If you are planning to head outdoors with your family this spring and summer, why not let the kids be in charge of planning some or all the aspects of your trip? Letting children have some control over the world around them and what they do not only boosts their self-esteem, it also gives them an opportunity to learn about advance planning, consequences of not doing so thoroughly and creative thinking skills on how to adapt afterward. This is an appropriate exercise for preteens and teens. So what if you forget the spaghetti noodles? It’s an adventure!
Letting you teen decide where the trip destination will be is a first step in opening the lines of communication with them. Ask them to consider the time you have to be gone, the time it takes to get there and how much time they want to spend hiking, canoeing or just hanging out at the campsite. Tell them to take into account all the details down to the moment when you have to leave in order to be able to arrive in time to set up the campsite when you arrive.
It’s also a good idea to allow the kids to know that while you will be letting them plan the entire trip you will take a look at it when they are done to ensure they remembered safety essentials like water and make suggestions, but let them figure out all the details, from the destination to what to pack.
Kids don’t get a lot of opportunity at this age to control much about their lives and planning the family camping trip gives them a way to have some say in what events your family will do and also gives them a safe place to test out their responsibility levels where you are there to assist should the situation become unsafe. Be sure to let them plan ALL aspects of the trip and let the decisions run their course. If they forget the noodles for the evening meal of spaghetti, ask them to figure out what they can do instead. They will most likely never forget again and will feel great having come up with an alternate solution.
Start by providing your kids with an outline and let them do the rest. Providing assistance along the way to help them formulate a plan on their own will make your family camping trip more memorable and give your kids a great chance to develop their planning skills and self-esteem.