How to Camp with Teens

Dear Vanessa’s Advice Column,

I want to take my kids on a camping trip because you are often recommending doing different types of activities with your kids. I am a little worried they are going to freak out at being outdoors. Do you have any suggestions?


Dave, Austin, Texas

Camping is a great idea! I do have a few tips though, you do not want a surly teen in the wilderness! And it is summer fast approaching, maybe planning a weekend camping trip is a good idea.

1) Do Not Force Them

You can encourage, maybe lightly bribe, but if they really really do not want to go–do not take them, they will sulk the whole time. if you can get them to gruntingly agree, that is good enough (do not expect them to be overjoyed).

2) Give Yourself Planning Time

I am all for spontaneity, but everyone has lives to plan around. Make sure your teen knows about the trip way ahead of time, so there is not unplanned projects or homework, school dances or plans with friends that are ‘unchangeable’ if you spring it on them they might get more stressed than relaxed from the trip.

3) Leave Technology at Home

If you are going to go camping make it a tech-free weekend. You know your own family’s limits better, but consider leaving cell phones, internet, iPods, DVD players, Computers at home…

4) Find an Activity

Camping is good, rock climbing, river rafting, hunting, outdoor games are even better. Nothing is worse than getting to the wilderness, away from cell phones, TV, music and internet and then having nothing to do. Get some cool new gear and pick a new family activity. Here are some cool suggestions:

-Rock Climbing


-River Rafting

-Ropes Course

5) Have the Right Gear

Make sure you are prepared. There are a few essentials you do not want to overlook:

bug spray, hiking shoes, sleeping bags, tents, sunscreen, camping stove (I really like this camping gear site)

Remember the most important thing is to have fun, stay safe and use it as a great bonding activity!


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5 Responses to “How to Camp with Teens”

  1. Vanessa
    May 28, 2008 at 8:05 am #

    From my mom: Hey Ness: Mention too that if the kids are younger they could try a backyard campout first

    thanks mom!

  2. Tracy
    July 3, 2008 at 9:48 am #

    You don’t have to completely ditch the technology to have a great time camping. Geocaching with a GPS is great family fun in the outdoors. Here is an intro on You Tube:

  3. Chris
    February 23, 2009 at 8:47 am #

    Just discovered your website and love it! We have been camping as a family for years and our teenagers still enjoy it. We do bring some technology along with us, but it doesn’t come out until the evening. I would also suggest some games, such as Apples to Apples, to play around the campfire.

  4. Teens Camp
    August 8, 2009 at 2:39 am #

    This site is really helpful for the parents who are seeking for the best information and tips for their stressed and unmotivated or special needs children. Site offers wide ranges of information related with camp programs and activities in detailed. Wilderness camps for teens recommend effective and certified programs for dealing with the behavioral and emotional problems as well as drug and alcohol addiction problems of defiant and depressed youths. Camps provide real camping experiences to boys and girls for improving their behavior, character and personality.


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