50 Camping Activities for Kids

Here are some great ideas that you can do with your kids while you are camping. Please be responsible and watch your kids at all times, especially when they are near the water.

Swimming at Cannisbay Beach

  1. Go swimming at the beach
  2. Sleep in a tent
  3. Bring a friend camping
  4. Build a sand castle
  5. Paddle a canoe or kayak20140801-iphone-5087
  6. Go fishing
  7. Jump off a rock into the water
  8. Explore a cave
  9. Skip rocks into the water
  10. Go on a treasure hunt
  11. Watch a sunrise or sunset
  12. Find a geocache
  13. Build a fort or shelter
  14. Find and follow animal tracksFollow animal tracks
  15. Go star gazing
  16. Go on a night hike or candlelight walk
  17. Climb a rock
  18. Climb a tree
  19. Roll down a hill
  20. Walk around taking pictures
  21. Catch bugs for a bug jar
  22. Fly a kite
  23. Build a campfire
  24. Make s’mores on the campfire
  25. Start a campfire without matches
  26. Touch a snake, frog, or caterpillarFind a frog
  27. Look under a dead log
  28. Start a rock collection
  29. Make a walking stick
  30. Paint a rock
  31. Make a nature collage
  32. Sketch or paint the landscape
  33. Write poetry about nature
  34. Find leaves and identify the trees
  35. Do leaf rubbings
  36. Keep a bird sighting logbookFinding a feather at Killarney
  37. Make wood slice magnets
  38. Make a dandelion mud pie
  39. Eat wild mint, ginger or berries
  40. Make tea out of edible plants
  41. Look through a magnifying glass or binoculars
  42. Use a map and compass
  43. Learn to identify clouds
  44. Play cards or board games
  45. Sing songs
  46. Make pottery out of clay you find on the beach
  47. Attend a Pow-wow
  48. Sleep under the stars or in a hammock
  49. Help clean up a trail or portage
  50. Sit down, close your eyes and listen
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New: Book Algonquin and Killarney Interior Sites Online

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Killarney Interior Reservations now Online

Killarney Interior Reservations Online

For a long time, if you wanted to camp in the Ontario Parks backcountry, you had to call the Ontario Parks Reservation line and talk to an agent. Well, not anymore! Now you can book Algonquin and Killarney Interior campsites online.

Initially only selected parks had online reservations for backcountry, including the two newer ones, Massasauga and Kawartha Highlands, and the smaller ones like Bon Echo, Charleston Lake and Frontenac. All of these parks offered reservations by numbered site. You had to choose a particular site to be able to stay there. They added pictures to a lot of these sites so you could see what you were booking.

As of March 2015, the backcountry lakes in Killarney and Algonquin are also available through the online reservation system. The earliest you can book your trip through the system is Friday April 24, 2015. In Algonquin and Killarney, the reservation system is booked by lakes not specific sites, and each site is called a tent pad. You can book both canoe sites, and backpacking trail sites (though not the Killarney La Cloche Silhouette Trail). Quetico is also available but it wasn’t working for me when I tried.

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Backcountry Camping with Kids in Algonquin

Algonquin offers an almost unlimited number of canoeing trips in the interior, so I’m only going to mention some which are suitable for the whole family. Most of the time you’ll to want to do a short paddle, and at most one portage before you get to your campsite. It’s common on these trips to do a loop or circuit, to visit a different lake each night. However, this can be very time consuming and your trip would look like this: setup camp, make dinner, put kids to sleep, go to sleep, wake up, have breakfast, take down camp, and paddle to your next destination. Instead, I prefer to choose a centrally located lake and explore the nearby bays and creeks looking for beaver dams, turtles and moose. When I do plan a simple loop visiting two or three lakes during my trip, I still prefer to put a rest day in there to visit the area. We never tire of taking an afternoon to paddle around a lake, visiting the portages on the lake, and finding a good jumping rock to swim from.

Canisbay Canoe-in sites

Canisbay Lake is located next to the Canisbay campground on Highway 60 and has canoe-in sites on a motor-free lake.

You can rent canoes from the park, and canoe to your campsite. The sites are not numbered, so you have to canoe around looking for an empty site.

There is a beach at the Canisbay 20100801-Algonquin-IMG_1236-0301Campground that has shower facilities nearby. Since there are no portages you can bring all those car-camping stuff you usually bring like camping chairs and bug shelters. Don’t bring your cooler though because you can’t put it up in a tree or hide it from bears and raccoons at night.

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Family Camping Safety Tips

The first time I went on a backcountry canoe trip with a toddler, the father was very concerned with her safety and rented a satellite phone because there was no cellular coverage where we were going. She was a trooper on the trip considering we did a strenuous five day loop in Algonquin Park and it rained four out of the five days. By the end we were all complaining of being soaking wet, while she was happy to spend time in the tent.

How much should you worry when camping with kids? Can you over-prepare? Here are some things you should consider before leaving, and some things to do and keep in mind when you’re out camping:

1) Kids getting lost

  • If your kids get lost in the woods teach them to stay put.
  • Teach your child to find an open spot or a well marked trail and to wait there until help arrives.
  • Tell your child that it’s okay to make lots of noise to attract the attention of the adults when they are lost.

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Camping with a Baby

We went camping twice before my daughter was one year old. Having done a lot of back country camping before we had a baby, we were excited to go car camping for a change. Both trips were the highlight of our summer.

Lighthouse Point Killbear Provincial Park

Lighthouse Point, Killbear Provincial Park

Camping with a six month old baby was fairly easy. We brought two tents so naps were in one tent while we slept in the other. We also brought a playpen and a net that went over it to keep the bugs out. We used the playpen at the campsite and we took it to the beach. We brought our umbrella stroller but we found it too hard to push on the gravel roads around the campground.

Algonuin Park

Hiking the Spruce Boardwalk Trail

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