Oh, technology — smartphones, tablets, mp3 players — all those visual Kool-Aid devices that keep kids tranquilized and quiet while parents try to steal some peaceful personal time! It’s amazing, but at the same time it can be scary when your kids get that glassy-eyed robot look to them. Encouraging kids to be active is harder and harder with all of the sedentary distractions available — you can take something away but there’s always something else to sit and watch. What’s a parent to do?
Camping is a great way to keep your children engaged with the world outside of an LCD screen, and is by far the most popular choice for American families. In 2011, Americans spent a total of 534 million days on camping vacations. The average camper goes on about five trips a year and travels an estimated 190 miles from home to camp ground. You would think traveling so far would minimize the ability to get a cell or wifi signal, but the tech revolution should not be underestimated — tons of places have wifi signals now, including camp grounds.
Here are some ideas for family camping trips that never fail to have the kids sliding their screens away and smiling.
- Put your own phone away. There’s nothing kids learn from faster than a bad example.
- Have some fun with water. Squirt guns, creeks, water balloons, pool time — all of these things will force everyone to secure their electronics far away from what you’re doing.
- Go hiking. This is by far the most popular camp ground activity — over 90% of campers go hiking. Bonus points for bringing disposable cameras the kids can use to document all the cool things they find in an album when you get home.
- Get them dirty. The great outdoors is for exploring! Bring nature guides, dig in the dirt for worms, identify plants, have a scavenger hunt, do arts and crafts. If the kids are engaged they won’t even miss their devices, and if they’re too dirty to touch them it helps deter the urge to sit down with a game of solitaire.
Anything we missed? Leave a comment!