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Complete Guide to Lake Camping with Kids

Complete Guide to Lake Camping with Kids

Camping with kids can be a blast! But it can also be a lot of work. This guide will help you make the most of your camping trip with kids, from packing and planning to activities and games that will keep them entertained. We’ll also share some tips on how to deal with common problems like bad weather and homesickness. So whether you’re planning your first family camping trip or you’re a seasoned pro, this guide will help ensure that everyone has a great time.

What to consider when planning a camping trip with kids

Choose a campground with amenities suitable for kids

When planning a camping trip with kids, numerous amenities should be considered. Location is key; public campgrounds are more likely to be surrounded by nature, while private RV parks are closer to attractions and urban areas. It’s also essential to look for campgrounds with a pool or other swimming area, playgrounds, fire pits, picnic tables, beautiful views, safe roads, easy access, interesting local attractions, green space where groups of kids can play, and a dog park if you plan to bring a pet. Campgrounds with good cell service or free Wi-Fi are also great for rainy days or downtime. It’s also essential to plan ahead, as state campgrounds can be booked six months in advance and may sell out quickly.

Research local attractions and activities for kids

When planning a camping trip with kids, it’s important to do some research beforehand to ensure the best possible experience. Looking into local attractions and activities can help make the trip more enjoyable and stress-free. Not only will having a plan provide entertainment and keep the kids engaged, but it can also give parents peace of mind knowing that there is something to do if the weather isn’t cooperating. Researching the area can also help you plan for any necessary equipment or supplies you may need to bring and alert you to any potential safety concerns. Furthermore, researching local attractions can help you discover exciting new places to explore and provide lots of family memories that you can look back on.

Make sure you bring enough food and water

Food and water are essential when planning a camping trip with kids. It is important to prepare in advance to ensure everyone has enough to eat and drink throughout the trip. Here is a list of food and water items to bring when camping with kids:

  • Non-perishable, dry food such as crackers, granola bars, nuts, dried fruit, and cereal
  • Canned food such as tuna, beans, and vegetables
  • Protein-rich food like jerky, nut butter, and hummus
  • Trail mix and energy bars for snacks
  • Cold cuts, cheese sticks, and fruits for meals
  • Hot dogs and marshmallows for toasting over a campfire
  • Gallons of clean drinking water per person per day
  • A water filter or purifying tablets to make sure water is safe to drink
  • Water jugs or bottles to store water
  • Breakfast items like oatmeal, cereal, or instant coffee
  • Coffee and hot chocolate for colder nights

Check the weather forecast before you leave

It is essential to check the weather forecast before embarking on a camping trip with kids. Unpredictable weather can be dangerous and can lead to a ruined trip. Knowing the forecast in advance can help parents plan the most appropriate clothing and gear for their family. Additionally, camping in inclement weather can be frightening for young children and even lead to dangerous conditions. For example, if the forecast calls for heavy rain, you should be sure to bring a rain fly for your tent and raincoats and waterproof boots for the whole family.

Checking the weather forecast can help create an enjoyable and safe camping experience for everyone. Furthermore, checking for warnings about forest fires or flash floods in your area before embarking on a camping trip can help keep you and your family safe from potential harm. Finally, having a GPS and a map of the camping area can be helpful in unexpected weather, as they can guide you to a shelter or to the nearest town should you need to evacuate.

Pack clothing and gear that is appropriate for the weather conditions

When camping with kids, it is important to pack clothing and gear appropriate for the weather conditions you will be facing. Rain, cold, and other inclement weather can appear suddenly without much warning, so it is important to be prepared for all possibilities. A rainfly and raincoats should be packed in case of a surprise rainstorm. Additionally, it is important to bring extra layers of warm clothing for everyone, as nights tend to be colder than expected. This will ensure that everyone is comfortable and warm throughout the night. Finally, it is essential to check the weather forecast ahead of time to plan ahead and be prepared for any potential issues.

Pack games, books, and other activities to keep the children entertained

For a camping trip with kids, it is crucial to pack essential items such as diapers, wipes, itch/rash creams, and their favorite toys. Additionally, it is wise to bring various games, books, and activities to keep your children entertained. Board games, cards, and books will help pass the time and keep them occupied. Consider packing supplies like glow sticks, bubbles, bug catchers, and lanterns to make the camping trip even more magical and fun. Musical instruments, such as a guitar or a harmonica, can also be fun and create a unique atmosphere around the campfire. If your kids are older, put them in charge of bringing their own books, movies, and games, or have them help with organizing the supplies. Your camping trip with the kids will be fun and memorable with all the right supplies and activities.

Take into account your child’s needs

Considering your child’s needs when planning a camping trip with kids can help ensure the trip is comfortable and enjoyable for everyone involved. Knowing your child’s preferred activities, sleep patterns, food preferences, and other needs will make it easier to choose the suitable campsite, the best supplies and equipment, and the most suitable meals. An organized plan will make packing and unpacking easier and help you avoid last-minute rushes or forgotten items. By considering your child’s needs when planning a camping trip, you can ensure their experience is as positive and memorable as possible.

Ensure you have enough supplies

When camping with kids, it is crucial to bring the right supplies to ensure your safety and comfort. Bare essentials include a first aid kit, flashlights, airhorn, bear spray, bug spray/tick spray, sunscreen, GPS device, map of the location, tool kit, rope, duct tape, and a list of items specific to your baby/toddler such as diapers, wipes, itch/rash creams, and their favorite toys. Additionally, you should consider bringing two good-size coolers, a hard and soft one for storing your food and drinks, as well as a propane grill and tanks in case your campsite has restrictions around wood-burning fires. Finally, make sure to bring enough drinking water for the duration of your trip.

