10 Benefits of Family Camping

Family camping combines the physical and developmental benefits of outdoor activities with the emotional benefits of memorable and distraction-free family experiences. We have listed ten of the top benefits you can expect, although you may likely be able to come up with more once you experience camping with your family.

Benefit #1: Family Bonding

Of all the benefits of family camping, this one is probably the most valuable. Bonding time with your family becomes more and more challenging as children grow and become busy with their own interests, activities, and friends. Family camping is a time to pause the noise of everyday life, get outdoors and be together in nature.

Family camping offers a unique opportunity for a family trip as it naturally becomes a fun team-building exercise as the contributions of each family member can make a big difference in the success of the trip. Family camping provides plenty of opportunities for bonding, whether it is setting up camp together, cooking meals as a team, accomplishing a challenging hike as a family, or sitting around the campfire sharing stories. Being outdoors without the distractions of technology and schedules will do wonders for your sense of togetherness.

Benefit #2: Self Confidence

Getting outdoors and camping is a terrific confidence builder for children. The outdoors is always offering opportunities to try new things and gain new skills. Think about the sense of accomplishment of setting up your tent and campsite. Your children can be a part of creating your camp living space and gain self-confidence, independence and grit along the way.

Trying new things like kayaking or building a fire will force kids out of their comfort zone and lead to personal growth. With the safety and encouragement of family by their side, kids can take on many new opportunities to learn and build confidence, all while having fun!

Benefit #3: Collaborative Problem-Solving Skills

Camping and outdoor adventures often present opportunities to develop crucial problem-solving skills in a group setting. The whole family can participate in meeting these challenges. Children can participate in figuring out how to deal with unpredictable weather, set up a tent or find the best route on a map. These are just some examples of how your kids can gain collaborative problem-solving skills on your trip.

Benefit #4: Physical Health Benefits

Spending time outdoors has proven physical and mental health benefits. Being outdoors gets you moving, gives you your daily dose of vitamin D, provides stress-relief and enhances mood. The International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health article entitled Benefits of Outdoor Sports for Society: A Systematic Literature Review and Reflections on Evidence lists the following physical health benefits:

  • Increased fitness and better cardiovascular function,
  • Reduced blood pressure
  • Reduced obesity
  • Reduced resting heart rate
  • A positive influence on other health markers

The research review article above goes on to state that “These effects result in a reduced risk for several major diseases like heart attack, 13 types of cancer, stroke, and type 2 diabetes.”

Benefit #5: Mental Health Benefits

Mental health benefits cited in the research above include the following:

“… stress, depression, anxiety, tension, confusion, anger, rumination, loneliness, and neuroticism could be reduced by participation in outdoor sports. Furthermore, many positive experiences are described such as pleasure and enjoyment, meditation, independence, basic psychological needs of autonomy, competence and relatedness, experiences of flow, comfort and intense emotions, enhanced feeling of body, discovering the pleasure of achievement…”

The International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health

Research shows being outdoors reduces stress and anxiety. Outdoor family adventures boost mood, increase happiness, facilitate mindfulness and lead to a general sense of well-being in both children and adults. The relative silence and visual aspects of nature alone can have a soothing effect. We often come home from our camping trips feeling de-stressed and happier. The review article describes these benefits:

“Evidence was also provided of impacts on overall wellbeing, quality of life, happiness, and life satisfaction. Overall, green and blue environments seem to have especially positive effects that go beyond the benefits of being physically active in a non-natural environment.”

The International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Three young girls on a wooded trail

Benefit #6: Educational Opportunities

Nature provides many interactive learning opportunities. Studying plants and animals while in their natural habitat is more interesting and engaging for kids. You can challenge your kids to sketch or photograph various plants and animals and then do some Google research later to find out more about what you have identified. If you have cell coverage and want a more spontaneous learning experience, an app like iNaturalist can help you to learn as you go.

National Parks often have ranger-led learning opportunities. For example, in the Badlands, our family attended an interesting talk about dinosaurs as well as an amazing star gazing tour. We will not soon forget seeing the International Space Station cross the sky. If these types of programs are not available, you can download an app like the Star Walk 2 star gazing app and let your kids do some amateur astronomy on their own. Stars and planets are often so bright that you don’t even need a telescope. If you want, you can enhance your viewing with a basic pair of binoculars.

Benefit #7: Appreciation of Nature

A camping trip gives your family the opportunity to interact with and appreciate nature. You can see and hear what we are usually too busy to notice. That intricate flower, the interesting rock shape, a towering waterfall, a hooting owl are just some examples of the sights and sounds that you can enjoy while camping. Spending time camping outdoors will give your family an appreciation of nature that can last a lifetime and likely encourage them to help preserve our natural environment for future generations.

Benefit #8: Amazing Food

I don’t know why, but everything tastes better when you’re camping. Maybe it has something to do with the increased physical activity, maybe it’s the campfire, maybe it’s the unexpected comfort of having something tasty and warm outdoors. Whatever it is, food just tastes better when you’re camping. All of it. The food does not have to be fussy or difficult to prepare. Whatever the mystery behind amazing camp meals, camp meals are a great opportunity for positive family memories. Parents of picky eaters rejoice!

Benefit #9: Endless Hours of Activities

A camping trip can provide a whole world of activities for all. Activities can be relaxing (e.g. reading a book in a hammock), educational (e.g. studying wildlife) or exciting (e.g. white water rafting). Most major parks have various outfitters that can provide all sorts of gear or guidance for more active activities. Our recent three hour rafting trip on the Yellowstone River was an amazing and moderately expensive experience that was a highlight of our Yellowstone trip. Camping is a vacation where you can easily plan your activities based on your personal interests and pace

Benefit #10: Budget Friendly Vacation

Family camping can be one of the most budget friendly vacations you can do. Our national park camping vacations are always a tiny fraction of the cost of a Disney trip. You will have more control of your costs than a traditional family vacation. Lodging can range from a tent, cabin, lodge or RV. You can choose the price range that works best for your budget. On longer national park trips where we are seeing more than one park, our family will throw in a nice hotel day in the middle of the trip to give everyone an opportunity to clean up, re-stock and pamper.

For families, meal expenses on a typical vacation can often break the bank. Family camping can be huge money savings in this department, as you can bring fun food from home that costs a fraction of the cost of restaurant food. The novelty of dining in a restaurant is replaced by the novelty of cooking outdoors. Don’t forget about the magical taste of camp food described above.

Equipment can seem extremely costly upfront, but quality gear can often last decades. Most people start with budget gear and upgrade over time. Kids often do not need the level of quality that more sensitive adults do. If you are just starting out and you’re not sure if you will reuse equipment often, there are rental options. Here are some reliable places to rent camping gear to get you outside and camping, no matter your budget:

Family camping is a budget-friendly family bonding experience. Fresh air, exercise, delicious food, all while spending quality time together, getting healthy, making lasting memories and having fun! We hope that you and your family can soon enjoy all of the wonderful benefits of family camping.

John Olsen

John Olsen is a seasoned adventurer with 20 years of writing, public speaking, team leadership, analytics and project management experience.

Recent Posts