NEBRASKAland June 2016

NEBRASKAland Magazine is dedicated to outstanding photography and informative writing with an engaging mix of articles and photos highlighting Nebraska’s outdoor activities, parklands, wildlife, history and people.

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70 NEBRASKAland • JUNE 2016 Out and About C amping with children is one of the true joys in family life. I remember when our kids were little and all the fun we had camping; it brought us all closer but it always took some pre-planning to make it safe and fun. Keeping youngsters from having the camping jitters is sometimes an issue, especially for tent campers. Tent camping can be a ton of fun until night rolls around and different noises start happening. To get kids familiar with camping do some pre-camping right at home in your backyard. The kids will learn what will be happening at camp, and you can make sure you have all the equipment you need before your first trek into the wilderness. Practice cooking outdoors with your child. Set up the tent and let your child spend the night in his/her sleeping bag to get used to it. Make hot chocolate or s'mores outside. Get a pair of binoculars and look at the moon, stars and birds with your child. Share camping etiquette with your child. Helping your child become comfortable with camping activities is almost as fun as camping itself; we had many backyard campouts with our kids. Camping Safety Getting your children involved with camping activities teaches them the importance of safety at the campsite. If you have toddlers or young children, have them mark tent stakes and lines with small, inexpensive solar lights so they will remember to stay clear of them. Make sure they understand the dangers of fire, and don't leave the campfire unattended with children around. Get each child a flashlight and attach a whistle around the flashlight handle. They can keep the light with them in case they become frightened or disoriented, and if lost, they can blow the whistle. Make sure your children know where the campsite is and keep a close eye on youngsters so they don't wander off. Children should understand the dangers and the joys of camping. Let them help with setup and chores around the camp to make them more responsible campers. Play Tents Bring two tents when camping with children. The smaller tent can hold toys, provide shade, and give children an area to play safely. Your larger tent is used for sleeping and storing sleeping bags, clothing, and all the other paraphernalia of camping. This will give kids their own get-a-way and will keep them occupied. Activities for Children Never be bored when camping and don't fret rainy days – there are many ways to keep kids busy after they're tired of swimming or fishing. Pack a plastic tote full of craft supplies for those drab days. Sand Drawings Bring some heavyweight construction paper and white glue from home. Help the kids gather some sand or lightweight soil from around the campground. Let them draw pictures on the paper with the glue. While the glue is still wet, pour the sand over the glue and allow it to dry. Rock Crafts Allow kids to look for rocks during your hikes and around your campsite. When they find rocks that they would like to use, wash them off and dry them thoroughly, and then let the kids glue them together with white glue making shapes and creatures. When you get home, you can coat them with a layer of clear varnish to help preserve them. Both of these activities for kids will keep them busy for a while, and give them something to remind them of their camping trip. Scavenger Hunt Have a scavenger hunt by looking for these items or make up your own list: • Perfect skipping rocks • Straight walking stick • A flower in perfect condition • A perfectly round stone • A piece of litter (this also teaches camping ethics) • Picture of a big fish you caught • A photo of wildlife • Proof of visiting with another camper; again, use your camera Games and Other Fun Be sure to bring along some games from home to play during down times. Games seem more enjoyable outdoors, and if you play by lantern or fire light, it seems even more fun. Bring some toys too, such as balls and bats, or badminton for quick games in the afternoon. Some campgrounds will offer activities for children and families; it is always good to ask when looking for places to camp. If you are camping elsewhere, games and toys are a great alternative to boredom and inactivity. Camping can bring a lifetime of enjoyment to young and old alike. Passing down the love of the outdoors from parents to children is a way to give them a lifelong love of camping. ■ Tips for introducing camping to your children. By Julie Geiser Camping With Kids PHOTO BY JULIE GEISER

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