Sunday, August 24, 2014

Camp Chores for Kids - 8 Tips for Chores Your Kids Can Do In Camp

You put in a full day at work, drove several hours, and now you’re trying to get unpacked as quickly as possible so that with camp set, you can relax before dark. Your child won’t stop whining and seems to be intentionally getting underfoot. What’s the solution?

Relax, be patient, and give your child some camp chores.

Will this slow your pace? Yes, but if multiple adults are in camp, one parent kicks it into high gear staying clear of the “project”,  while the other parent and child tackle it. Even if there is only one adult present, try your best to give the child a job that makes the child feel involved, important, and attended to, and your patience will be likely to diffuse the difficult behavior.

what Camp chores can kids do?

Camp chores build confidence and expertise. There is so much kids can do. Here's Mama's go to list:

  1. Pick up kindling and firewood.
  2. Help erect and take down the tent.
  3. Help blow up and deflate mats (ours pump by hand).
  4. Build and take down camp chairs.
  5. Help prepare camp meals.
  6. Hang wet clothing and gear to dry.
  7. Clean the site of any wrappers, twist ties, or other trash left behind by past campers.
  8. Help do the age appropriate portions of Mama and Daddy's camp chores, using good judgement and guidance. Mama's rule is anything involving fire, camp stoves, and sharp tools is not an appropriate chore for small children.

Chores build character and occupy little hands. Perhaps the child is too small to do much more than pick up a few small pieces or kindling, or fumble around trying to put the tent poles together while you patiently twiddle your thumbs? Praise your child’s efforts, and as the child grows watch the efforts grow.

Rewarding kids for a job well done

Rewards help. A hug from mommy will be reward enough for a toddler, but sometimes older children require more motivation. An incentive program such as earning marshmallow roasting rights, a favorite granola bar, a dip in the lake, or a trek to the playground makes camp chores all the more appealing to enterprising types. However, the praise and pride of being recognized for doing it themselves often goes further than any reward.

Sometimes it’s easy to just do it yourself, but…

It is easy to spot a child who has never learned to do camp chores. The child will sit in your favorite chair imploring you to fetch snacks and beverages seemingly unaware you are busy with other things. In the short term, it's not always easy with kids. Often it is easier to just do things yourself, especially if you want them done "right". My big hangup tends to be a desire to get chores done myself to avoid  listening to whining about the chore. To keep the faith, I remind myself that patient coaching now will pay off later. It is an investment in my family's camping future.

It’s never too late to raise the expectations bar. If you raise it while they are young enough that they still want to be like you, do what you do, bask in your attention, and treasure your praise, the battle may be more easily won.

Camp chores for kids – final thoughts

A final word on camp chores. Starting children young sets the tone. It may be an exercise in patience, but I promise teaching little ones to help with camp chores will pay off in the long run.

Rule #4, kids need camp chores…do you agree?

For more about Rule #1, Attend to Children’s Physical Well-Being, Rule #2, Keep Kids Busy and Engaged, and Rule #3, Keep Kids Motivated, please check out the tips in my previous three posts in my Secret to Camping, Hiking, and Paddling with Kids Series. Let me know what you think about today’s post, which contains Rule #4, Kids Need Camp Chores.

Should kids be expected to do camp chores? Do your kids pitch in?

I’d love to hear your suggestions for camp chores for kids. Please comment below.


  1. Mama,
    I agree that Kids do need to do camp chores.
    You didn't talk about at home. My tips is kids can pack their own gear and hiking snacks at home.

  2. Welcome to Mama's Basecamp, and thanks for the great tip Jena!

  3. Thank you so much for the post you do. I your post and all you share with us is up to date and quite informative, i would like to bookmark the page so i can come here again to read you, as you have done a wonderful job. SUmmer camp

  4. Thank you for all of these wonderful tips. Your blog provides so much more than just a list of good ideas. I really like your comprehensive, thoughtful approach to camping with children. It will be a big help to me as I prepare for a long road trip with my four children this summer. Thanks again!

  5. Have an awesome time camping this summer! If you decided to blog or post a video about it please let me know. Thanks for stopping by.