If recent past events taught us anything, it’s that the people in our lives are our greatest treasure. Spending time with those we love and experiencing the world with them is what life is all about.

More and more families are hitting the road with kids in tow, and camping is the ideal activity for building and enriching family bonds. Here’s how:

  1. You’re more present. In everyday life, we are going in many different directions, doing lots of different things, and sometimes the most attention we pay the kids is when we’re getting them ready for bed. No to mention all the activities the kids are involved in day-in and day-out. Camping slows everything down and reorganizes your priorities, in a good way. Even though you still do the same chores, you don’t have as much space or as much stuff, so you have less to clean up and manage. Also, if you’re camping, you’re probably on vacation and don’t have to worry about work responsibilities as much. All of this means you are more free to be more present to your children. Listen to them as they share their thoughts, be involved in what they are doing (such as a game), and truly spend time with them. This will deepen the bond you share.
  2. You’re a better teacher. When you’re in a spot away from home, away from the mundane normalcy, you shed some of your mental load, which frees your mind to focus on other things, such as teaching your kids. Whether it’s sharing information about birds and wildlife or history along a trail, showing them how to use a hatchet, or instructing them on the nuances of Euchre, you are redirecting a lot of your mental capacity to your kids’ education. Kids are typically more receptive in this new environment as well, especially when it’s hands-on or only something they get to do or see while camping.
  3. You’re sharing experiences. New experiences deepen bonds between people because of going through them together. If you take the kids to the sand dunes and go a dune buggy ride, and it’s the first time for everyone, you will all share similar feelings and thrills as you go through the ride. If you visit a new trail or overlook, you’ll encounter new views and vistas together. Take a picture next to that new-found waterfall, celebrate reaching that overlook, breath in the fresh air while sitting on a pristine beach on a Great Lakes coastline, watch the fireflies dance on a June night. These will be lifelong memories you and the kids can look back on.
  4. You develop common interests. Spending time together, you and the kids get to develop and share common interests. If you’ve always enjoyed fishing, then teach the kids how to fish. Maybe your child has an interest in something you’ve never been highly interested in – perhaps they love insects or really like to swim. So, you spend some time doing that and learn yourself how to love insects or spending more time in the water. As the children grow, you have these common interests to connect you and share.
  5. You belong. That is the message you are sending to your kids when you spend time with them, teach them, share experiences with them. You let them know with all of these actions that they are important, that they belong to this family and to all the people in it. In the wide world, they will have struggles and insecurities, but their family and camping are safe havens for them to return to.

You don’t need to go far from home to enjoy a camping trip with your kids, and the benefits of doing so far outweigh any stress or inconvenience. Make the effort to spend time with your kids, develop common interests, and deepen the bonds you share. This will have a lasting impact on everybody. Camping is so much more than “just camping.”