I know what you may be thinking. It’s counter-intuitive to give your kids chores while on vacation. But hear us out. Even though they may whine about doing chores at home, while you are camping, it may actually be something they gravitate towards. It gives them a sense of purpose. They may be more apt to help out if it’s on vacation if it’s “for fun.”
Bonus – it lightens your workload! Camping with kids who are young enough can require constant supervision, and you want to make sure the tasks you assign are age-appropriate for them. Much like Baby Bear’s porridge, you want to make their chores “just right.”
Here are a few chores to get your little tikes part of the camping crew.
Help with Setting Up Camp
If you have older kids that can help with hooking up water, sewer, etc. lines on your RV, great! But younger kids can easily be nothing but a distraction when you set up camp – unless you get them involved. If you have a dog, get them to take Fido for a short walk around your camping area (within reasonable eye shot) or to take them for a poo. You can also have them lay out any rugs you have or set up outdoor camping furniture. Or helping to set up the tent.
If your campsite is in a wooded area, have them search near your site for bits of wood, branches, and other kindling. Just let them know not to wander too far. If you have more than one kid, have the older one be ‘firewood manager.’ You can even make it a competition to see who can collect the most kindling.
Pick Fresh Flowers for the RV or Picnic Table
Depending on where you camp, your kids may be able to find small field flowers, pine cones, or even berries (not to eat) to help decorate the table to look nice. But if there are berries nearby, such as blackberries in late summer, these can absolutely be picked and would make a great addition to pancakes in the morning. This is also a great education about picking edible stuff in the woods as a segway into plant identification and survival skills.
Washing the Dishes
At home, dishwashers do most of the work. But in an RV or tent space, it’s all hands on deck! Kids tend to find water-based chores more fun, so play into that and make it more fun with lots of suds and bubbles. Toddlers are probably best left to do the drying, as playing in suds can get really messy. Just be sure that the adults manage the washing of knives and other sharp objects.
Hunt for Trash
Your little ones may hate picking up their toys, but trash is a whole other animal. In nature, they can understand that it’s not natural to leave human trash behind. This is a great way to teach them the Golden Rule of nature to pack out what you pack in. Even if it’s picking up trash others have left behind, it’s a great way to teach them to be mindful. Let them think of it as a treasure hunt. The one who comes back with the most garbage gets a prize or a tasty treat.
It can be a feeling of utter freedom to be able to navigate on your own within a large campground, find the dumpster, and dump the trash in the right spot. It gives them a feeling of independence that they can find their way around on their own. That way they get a feel for the lay of the land and a sense of self-sufficiency.
Sort of like popping bubble wrap, kids can be a huge fan of helping to deflate things to get them ready to store away when breaking down camp. If you have inflatable rafts, tubes, sleeping bags, or air mattresses, it can be fun to just flop down on them to help get the air out. Just make sure they roll around and get to all of the corners!