Are you wondering how you are going to convince your teenagers that camping with the family will be fun? Are you tired of the whining and complaining when you do go camping with teenagers? I’m going to share some tips for camping with teens that will help make everyone a happy camper or at least help keep you from losing your mind!
Involve your teen and make it fun with camping games and activities that are geared for teenagers. Don’t expect them to want the same experience that you do. Your teen will probably want to be more entertained than you. Even if you teen loves camping, you may find some fun ideas below.
Tips to Make Camping with Teenagers Easier and Fun
This post contains affiliate links. You can read my full disclosure here.
1. Set some rules and expectations before you go. Try to keep it positive, but let them know you need their help and cooperation with some chores at camp (setting up, cooking cleaning, packing up etc.)
Decide how much electronic time they will have. Wifi may not work, and I know this is a deal breaker for some teens.
2. Let your teenagers help plan the camping trip. Recruit them to find a campground or area they would like to visit (within reason with your travel budget and time).
Use apps and websites like The Dyrt, HipCamp, and state and national park websites. Use my exclusive link for $10.00 off your booking at HipCamp locations!
3. Look for camping near fun attractions. Most teenagers like ziplines and rafting. Be willing to venture off the campground for some extra fun.
4. Choose campgrounds that have amenities your teenager will like. You may be perfectly happy to sit in a beautiful forest away from everybody and enjoy the peace. Your teenager will probably be bored!
Many campgrounds have game rooms with pool tables, foose ball, and tvs. Volleyball “courts” and horseshoe pits are fun ways to meet new friends. Outdoor movies are also popular – except they may think the movie is cheesy or kiddie!
Swimming pools are another popular amenity with kids of all ages. (Most state and national parks do not have swimming pools though I know of a few state parks that do.)
5. Find campgrounds that have on site water activities. I mentioned swimming pools already, but don’t overlook lake beaches. Some campgrounds even have canoe, kayak, and stand up paddle board (SUP) rentals.
If boat rentals aren’t available and water access is allowed, take your own kayaks (consider inflatable kayaks for easy transport) and tubes. Giant rubber ducks or pink flamingos are fun lake floats. Or what about a float for the family or all their friends?
Fishing will ether be fun and challenging or boring (especially if the fish aren’t biting).
6. Take advantage of ranger led programs. Ok, I realize alot of teenagers will not be happy following a ranger on a hike while they point out natural or historical landmarks.
But what about a full moon hike or full moon canoe float? Stargazing and night skies? Stand up paddle boarding classes? Wildlife classes can be fun – think animal tracks, bear safety, snake identification ( you can often “pet” or hold a snake ) or creek stomps. I have seen all these options at many state parks for a small fee or FREE.
7. Let your teenager bring a friend camping with them. Yep, I am suggesting bringing another teenager along! You could say misery loves company, but honestly, your teenager will be happier if a friend is with them.
Just be sure it is a friend you think they will enjoy spending several days or more with. Also don’t feel bad about saying “no” to a friend that you don’t approve of or you think will just make the camping trip worse.
Most teenagers worry about missing out on what is happening with their friends when they are away. Bringing a friend solves that worry. Plus, their friend may actually think it is fun to try new things, and they may like being around a family that actually wants to spend time with them.
You can be the cool camping mom and dad!
8. Plan fun camping food. There are tons of different s’more combinations to try. Or fix popcorn over a campfire with this cheap popcorn or this nicer, campfire popcorn popper.
Have you seen the crazy nacho tables people are preparing and devouring?
- Cover the table with aluminum foil ( I agree it seems like a waste and maybe not environmentally conscious for those that are trying to eliminate trash).
- Spread tortilla chips down the entire table.
- Add your choice of toppings.
- Everyone gathers around the table and eats the nachos. The table is essentially one big plate.
I personally don’t know about this, but I can see where teenagers may think it is fun. People have strong opinions about it – they either love it or hate it! #nachotable #itsnachotabletime
9. Let your teenagers have their own tent, especially if they are bringing a friend. Everyone may appreciate them having their own space. Keep in mind some campgrounds only allow one tent or RV/camper per campsite though.
10. Get them hammocks. Hammocks are fun to relax in during the day and many people prefer sleeping in them. Plus they come in several cool colors!
11. Glamp it up for the girls. Do you have teen girls that don’t like roughing it or the rustic vibe? Or maybe you camp in a nice RV but it is just not that special to your teen. Bring some pretty accessories, string some lights around your campsite, plan some fancier meals, and go glamping.
12. Bring instruments for music around the campfire. Is anyone a musician in the family? Bring a guitar for some campfire singing. You can download some traditional campfire songs if nobody can play or just sing acapella to your favorites.
13. Don’t force participation in every planned family activity. Give your teen some alone time if that is what they want. I’m not saying to let them mope at the campsite or hole up in the RV the entire time, but respect the fact they may want some space.
14. Take them backpacking. Skip the developed campground and go backpacking instead. Some teenagers will like the challenge, and others will hate the hike that involves carrying all your gear on your back.
The destination and views may be worth it to them – the beautiful waterfalls, cool lakes, desert seclusion, and mountain tops only discovered by venturing further out.
There are several young thru hikers sharing their journeys online and on You Tube. Head over to the Trek to read some of their posts and find some channels to follow.
The following tips for camping with teenagers involves the use of electronics. I know this can be a sore spot for some families, and I totally understand wanting your kids to disconnect from their devices and connect with you.
If you do allow your teens to have their phones on your camping trip, these camping activities for teenagers are a good outdoorsy themed compromise.
15. Issue a camping selfie challenge. Send them off on a scavenger hunt. Their goal is to find all the items, landmarks, and people at the campground and complete the challenge by taking a selfie with their finds. Don’t forget the selfie stick!
Recruit some neighboring campers or divide your family into teams and make a race of it. Your teens will make new friends and capture some awesome photos and memories of your camping trip.
16. Download some outdoor apps. Do some star gazing with SkyView Lite or StarWalk 2. Identify nearby mountain peaks with PeakFinder. Go geocaching with this app.
17. Make a you tube video. Have them record a video about the camping trip. Make it a family affair, a comedy spoof of how much they hate camping, or a how to video.
Final Thoughts on Camping with Teenagers
In know it stinks if your teenager that used to love camping as a kid doesn’t even want to go with you now. Take heart, many teens go though a phase and then end up loving camping later.
But keep in mind, your teen is growing and developing interests of their own at this time in their life and camping and outdoor adventure may not be their thing.
I want to encourage you to try to make it a camping trip that teens would like, and hopefully they will not be totally disrespectful and make everyone miserable! Ask them what they don’t like about camping – maybe they will give you actual reasons that you can find solutions for and make it more fun.
Do you have any tips for camping with teenagers? Anything that your teens love to do or that has worked for your family? Share with us in the comments below!