13 Camping Hacks with Kids To Save Your Sanity

Camping is one of the top reasons we enjoy the summer.  It is an awesome feeling to get away from the beeps and lights of all our distracting electronics. No schedules, no homework, no sports, just fun and relaxing family time.

OK, well fun and relaxing may be stretching it a bit.

I have four kids, all young. I thought I waited long enough to trek them out into the woods for some camping fun. But even the most well-behaved kids can test a mom’s patience.

I have tried so many different things to keep my sanity alive and well, and below are some of my favorite kid camping hacks.

But before these hacks, you definitely want to start out with a family camping list. Without this list I would be a mess.

Now onto the kid camping hacks I have started using on our outings.

13 Hacks For Camping With Kids

The purpose of these hacks is to make your entire camping trip less stressful and more organized. These ideas are from things I personally was struggling with that I needed a “fix” for so I can enjoy more and stress less.

I hope you find them helpful!

Ultimate Family Camping List

Pack your supplies and goods once, and never pack again! My downloadable camping list will help you stay organized and be ready any time you want to head out on that camping trip. Just grab your tubs and go.

Grab the PDF of my family camping list and get started making your own tubs today.

family camping supplies
Image Credit: Simple Family Preparedness.

Paper Towel Holder

We have a pretty good hand washing station with a paper towel holder, but inevitably, they always fall on the muddy ground at least a few times. 

This year, I will be hanging my paper towels using a bungee cord like I found on Tailgating Ideas.

paper towels for camping
Image Credit: Canva.

Keeping Your Cooler Colder

If you are going camping for an extended period of time or where it is especially hot, you will face the challenge of keeping your food cold.

There is nothing more frustrating than going to get some food only to find out the cooler did not do its job. These tips from Lynn Bremner, a desert road trips expert should help!

Making Pancakes

I know, seems silly, but if your kids love pancakes like mine love pancakes you will understand why this is on this list. If they go more than a day without them, the whining commences.

making pancakes while camping
Image Credit: Canva.

No mom got time for that on a camping trip.

So, I now pre-make the batter before we leave the house and store it in a ketchup bottle. I usually bring enough to last 2-3 days. For our family we can use 2 bottles for each day of camping.

These can stay good in a cooler for a few days! Restaurants do it this way too just so you know!

Meal & Activity Planner

Even with my pre-packed tubs from my camping list, I still have to plan (and pack for) our meals and activities.

I LOVE this meal planning system that Sarah over at Mean Mommy Academy created.

The Ouch Pouch

I have a pretty complete first aid kit in our camping supplies. But I wanted to have something smaller with just the basics in a small little pouch I can keep handy and use for those small “owies”. 

It even includes a few suckers because sometimes that and a “mommy kiss” are all the little ones need.

You can buy an ouch pouch on etsy here, but I will be making my own!

Camp Caddy

One problem with my tub system is that it can be hard to access things on the bottom once AT camp.

This year, I will be adding a shoe organizer to our supplies so I can “unpack” the tubs at camp and have all my supplies ready to use! I made it light enough that we can hang it from our RV or the tent with some bungees.

hanging shoe organizer for camping storage
Image Credit: Canva.

Camp Songs

One of my favorite childhood memories is singing around a campfire. 

But when we took our kids last year, I couldn’t remember many camp songs. 

So off I went to find some ideas. I took some from this list and created my own printable that I could add to our tubs so we always have them on hand for those campfires!

Camping Bingo Cards

I want my kids to notice what is around them when they are camping and gain an appreciation for the world around us.

These Bingo cards from Ranger Rick are a perfect way to do that. You can also design your own if you are creative and make it custom to the camping site you are staying at.

Camping Tic Tac Toe

camping tic-tac-toe with sticks and rocks
Image Credit: Canva.

One of our favorite activities! First we explore the area and find some goodies we can use as tic tac toe boards.

Sticks help create the board and then each child is assigned an X or O to find.

Stones, pinecones, leaves are just some of the things that they can find to play the game.

We like to find a tree stump to play on, but you can just use a table or blanket. This can be a full afternoon of fun from the collecting of the game pieces to actually playing the game.

Explorer Journal

camping journal
Image Credit: Canva.

I love this little printable explorer journal from Fleece Fun.

My kids love to explore and they love to talk about it. 

Now, after each exploration we do on every camping trip we have them write their thoughts in their journal. Once they are done we pack them away in a special box we have for each of them.

Some day we will give them those boxes so they can look back and have some great memories of all the camping trips we enjoyed together.

Free Simple Family Activities

I like activities that bring us together as a family, but don’t cost money. I also like when we do not have to bring anything extra on our camping trip since we already have so much. 

Most of the activities on this list from Real Family Camping are free and can be done with things right in your camp. From a scavenger hunt to building a bug house, there are plenty of fun and free ideas for the whole family!

Easier Camping Meals

I love food. Cooking it not so much.

As we all know, cooking on a camping trip is not always easy, especially when you are a family of 6. So, I am always on the hunt for easy meals I can make in the great outdoors.

One Sweet Appetite has been a life saver for me. Her list of camping meals offers several ideas for minimizing cooking time at the campground by doing some food prep at home. Definitely check out the list if cooking is one of your struggles!

And there you have it! Ideas to help busy moms keep some sanity while camping.

Do you have any life-savers you have found over the years that you want to share? Drop a comment below!


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Becky is a wildlife enthusiast and pet and livestock care expert with a diploma in canine nutrition. With over a decade of experience in animal welfare, Becky lends her expertise to Simple Family Preparedness through insightful info about pets, livestock, bee keeping, and the practicalities of homesteading.

10 thoughts on “13 Camping Hacks with Kids To Save Your Sanity”

  1. we just got a Coleman Weatherman tent and we love it! Room darkening and ventilation and SPACE. We have four kids, ages 15,13,11, and 9

  2. When you are ready to get another tent I would really recommend an ozark trail tent from Walmart. They have a great selection of cabin tents ( straight walls). We have had one for a few years now and we love it. Ours is not an instant tent and we sealed all the seams. It has held up through wind and rain wonderfully.

  3. Instead of a camp kitchen tub, we made a patrol box similar to what the Boy Scouts use. It makes it more organized and I work on the open part ( compared to a tub it has a fold down front). I leave it packed and just replace the items we used after we are done camping. I do like your idea of having a list of items in the tub and of things that need replaced each time.

  4. I bought enough oilcloth at Walmart to make a table cloth and seat covers for when it rains during the night and the picnic table benches get wet. oil cloth is flannel backed so it doesn’t slip. it comes in patterns, on a bolt in walmarts that sell fabric. you can also buy it at craft and fabric stores. Dollar tree has a cheaper version with plastic but they don’t last. I have used the same oilcloth tablecloth for 10-15 years.


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