It’d not easy taking kids camping and looking back when my kids were little, and we would go camping, it almost seems overwhelming. The burden of all the responsibility was put on myself and my husband. I would take on the responsibility of planning and packing; The food, gear , clothes, toys, everything would be ready to go, stacked in piles in the living room, for when my husband would get home. My husband would then take over packing the car (not always welcoming my help) after getting home from a long day of work, so we would be ready to leave first thing in the morning. Once to the camp site we would try to coördinate set up and the kids but unfortunately my husband got stuck with the burden of set up more often than not.
Our family unit really needed some help! So we started small. We started by giving the kids the responsibility of picking out their own clothes and toys to bring with them. If they don’t match, it’s o.k. they did it and were happy. Helping carry things like pillows and sleeping bags to the car was a big help and lessened the trips we had to make. At the camp site, bringing in to the tent those pillows and sleeping bags or collecting twigs and pine cones for the fire, were all things that took some burden off my husband and I not to mentioned levied some of my time so I could help my husband with bigger things.
We never really put a time on when they were expected to help do something. We started asking for help and if they could do it, great, if not we moved on. Other things we started to expect; I no longer check after them. If they forget it, it’s forgot. If ya gotta swim in a t-shirt and shorts ya got no one to blame but you. My youngest was doing things like blowing up air mattress and setting up camp chairs while the boys would stack firewood and productively help unload the van. They knew where things belonged and for the most part got it right. The best thing was they were doing it not because we asked them to, but because it just had to be done. Camp set up was moving fast along which meant getting to the fun sooner.
It’s almost exhausting to look back at all the gear and toy and stuff we packed to bring camping. The toys have become more poignant like a Jon boat and fishing pole, a sling shot and a bicycle. The gear has lessened as well. My boys are content to sleep in hammocks while my daughter and pup share a two person tent or bunk with my husband and I. We no longer have to ask for help with set up. Each kid just does what has to be done. If wood need to be chopped, wood gets chopped. Tents go up the van get unloaded and thing just get done. My husband is now the director instead of the directed. My biggest worry has now become do I have enough food for three teens.
I love going camping with my family. It is no long a chore but an adventure. The best thing we ever did was to expect that our kids help with the camp chores. This not only made our trips less stressful but instilled self-reliance, responsibility and initiative in our kids. Camping grew us as a family because our kids learned the same time we learned because we included them.
What camp chores are your kids responsible for?