A Fire

Dryer lint is great for starting a fire, so save it in an old plastic container and store it inside your car for emergencies. Birchbark also makes for excellent kindling and finding some bark while on a hike can make for an educational activity. Just be sure to go over Smokey the Bear’s fire safety rules.

 Pack More Accessories

An organization always makes a camping trip more enjoyable. Consider bringing small things that will make your life easier around the home that could also make things easier on the campsite. For example, use bread ties to hang cup handles from the side of your cooler so drinks don’t tip over when you open the lid.

 Extra Plastic Bottles

Find creative ways to reuse containers. For example, you could use empty sunscreen bottles as soap holders in your bathroom kit to avoid leaking all over everything else in your bag.

Pack Glow Sticks

Pack glow sticks instead of flashlights for nighttime trips to the bathroom or for playing night around camp after dark. They will save you from having to bring batteries and the kids will love them.

Toys For Fun Activities

Pack a toy box full of activities to keep the kids busy while camping. This will help you prepare meals and conduct other camp maintenance while keeping the kids close by and busy.

Kids playing with a blanket outside.

Portable Charger

Consider bringing a portable charger so that you can keep your phone and other essential devices around the campsite charged.

Bring More Bottles to Store Important Items

Camping can sometimes get unexpectedly wet or dirty. Be sure to bring some extra containers, bottles, or bags to store electronics and other items you want to keep dry. For example, you could keep your matches dry in an empty prescription bottle.

Waterproof Pouch Can Help

Buy a waterproof pouch for carrying cell phones and other electronics while you’re out on the water or in case of unexpected rain.

Meals Should Be Simple

Keep meals simple and easy to prepare over the campfire when you have little kids in tow. Cutting down on the time it takes to prepare meals and reducing the amount of cookware you need to bring will allow you to spend more time enjoying the campsite with your family.

Bring Some Ice Packs

You can purchase ice packs to keep your food cool or save space by freezing water bottles to use as ice packs for food in your cooler, and then drink them as they melt on hot days.

Prevent Bug Bites

When it comes to camping, bugs are everywhere. One of the best ways to prevent bug bites is using a bug repellant. This is one of the most important camping hacks for kids because it will keep your kids from getting bitten by all kinds of bugs, including mosquitoes, ticks, and spiders. Use bug repellent when you are outside and keep some in your tent or camper to use at night when you are sleeping.

Three kids in a tent looking out. 

Wipes and Paper Towels

Another great way to save space and repurpose some camp essentials is to clean dishes with baby wipes instead of bringing extra paper towels or sponges with you on your trip.

Shower Caps Also Come in Handy

While we’re thinking of more innovative ways to use everyday items on the campground consider bringing along some plastic shower caps from home to keep sand off your feet.

Pack Some Rope

A rope can always come in handy for a variety of reasons. To keep the tent door from flapping around in windy conditions, tie a rope between two trees, then use clothespins to attach the rope to the door zipper.

Two kids with headlamps camping.

Headlamps For Extra Light

If you don’t like carrying around a flashlight consider bringing a headlamp to keep your hands free. Alternatively, you can put a headlamp around a jug of water for an instant lantern for your campsite.

Board Games

While you probably won’t be short on any outdoor activities like hiking or swimming, bringing board games or cards is a perfect way to spend some downtime on the campsite.

Consider Getting Some Solar Powered Lights

One of the best ways to light up your tent at night is with solar-powered lights. These lights don’t require batteries or electricity, so they’re easy to pack and use. Just put them in the sun during the day and watch them light up when it gets dark.

Improvise With a PVC Pipe

Make a PVC pipe fishing pole holder by adding rope and hooks on each end of the pipe, then mount it on your car or truck while driving to the campsite. 

Cheap Rain Poncho

A few trash bags can be fashioned into cheap ponchos for the kids – just cut out arm holes with scissors.

Flashlight Fun

Cut out shapes from colored paper that fit your flashlight beam and secure them inside the flashlight with tape to make fun patterns on walls or tents! You can also use glow-in-the-dark stickers or pipe cleaners inside the flashlights for some extra fun!

Pack Some Paint

Biodegradable paints can be a great way to keep the kids busy into the night. You can paint rocks with glow-in-the-dark paint to create luminaries at night.

Kids playing with water guns outside. 

Get Creative

Make up your games around the fire. Play a game of eye spy, hopscotch or decorate an old tire with chalkboard paint for a fun coloring surface for kids that is easy to clean.

Snack Bags

Carrying all the food in a single container can be cumbersome. It can also be an organizational mess, especially when you’re looking for something specific. Put together a snack bag for each child to grab their snacks when they get hungry. 

Final Thoughts

The beauty of camping, especially with kids, is reconnecting with nature and basic human connection. It brings us closer to our children because we are doing something together. It can help them gain a treasure chest full of memories that they can embrace at any time in their life. Through these creative camping hacks with kids’ activities, you and your family will have new things to talk about while building upon the old adventures you had.