Labor Day is just around the corner, and chances are you’ve already started to think about what you can do with your family and how you can make it an enjoyable holiday. After all, with COVID-19 shifting the way we travel and interact, 2020’s Labor Day is sure to be one that’s a little different than the others. Research suggests that 6 million Americans will be flying during Labor Day, with roughly one million of them flying to Florida.
Ideally, you’ll stay local in an effort to aid efforts to slow the spread of coronavirus and stimulate the local economy. And what better way to do that than with a weekend camping trip? Camping is a great idea because it gets your children reconnected with nature during a time of greater isolation and it can help them grow confident in new skills—like the ability to navigate the forest, cook over a campfire, build a shelter, or identify birds and insects around them.
With that in mind, here are a few tips for taking your kids camping this Labor Day:
Make a Reservation ASAP
Don’t assume that your favorite campground will be readily available. Labor Day will still be a busy holiday for Americans, and many want to go away for the weekend without having to travel too far. Therefore, it’s important to book as far in advance as possible. Make a shortlist of the campgrounds that look most appealing to you and check out the campsites available, paying particular attention to accessibility.
If you’re a beginner and your kids don’t have much experience, start small by sticking to campgrounds that offer ample amenities. Over time, you can gradually work your way over to more remote campgrounds.
Buy Your Supplies Early
Markets around campgrounds tend to go out of supply early, especially during a holiday. To avoid getting into a sticky situation where you have a necessary supply—like coal or firewood—get your supplies in advance, and be generous with necessities like water and wood.
Practice at Home
If this is the first time your kids are going camping, or if they haven’t been a while, practice camping at home ahead of time. Sleeping outdoors is a major adjustment away from the comforts you’re used to, and the goal is to help make your kids as comfortable as possible. Pitch your tent inside the house or in the backyard if you have one. This allows your children to get familiar with pitching a tent and taking it down, as well as sleeping in a new environment.
Get the Kids Involved in Packing
Camping involves plenty of moving parts, and getting them involved in the process helps build responsibility, keeps them organized, and holds them accountable for their part in your camping journey. After you’ve created your list, go over it with them and ask for additional ideas (if they’re old enough). Then, work with them through the list as you pack, asking for their assistance in gathering certain items.
Choose the Right Foods
Menu planning is a big part of the camping experience. Without a stove, you have to be a little more creative on the food planning side. For starters, be sure to include foods that don’t require any cooking, like cold cuts, peanut butter and jelly, overnight oats, crackers, cut veggies, and dry snacks. But you’ll also want to have a healthy balance of cooked meals. This includes the staples like burgers and hot dogs, eggs, grilled cheese, and of course, the classic s’mores. Always include treats and food items that your kids know and love, rather than trying something new that they might not like.
Organize Your Activities
After you’ve set up your tent and organized all your food and supplies, then what? Part of the camping experience means keeping your kids busy with fun, which will allow them to sleep a little easier later on. Your activities will, of course, depend on where you’re staying. Some campgrounds have swimming areas, baseball fields and walking and biking routes, and nature trails. Create a schedule so that you don’t end up overwhelmed the day of.
Talk To Your Family
If you’re going through a separation, or are already separated, try to talk to the other parent in advance to discuss Labor Day weekend plans and come to an amicable decision. According to Jacobson, Julius & Harshberger Law Firm, a divorce lawyer, “There are always several steps you can take to ensure everyone is on the same page. There are always ways to compromise so that your kids get to enjoy the holiday weekend in the best way possible.”
Lastly, teach them about Labor Day. Labor Day is a celebration of the labor and economic achievements that went into shaping the United States today. Unfortunately, this year Labor Day comes during a time where a public health crisis has wreaked economic havoc. If anything, now is a better time than ever to talk to your kids about how hard work shapes the world around us, and particularly how it impacts our country.