Having and keeping fellow parent friends can be hard, or friends in general, if you have kids. When do you find time to get to know each other while you’re all busy raising tiny humans? You can’t even hear yourself think at any of your kids’ functions, so those are all out. One way you can strengthen these adult relationships is with a friendly parent camping outing.
Camping is a perfect setting to take your bonding to the next level. Not only will you get quality time with the kiddos if everyone brings theirs, but you can slow things down and get to know these people in your life. To make sure there’s no screaming, fighting, or never talking to each other after — for the adults and the kids — you need to think some things through. Let’s go over camping guidelines to ensure everyone stays friends after the trip is over.
Before you book the campsite, make sure your friends tick a few boxes. Bringing the kids with you? Then you need to double-check some things.
Do your kids and theirs at least get along?
If you are both bringing children, do they play well together? You don’t want to find out in the first few hours that the kids don’t even like each other. Oh, will that not be fun for everyone?
If they do get along, do they like similar things?
Sporty kids and bookworm kids aren’t going to agree on the same activities. If the kids won’t do things together, they are going to spend their time whining to you.
Are your parenting styles compatible?
Or if they aren’t, will you be OK with that? If you have strict times for eating and sleeping and your friends don’t for their kids, how will that make you feel?
If you don’t bring the kids, do the adults have anything in common?
You need to make sure you will have something to talk about in the downtime. Those quiet nights will get a bit awkward if you hate talking about sports and the people you brought want to discuss how their favorite team is doing.
Are your lifestyles going to blend well?
Do you want to see the sites, but they only want to sit and play board games? If your interests in the camping adventure don’t line up, it may even get a little heated if you can’t agree on what to do.
Now, with adding extra people to the camping mix, there needs to be a bit more organization. Having multiple people from different homes bringing items means you could end up with all drinks and no food or all cooking utensils and no place to sit.
Make sure the list is not in the group text you use for everything else or it will get lost in the shuffle. Create a separate space — Excel sheet, special group message — that is only for camping needs.
Keep it fair
Split things evenly between all the adults, but keep it fair. If you have one child and your friends are bringing all four of theirs, you might need to redistribute the amount of who brings what for certain things. The list of what to bring can be a mile long, so divvy it up properly.
Remember the basics
- Physical games
- Board games
- Card games
- Sporting activities
- Explore nature
- Hike the trails
- Tell stories
- Cook/make s’mores
The whole point of camping is to hang out with the people you are with. If you all want to stare at your phones, you could have stayed home where there’s running water and air conditioning. The longer the list, the better, so that way you don’t run out of ideas and there are plenty of options to choose from.
You want to make sure you have a variety. Some people like to be active and physical while camping and others just want to sit by the fire and play card games. From board games and backyard games to music and books, ask what everyone in the group likes and make sure there is something for everyone.
Be flexible, be realistic
If things start to go a bit south during the trip, keep in mind why you are there. If you brought kids and they are misbehaving or you originally wanted to go for a hike one day but everyone changed their minds, remember that it’s all going to be OK.
Keep communication open
Between the adults, between the kids, and between the adults and kids, there will be less confusion and less room for arguing if there’s complete and open communication in all directions.
You can plan all you want and map the days out, but at the end of it, you just need to have fun. Have great talks, see beautiful sites, and enjoy each other’s company.
You need to give it some thought before you agree to go camping with anyone outside of your family. Sibling squabbles will be forgotten and forgiven, but words exchanged between friends can destroy relationships. Keeping expectations flexible and open while camping with friends will help the trip run smoothly so you don’t have to go solo on the next one.
- A simple guide for talking with your grade-schooler about LGBTQ identity
- Expert advice: Gender identity terms, explained in a way a grade-schooler can understand
- What is Juneteenth? How to talk to kids about this important holiday
- 4 best Juneteenth picture books to teach kids about the holiday
- 5 lesser-known things to do in Niagara Falls that won’t involve crowds or queues