Camping with teenagers: 10 tips for bringing older kids on a camping holiday

Camping with your teenagers can be either a fantastic experience or one that you might not be quite convince and fully on board with even trying. If you’re tempted to give camping a go but you’re not sure if your teens will enjoy it then these tips will hopefully help you feel more confident to give it a shot!

We camped a lot with our kids as teens although we did it more often in a camper van than a tent. Campsites were still a bit of a different holiday for them though so it took some time to get it right and have a great time.

Camping with teens can definitely be a winner of a holiday, especially if you’re looking to stay close to home and holiday in the UK.

Our tips for successful camping with teenagers

Decide on electric hook up

First thing to decide on when camping with kids, but especially teenagers, is whether you’ll have access to electric. You can get campsites where each pitch has electric hook up and even tents can take advantage of that by getting a special hook up lead.

Phones don’t need a huge amount of electric but if you use them constantly they will need charged for the next day. If you decide to forego electric then make sure that your kids are on board with that and have ideas for occupying themselves. Remember to take into account what your plans will be day to day and think about if there will be any rainy days.

You don’t need to specifically have electric hook up, a solar charging set up might be enough for some limited screen time but remember that adults often have things they want charged too!

Get them helping to set up camp

Teens often enjoy being a part of the set up and making the place a home for a week or two. Giving them an area that is there’s to be responsible for setting up might be a good way to encourage them – perhaps they can set up the kitchen area or the bedrooms once the tent is up.

Obviously you know your kids – if you think this won’t make them happy then don’t push it. Perhaps ask them if they want to help and if they say yes then you can get them to choose an area to be in charge of.

Separate bedroom areas

When you are camping with little kids you might appreciate you all being together so you can keep an eye on each other and be there when they need you. It’s probably the opposite when you’re camping with teenagers – they’ll want their own space and really won’t appreciate having to share a space with adults or even siblings.

If you can, when choosing a tent, try and get one with separate bedroom areas so that you can offer some privacy for your teens and a place for them to go and chill on their own when they need it.

Make a campfire

Making campfires are a great way to build teamwork into a family holiday and most teens are responsible enough to join in.

The skill in not only building a fire but starting it and keeping it going is one that’s not easy! A survival kit might be worth putting together for keen kids and teens who love the outdoors and bushcraft.

Remember not all campsites allow fires, you might be able to use a fire pit though – always a good idea to check beforehand.

Try some campfire food

Once your campfire is up and burning then get your teens to think about cooking some food on there. Toasting marshmallows is the classic one but perhaps they can find some recipes of their favourite foods that they can try cooking in a different way.

Encourage a nature journal

Older kids and teenagers might love the idea of taking along some art supplies and spending time watching nature and drawing or painting what they saw.

It’s a great way to slow down and develop a love for nature and it’s something that teens can then continue when they are home too if they like it.

Tell ghost stories

Teens love getting scared in the dark so ghost stories are the classic way to keep them entertained in the evening. Not a great idea for little kids who are sensitive, but once they are older you can definitely give it a go and get them involved in the telling too.

Encourage circus skills

Not all teens like to play camping games so if yours is like that, like mine were, then they might like to practice circus skills.

We used to try out juggling and spinning poi – they are unobtrusive so a good idea for busy campsites. They can keep them busy for ages and once they get good it’s a great confidence builder!

Take plenty of layers

Cold teens have a tendency to be grumpy so I always recommend plenty of layers especially as the evening draws in and the sun goes down. It can get cold pretty quickly and teens aren’t going to appreciate an early bedtime while on holiday.

While you’re sat outside the tent make sure that you have a hat and some gloves as well as a nice big comfy jumper for everyone. Thermals might also be a good idea or at least some different layers that can be worn.

Blankets are also good – I like fleece ones because they are nice and light and dry quickly if they happen to get damp.

Take plenty of snacks

Similar to the last point, I always found that when my teens were hungry that was when problems started, bickering ensued and I wanted to pack up and go home!

Making sure that you have plenty of snacks, probably way more than you think you’ll need, is the way to go. Crisps, biscuits and fruit are great to have on hand – anything that can be eaten quickly and easily is the best.

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