Consider packing a first-aid kit and emergency supplies

When camping with kids, it is crucial to be prepared for emergencies. A first-aid kit should contain, at a minimum, bandages, gauze, medical tape, antiseptic wipes, antibacterial cream, tweezers, scissors, a thermometer, painkillers, hydrocortisone cream, antihistamines, anti-diarrhea medication, and a first-aid manual. It is also crucial to include emergency supplies such as a flashlight, airhorn, bear spray, bug spray/tick spray, sunscreen, a GPS device, a location map, a tool kit, rope, and duct tape. For supplies for your baby/toddler, bring extra diapers, wipes, itch/rash creams, or their favorite toys.

surprised kid looking through binoculars in camp

Best Lake campgrounds for camping with Kids

One of the best lake campgrounds to consider when camping with kids is the Lakeshore RV Resort & Campground in Northwest Iowa. It has been around for 25 years and has a beach and various outdoor activities such as basketball, shuffleboard, volleyball, and mini-golf. In addition, it offers train rides and canoeing with adults available to train kids.

The Stoney Creek RV Resort & Campground in Osseo is a great option for families in Wisconsin. The campground sits among rolling hills and quiet forests, with a kiddie pool full of play structures and a deeper swimming pool with lifeguards. Other activities available include skating at the skate park, playing volleyball, and mini golf.

At Pine View Campground in Fort McCoy, your family can experience a taste of military life, with reveille at 6 a.m. and bugle calls throughout the day. The campground offers tent sites, a river full of trout, and a lake with a swimming beach and plenty of amenities.

For a unique camping experience, the Plymouth Rock Camping Resort in eastern Wisconsin offers themed family-friendly activities such as ice skating on shaving cream, a Charlie Brown Christmas in July, and Superhero week. The campground also has mini golf, paddle boats, arcades, shopping, and restaurants.

Finally, the Wisconsin Riverside Resort in Spring Green has kid-friendly campsites, lush greenery, and the Wisconsin River with white bluffs, plus activities such as boating, fishing, biking, and hiking.

Family on vacation in the forest

What should I bring when camping with kids?

When camping with kids, it is essential to be prepared and organized. Here is a comprehensive list of items you should bring when camping with kids:


Diapers, wipes, itch/rash cream, extra clothes, favorite toys, first aid kit, flashlights, airhorn, bear spray, bug spray/tick spray, sunscreen, GPS device, map of the location, toolkit, rope, duct tape.

Camping Gear:

Tent (with rain cover), tarp, mattress pad/air mattress, mattress pump, sleeping bags, pillows, blankets, down jackets or any cold-weather jacket, rain jackets, boots, water containers (keep two 10 gallons), water filter, food supplies, coolers/ice chests, stove/grill, lighter/matches, dry wood for a campfire, plates, utensils, soap, trash bags, towels, toilet paper, zip lock bags, totes for supplies, lighting (headlamps, lanterns, flashlights, fairy lights), and music/speakers (optional).

Other Items:

Propane grill and tanks, gallons of water per person per day.

Finally, remember to plan ahead and check with your campsite host in advance. You and your kids can have a safe and enjoyable camping trip with a little preparation.

Funny kids lying in a hammock, summer camping

What are the pros and cons of camping with kids?

Pros of camping with kids:

  • Breaking the monotony of daily life
  • Stimulates their brains and introduces new activities
  • Rediscover family bond away from creature comforts of home
  • Teaches kids valuable skills, responsibility, and independence
  • Kids love the outdoors and fresh air
  • Quality time spent together as a family
  • Cheaper than other forms of travel

Cons of camping with kids:

  • Requires more planning and preparation
  • Need to find the right gear for the trip
  • Need to find suitable campgrounds for the whole family
  • Need to consider food, activities, and walkability
  • It can be challenging to manage camping with small children
Tent camping children


What is camping with kids like?

Camping with kids can be an exciting and rewarding experience. With a little planning and preparation, it can be a great way to spend quality time together as a family. From learning to appreciate the outdoors to making memories that will last a lifetime, camping with kids provides plenty of opportunities for exploration, discovery, and adventure. It is also a great way to introduce lifestyle changes and teach your kids valuable life skills such as responsibility, independence, and survival tactics. With the right gear, simple camping meal ideas, and a positive outlook, your family can make some sweet memories camping under the stars.

What amenities are available at family campgrounds?

If you’re considering a family camping trip, you want to look for a campground with various amenities. Look for campgrounds with a pool or beach, playgrounds, fire pits, picnic tables, bathrooms with flush toilets and hot showers, potable water, easy access, interesting local attractions, green space, a dog park, and good cell service or free Wi-Fi. Additionally, check for restrictions around wood-burning fires, bring your own water, and rent any necessary camping equipment. With these features in mind, you’ll surely find the perfect family campground for your needs.

Are there any activities for kids at campgrounds?

Most campgrounds offer activities specifically tailored to kids, such as games and sports, fishing, nature walks, and more. For added fun, pack games to play around the campsite, such as scavenger hunts, board games, and stories. Additionally, many campgrounds have rental equipment available for those new to camping.