Camping with a teenager

Camping with teens is less nerve-wracking and logistically challenging than camping with little ones, but it comes with its own set of challenges—and opportunities.

Teens likely will enjoy camping more if they can play a substantial role in planning the trip details. Jointly select a destination with things of interest to them, whether it’s water activities like kayaking and swimming, biking trails, or a dinosaur museum along the way. Plan out fun meals that you don’t normally eat at home and that your teen will look forward to.

Let teens bring a separate tent to give them some autonomy and space during the trip. Furthermore, let your teen actually have some alone time, and don’t force them to participate in everything. Remember that your teen may want to stay up late and wake up late.

Make plans ahead of time about technology on the trip. Figure out whether you’ll have WiFi and cell service and, if so, what limitations are appropriate—including the possibility of no electronics.

Even more than young kids, teens may appreciate the opportunity to bring along a buddy. If your teen is interested in bringing a friend, do a little due diligence to make sure the friend is a good fit. The camping buddy should be truly interested in camping, have a positive attitude, get along well with the rest of your family, and be someone your teen knows well.

At camp, give your teen responsibility for tasks like setting up tents, cooking, planning outings, and the like.

Good teen activities may include:

  • Biking
  • Frisbee
  • Slacklining
  • Cornhole
  • Water balloon fights
  • Scavenger hunts
  • Geocaching
  • Fishing
  • Kayaking/canoeing
  • Stand-up paddle boarding
  • Swimming
  • Photography
  • Nature sketching
  • Craft projects/ nature scrapbooking
  • Guitar/other portable musical instrument
  • Stargazing
  • Fossil hunting
  • Seashell collecting
  • Learning/practicing survival skills
  • Reading books
  • Napping
  • Learning knot tying
  • Board or card games
  • Mystery games (like Mafia or Murder in the Dark)
  • Charades
  • Truth or Dare
  • 20 Questions
  • Flashlight tag
  • Campfire stories
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