Father Eric and his son enjoy a day out on the water
If your family is like mine then day-to-day living is not as simple as it once was. Communicating has become a recipe of 1 cup Facebook statuses, 1/3 tablespoon tweets, and a boatload of texts and phone calls. "Family time" in my household generally consists of a rushed dinner with a few random mumblings about school or work before my wife and I plop down with our laptops and our two boys go to bed.
While I absolutely love the growth of technology, especially social media, I tend to think that it actually makes connecting with your children more difficult. Having distraction-free conversations is becoming less and less common and when you couple it with increasingly overloaded schedules of kids and parents alike, the family relationship is definitely strained.
As strange as it may sound, this is one of the main reasons my family started camping a few years ago. By removing ourselves from the hectic, technology-riddled day-to-day madness called our lives, we have found that camping provides an almost unmatched number of opportunities for us to bond and our relationships are definitely better because of it.
On our camping trips, we have found that the best way to bond with our two boys is to have activities that will encourage conversation as well as provide entertainment. While there are many choices, here are a few that we enjoy the most:
Walking / Hiking
A hike or campground walk is a great way to bond with your children while camping. In the early morning we like to take walks around the campground. To keep it interesting, we go on quests to spot wildlife and keep notes of which animals we see along the way. The best part of these walks is that the conversations are loose and carefree as we discuss whatever comes to mind. In our case, the topic is usually how school for my nine year old is going and which kids in his class are always getting into trouble (which is never him, of course).
The campsite picnic table provides the perfect platform for this activity to return to its glory. Board games can be a great way to have fun together as a family.
Giving the children disposable cameras and letting them take photos during a camping trip is a surefire way to prolong the memories. Their photos provide them with a lot of joy, but it also makes the family scrapbook that much more interesting.
It is the simplicity of camping that makes it great. Don't try to stuff too much into a single trip or your family bonding time will be sacrificed. Take it easy and go slow. You may actually have an improved relationship with your children when you return home, which is what it is all about.
Eric Rayleonard is the owner of FamilyCampMan.com, a camping and family blog dedicated to his return to outdoors and the hopes that his family will come along the way.
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