Easier Than You Thought

Camp With Your Kids (Painlessly)

We asked camping experts for age-appropriate activities likely to grab your kids' attention and get them outdoors.

By Sarah Mahoney, Monday, Jul 20, 2009, 9:00 AM

Many state and national parks offer ranger-led experiences geared toward grade-schoolers. For example, Junior Ranger programs allow youngsters to complete a set of activities during their park visit under the direction of an adult ranger. Participants receive an official Junior Ranger badge or patch and a certificate. Call your park to find out if it runs this program. If it doesn't, the National Wildlife Federation suggests some do-it-yourself activities, such as planning a nature scavenger hunt, telling campfire ghost stories, and asking your kids to identify the night sounds as you all fall asleep. Find more ideas at greenhour.org.

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With this age group, you can take it up a notch. Appeal to your tween's innate competitiveness and curiosity by seeing if they'd like to try caving, rock climbing, or cross-country skiing.

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They're probably more capable physically than you are, and more eager to take on challenges. Let them test their mettle in the wilderness. Ask them to prepare a few meals by themselves. You might even consider booking teens a separate, adjoining tent site, to give them some privacy and independence.

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