One of the things I love about being in the camper van is the ability to drag kids away from their screens. You can get wi-fi on campsites but it’s our experience is that the wi-fi is usually pretty poor. Once you introduce the kids to the great outdoors, after some initial grumbling, they take to it like a duck to water.

Photo of van in Northumberland
Our camper van in Northumberland – home of dark skies

Camping and camp fires

So what to do with them when you set up camp? The National Trust has produced an activity list of things for kids – 50 things to do before you are 11 3/4. The full list is here in a handily downloadable PDF which you can print and take with you: https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/documents/50-things-activity-list.pdf

You can tick one off already which is to camp out in the wild. Those nice people at the National Trust possibly didn’t have a camper van in mind when they wrote the list! Just take a pop up tent for the kids to sleep in. Or they could sleep in our inflatable awning attached to the camper van.

Cooking on a camp fire is another easy tick off the list. Here’s a handy guide
from the Woodland Trust, aimed at kids, for setting a camp fire: https://www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/naturedetectives/activities/2016/06/how-to-build-a-campfire/ Just make sure that your campsite allows fires before you start! But soon you can enjoy toasting marshmallows and making smores to your heart’s content.

Forest activities

If camping near a forest, building a den is another fun activity for adults and kids alike. We have had hours of fun with the kids on this one, finding suitable sticks and and leaves to cover it.

High on the list is climbing a tree. We’ve all tried that at one stage or another. Unusually, exploring inside a tree is also listed but I think that it must be fairly rare to find a hollow tree? Other ideas are playing Pooh sticks and damming a stream (get your wellies on!) How about climbing a huge hill? You may need sweets to coax and encourage the kids to keep on walking. (The voice of experience!)

The Night Sky

Camping makes you so much more aware of the darkness. Liberated from our electrically lit houses, you become much more aware of the night sky. The obvious thing to do is to star gaze and have fun spotting all the different constellations. One of the best places to star gaze is in Northumberland. Take a look at this link for more information about their International Dark Sky Park: https://www.visitnorthumberland.com/darkskies

Another fun thing to do in the dark is this idea taken from a favourite book of ours: 101 Things for Kids to Do Outside by Dawn Isaac. One is a game of Torch Tag. You may need to be camping in a large group for this as you will need a fair few kids to play.

One person has a torch and can move around but the object is to guard a flag or other similar object. The other people, who are trying to capture the flag, spread out and have to creep around as quietly as possible to avoid being tagged by the torch. If the person guarding shines the torch onto someone, that person is out. The game continues until either someone captures the flag or everyone is out.

Set out boundaries as to how far the kids can roam to play this game. Make sure older kids look after the little ones, if you’ve let them stay up late!

Photo of Dawn Isaac's book
So many great ideas in this book

Beach activities

If you are camping near a beach, tick off swimming in the sea (a favourite of mine), jumping over waves (a favourite of my kids!), exploring rock pools and catching a crab. We enjoy doing these on our trips to Scotland although I’ll bet the water is warmer if you do these in Cornwall!

So that should give you plenty of food for thought to get your kids enjoying the great outdoors this summer. You can even do some of these activities on day trips. Camping allows them to really get stuck in though. Let us know if we can help you plan a trip and activities when booking our camper van.