Sunday, July 6, 2014

7 Tips for a Summer Kids Will Always Remember

It’s summer and with the warmer weather, surely the kids will want to get outdoors and play, right? Wrong. Left to their own devices, kids these days will waste away and entire summer playing on a mobile device or watching endless episodes on Netflix.

I don’t know about you, but when I think back on my summers growing up, they’re full of adventure and family time. Don’t get me wrong, these aren’t necessarily all happy memories (though most are), but they are definitely memorable and contributed to who I am today.

RVing is one of the best ways to get kids to unplug, because, let’s face it, they are away from all of the devices.  Sure, it can be work, but it’s well worth it and you never know what type of adventures you’ll have.

But camping is more than just selecting a camp site and traveling in an RV. It’s what you do that makes the RVing experience something the kids will remember and treasure. With that in mind, here are 7 activities to do with your family while RVing to promote a closer family.

Cook Together

It’s amazing how many kids leave home for college or career and don’t even know how to prepare a box of macaroni and cheese. For something as essential to life as eating, if kids don’t know how to cook they can develop unhealthy eating habits. RVing is a great time to teach kids basic cooking principles. In particular, teach kids how to properly prepare different types of foods, food safety tips and how to get creative when you’re missing an ingredient (which inevitably seems to happen when you’re camping). Often, camping meals are simple enough for kids and teens to lend a hand and learn a quick fix.

Play Games

It sounds so simple, but it’s so easy to forget the power of game night. Playing games together promotes family unity and teaches children how to handle winning and losing. It also provides time to talk and keeps their mind off the Facebook posts and texts they’re missing while they’re away from it all. Great RVing games include card games like golf, Egyptian ratscrew and Phase 10.

Share Stories

Too often, we assume our lives are mundane and our kids don’t want to hear stories about when we were younger. But wouldn’t you like to know more about what your parents were like at your age? Skip the “I walked 12 miles uphill in the snow both ways” talks – they’ve already got those memorized – and tell stories of your youth. What did you love to do as a kid? What type of trouble did you get into? What did you learn from it? What would you do differently? And, if you’re going to share, be open to listening to stories your children want to share with you. A listening ear is something kids will always remember.

Explore Nature

Your kids can probably tell you the name of every pop music icon, but what about the names of flower, trees or animals? There’s so much to explore in nature. Kids are used to the idea of exploring (at least in the digital world). Teach them how to safely explore the real world and share the excitement of discovering simple things like caves, interesting rock formations, beehives and footprints. Bringing a camera along to document the experience can help them share what they find later when they get back to their digital world.

Teach conservation values and respect for nature

You don’t have to be an environmentalist to know the value of preserving the great outdoors. Take the time to teach your children the value of no trace camping (leaving a campsite as good or better than you found it), and to value both plant and animal life. That respect for nature will pay dividends in other areas of their lives.

Teach a Skill

Camping is a perfect time to teach a new skill. Do crafts together. Teach kids how to whittle, tie knots, light a fire, dig a latrine, cut firewood or a number of other skills. Even though most of these skills have no practical application in day to day city living, there is value in establishing work ethic and in the process of how to gain and develop a skill. Once you gain one skills, it’s easier to gain others, and many skills are transferrable.

Reinforce science (astronomy, rock cycle, water cycle, etc)

Finally, just because it’s summer doesn’t mean kids can check out from schooling and forget everything they learned. RVing is a great opportunity to teach or reinforce many things kids learn in school, particularly science. Stay up late and look at the stars to learn more about astronomy. See the rock cycle or water cycle all around you. Talk about ecosystems work and how each plant and animal plays a key role in an ecosystem.

This may be well and good, but if you’re like me, tent camping can still be, well, uncomfortable. If you feel the same way, RV camping may be the way to go. It provides many modern luxuries like a kitchen, bathroom, beds and electricity so you can rough it without getting roughed up. RV camping isn’t just for mom either. It’s great for families with little kids, or if you want to bring grandma and grandpa along. My mom's health isn't great and so taking an RV is the perfect way to be able to bring grandma without worrying.

However you Go RVing, be sure to make it a family experience your kids will cherish. What’s your favorite camping memory?
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