You’re on a camping trip. The sun is shining, and everybody is happy and having fun. Suddenly the sky darkens, and it begins to rain. For many people, this spells disaster, game over, pack it up, and let’s go home. But it doesn’t have to be like that. Camping in the rain can be a fun and memorable experience if you plan ahead.
A friend of mine just went camping with two young children, and the first day out, it was pouring. I thought about all the times I went camping and realized that when I was younger, rain or shine, it was great just being outside. Part of it was changing my mind to not automatically think, “Well, this stinks!” The other and larger part is planning. Here are some ways that you can still have fun camping in the rain with kids.
1. Plan Ahead
As the old Boy Scout saying goes, “Be Prepared.” If you plan in advance by packing the right gear and equipment, then you can be prepared for a sudden rain shower or a drastic change in the weather.
- Bring lots of plastic bags – Bring big heavy-duty ones, small Ziploc bags, middle-sized bags, especially if you know it will be raining. There is nothing worse than a wet sleeping back at the end of a long drive or hike to the campsite. Make sure food like break and medicine is well wrapped and protected.
- Newspaper – Newspaper is great for scrunching up and putting into wet shoes. It will help to dry them out quickly. Just make sure the newspaper stays dry by keeping it in a plastic bag.
- Tarps – A heavy-duty tarp under the tent will help it stay dry inside. Also, you might want to put a waterproof tarp strung up over your tent. Just don’t have it touching the tent. If it looks like it will be raining for an extended period, then a tarp can be put up to create a dry area for cooking and picnicking.
- Watch where you put the tent – Placing a tent in a low-lying area is just asking for trouble. Try to find a relatively flat area at a high point or with a very gentle slope going away from the tent. Setting up on the side of a hill with a significant rain coming may get you, and your tent washed downhill. When I was in the military, we would always try to create a small trench around the tent so the water would be guided away from the tent.
- Rain gear is a must – If you want to really enjoy camping in the rain, then a rain jacket and pants are worth it. I like a nice rain poncho as well. Try to get waterproof shoes, rubber goulashes, or a good pair of sandals. If your shoes are not waterproof, then make sure you bring enough socks so you can keep your feet dry while you use the scrunched up newspaper to dry up the wet ones.
2. Walk in the Rain
If you plan ahead and bring the proper rain gear, then a short walk in the woods can be an exhilarating experience. My daughter loves to jump in muddy puddles with her rain boots after being inspired by a certain pig from England. Jump in the rain, breathe in the fresh air, and experience what it’s like for the animals in nature. This can also be a great learning opportunity for you to teach children about taking shelter in the rain and what to be cautious of as well.
3. Story Time!
Camping on normal nights always involves some scary stories for the Fox family, but just because it’s raining doesn’t mean you have to stop the stories. Here are some ways to do this:
- Everybody tells a sentence – Sit in a circle and begin the story with something like this: “I was walking in the woods one night when suddenly I heard a scream.” You go around the group, and each person tells a sentence to continue the story.
- Story Dice – Some kids need props or help to tell a story. I recommend using Story Dice or this great new game that I found called “Tall Tales.” You pick pieces randomly from a bag and also pick an environment card, and then you have to create a story that ties them all together.
What is camping without a campfire? As long as it is not too rainy, then a campfire is a great way to dry off and take the chill from the bones. This is also a great time to tell stories. Try to keep an area covered so you can get a nice fire going at the end of the day or even in the afternoon. Roasting marshmallows over a fire will help the young ones learn to enjoy camping, and I guarantee they will be asking to go camping so that they can roast marshmallows again.
The nice thing about camping is it is a chance to unplug and enjoy things they might not ordinarily do. If you have talent, break out the ukulele, guitar, or harmonica. You can also find some nice easy campfire songs to sing whether you have a musical instrument or not. Some of our favorites include Camp Granada, The Unicorn Song, Country Roads, The Wheels on the Bus, and many more. Jason Mraz’s I’m Yours is an easy and fun one to strum on the ukulele.
6. Read Books
Just as camping is a great time to sit around and tell stories, it is also a great time to read a book. Sitting in the tent and reading a book to your child as the rain pitter-patters outside is a memory that will last forever. These days Father Fox is Lucky enough to have Daughter Fox read to him. Just make sure you bring enough books for the trip. We like to get the 5-minute stories books. There are all kinds, from religious stories to My Little Pony. It’s nice to bring a variety.
7. Swimming in the Rain
It sounds a little crazy, but as long as there is no lightning, it is a great experience. You are wet from the rain anyway, and the water from a lake usually retains enough warmth that it will feel warm compared to the cool rain. A nice dip in the lake can be followed by drying off by the fire.
8. Card and Board Games
There are so many card games that kids love to play. Those that are easy to learn but fun to play are the best. The nice thing is that, unlike board games, they are compact and easy to pack. My daughter loves Crazy 8, Uno, Phase 10, and the last time we were out, I remember her playing something with her friend called Snappy Dressers that could be adapted to all kinds of different games in one. If you have a daughter, then the board game Pretty Princess is a big hit. Other board game favorites are Candy Land and Chutes and Ladders.
9. Movie Night!
The Fox family tries to keep the screen time to a minimum. But if it’s a long and rainy trip, then settling down with the family to watch a movie is a nice way to forget the rain outside. Just remember to have a full battery and that you probably might not be able to stream anything. Bring some popcorn and chips and gather around the screen for a nice family film. Better yet, bring a portable projector and watch it on the wall of the tent.
These are just a portion of the great activities and fun you can have while camping in the rain with kids. Create memories that will last them forever by camping outside as often as possible. Kids who spend time on farms and in the countryside grow up healthier and happier. See you on the trail! Rain or shine!