Why Camping is Good for Child Development, by Janet Sandford
Camping is not an ‘on a plate’ sort of holiday but an adventure. Children love exploring and discovering new places and from the moment you set off in the car, the adventure begins. When the imagination is engaged so is intellectual development. Try to resist plugging them into an MP3 player but use the journey as a learning game, looking for things beginning with or particular makes of car or number plate.
2) Map work
Map reading is a useful skill both intrinsically but also for broader development. Even if you have SatNav, encourage the use of maps to follow the journey and look for road signs. An engaged child will also be less bored and grumpy in the car. Once on site, you can use local maps for walking. Good for physical development too!
3) Practical skills
Children can join in on all of the practical camp activities from putting the tent up, making a washing line and cooking. Even in a modern world, these are still useful life skills.
4) Learning to contribute
Yes, some aspects of camping can be laborious and you can’t just put things in the dishwasher and forget about them. There are always lots of small jobs to do and children need to learn that they have a responsibility to participate. Done in the right way, even chores can be fun.
5) Appreciating nature
Children can learn the joys of being with nature, understanding it and respecting their environment. This could include not littering as well as being wary of danger. If you have a botanical knowledge, you could also teach them names of plants; maybe at least, a few varieties of trees.
It will certainly be a different environment to the one they are used to and learning to adapt to change and different surroundings will prove to be an invaluable skill in life and in work.
7) Learning to cope with adversity
You may get bad luck and plan your holiday for the wettest week of the year. Learning to cope with things being imperfect and keeping a positive outlook in a downpour will be transferable to many other difficult situations in the future. You could say, every cloud has a silver lining!
8) Developing social skills
Children are likely to meet and play with other children that they haven’t met before which is excellent for social skill development. Many larger camps may also have organised activities and it’s good for kids to spend some time away from mum and dad in a safe environment.
9) Learning racial tolerance
Particularly if camping abroad, children are likely to rub shoulders with a range of colours and nationalities often not speaking a word of the same language. However, through the international language of play, children can learn a natural tolerance which will make them always open minded to all races.
10) Parenting skills
If children have been brought up in a family that camps and have learnt to enjoy being outdoors, mixing in and mucking in, they are likely to want to do the same as parents and pass on the benefits of camping to another generation.
Now you can see that camping clearly is a great way for children to develop a whole bunch of skills, you better start looking for those tent pegs! Happy camping!