While hitting the road for camping and RVing is a great way to get your kids outside to enjoy nature, you can take this a step further by adding a learning component to your trips. Being able to enjoy nature is something that your children should value, which should be seen as a privilege, not a right. Here are ten ways to make camping and RV trips fun for kids while at the same time respecting the environment.
1) Teach On The Trail
If you can fill your hiking trips with teachable moments, kids can soak in nature and learn about the environment at the same time. If you can study up on nature conservation beforehand, your little ones will be amazed with your knowledge-base. Discuss trail construction in general – whether you are walking on mulch, dirt, wooden pallets, or a combination – and the ways trails are designed to protect the nature around them. Discussing responsible techniques for picking up trash, leaving nature the way you found it, and how to avoid adding to erosion can make hikes much for beneficial for kids.
2) Activities That Foster Learning
If you can make learning about conservation and learning more interactive, your children will appreciate this more. While teaching kids along the way is great, there are plenty of nature-based games that can get kids excited about upcoming camping trips and will gear them up to be respectful of the outdoors as well. Visitor centers within parks and campgrounds often have exhibits and activities that are fun for kids and can teach them about the area as well.
3) RVs Can Be Green Too
RV travel is something that is trending in a green direction as well. If you can stop the stigma of older, gas-guzzling RVs, you can show your kids the new future of RVing. This can be a simple as taking shorter trips to limit your carbon footprint, to properly disposing of waste from your vehicle. Fuel efficiency and compact RV models are starting to hit the market, so take advantage of this trend and be a good role model for your kids.
4) Pack In and Pack Out
If you will be doing some of your trip in remote locations or in tent camping, packing in your needs and packing out your trash is a must. By practicing clean, environmentally-friendly camping techniques, your children will learn from an early age how to leave no trace and how to properly clean up campsites. You can even take this a step further by picking up after others if you come upon less-than-pristine abandoned campsites.
5) Look, Don’t Touch
While there might be some wonderful pieces of nature your child would like to keep, make sure they understand the big picture when it comes to taking things from outdoor trips. Whether this is flowers, rocks, shells, or pieces of wood, these should be enjoyed in the moment and can even be photographed. Remind them that if everyone took a piece of nature with them, there wouldn’t be anything left for others to enjoy for years to come.
6) Respecting Animals
While squirrels and other animals might be very cute and friendly at the campground, be sure to spend some time explaining to your kids the difference between wild animals and pets. Children should know not to feed local inhabitants, no matter how much wild animals beg. Explain that this can be bad for their diet, lead to bad habits, and can over time make it harder for smaller animals to sustain their life on their own without the help of humans.
7) Possible Service-Related Trips
While camping with just your family can be rewarding and fun on it’s own, if you can tie in helping with the environment on a larger scale, this can be a teaching experience your children will take with them. Look out for ‘clean up the beach’ weekends or other community-based clean ups that help the local community or place you love to visit.
8) Visiting National Parks
National Parks are a treasure that we are lucky to have here in the US, and you can instill wonder in your children by visiting these parks in their childhood. There are plenty of learning opportunities along the way, and learning about protected land and its importance will help kids see what can be done over time to protect spaces that are naturally beautiful.
9) Leave No Trace
There are some beautiful places to visit in the US these days, but unfortunately, many are slowly disappearing due to erosion or drought. If you can pick camping and travel sites that are durable and can withstand the damage that camping might cause, you won’t be a part of the problem. This includes beaches and bluffs with erosion, areas of the US where plants and animals might be dropping in numbers, or ecosystems that are delicate. If you must visit areas that are feeling an impact, plan a day trip to lessen your impact overall.
10) Minimize The Impact of Campfires
Campfires are a traditional part of camping, but this mindset is slowly changing as pollution, fire risks, and shortage in certain types of wood can all impact the area you live and camp in. Be sure to have campfires when you need them for cooking, but not just to look at for nostalgia. Understand the times of year fires are allowed. If you are unsure on the local laws when it comes to campfires, check in with the park you are staying in or county if this is more remote to make sure you are in compliance.