Many teens have the FOMO disorder (aka: Fear of Missing Out Disorder), so how do you make a family camping trip cool?
Having a teenager usually means you are fluent in eye rolls, huffs and puffs and the idea of spending time with family can be met with some resistance.
Many teens have the FOMO disorder (aka: Fear of Missing Out Disorder), so how do you make a family camping trip cool, where for a few days they might put their phones/electronic devices down?
We’ve included some tips to help limit the distractions (without it feeling like the end of the world to your teen) that will maximize their sense of adventure, creativity, self confidence and stronger relationships with family members.
Get Them Involved-
Teens thrive off of a sense of belonging, so be sure to get them involved in as many aspects of the trip as possible.
1. Planning the trip- One year, we went away for Christmas, so we let our “little one” help plan the trip. We let her do her own research about the area we were going to camp in and based upon her findings, we let her pick out some of the sights she wanted to see. We balanced it out by doing some of the normal “touristy attractions” and including some off the beaten path (free) adventures.
2. Having responsibilities at the campsite- Are they aspiring chefs and want to help with cooking meals? Are the mechanically inclined and can help with jacks, stabilizers, RV hook-ups? Are they crafty, hands-on and like to build things (like campfires, DIY hand washing stations, putting the tent together)? Do they have too much energy, let them pound the stakes into the ground or run around gathering wood. Draw on their own natural abilities and strengths to make them a part of the team. Being involved alleviates boredom and downtime that might otherwise be spent on an electronic device!
Limit Cell Phone and Tablet Use-
Believe it or not, this is actually easier than it sounds. Once kids are working on a project, helping, hiking, biking, swimming or doing any type of exploring, it is amazing how sucked in they become. The more engaged they are, the less likely they are to be bored and checking their phone every minute. We affectionately refer to it as the “shiny ball syndrome”. When there is something new, shiny and fun, it always captures their attention and takes them away from the normal cravings to incessantly text.
Let Them Do Something They Have Never Done Before-
Independence and curiosity should be the two terms that define the teenage years. Fortunately, camping and outdoor time create the perfect atmosphere to achieve both! Have they been in a cave, a mine, seen a bat in real life, gone horseback riding on the beach, driven an off road vehicle in the sand dunes, snorkeled, seen a waterfall? The coolness factor goes up quite a bit, when they have amazing stories and photos they can show off to their friends.
Capture the Memories-
Let them bring their camera, journal, sketchbook or any method that allows them to capture these adventures. Maybe one day they will look back on that trip and think it was the “best trip ever”. You never know what they will remember and what memories stand out the most. Give them a way to capture and reflect. I have even made memory books from our longer adventures. I catch our little one going back through them and laughing about the past!
Give Them Some Quiet Time-
Most teens have ridiculously busy schedules and rarely get time to “stop and smell the roses” or enjoy some free, quiet time. Depending on where you are camped, let them find a rock to climb and sit atop, a hammock to read or take a nap or their very own wooded area to explore (watch out for snakes though). A brief moment in time where they can breathe in fresh air, soak in the experience and be able to find some peace.
Bring a Deck of Cards and Marshmallows-
Having a deck of cards is a fun way to hang out after dinner. I will usually find some mystery or ghost story specific to the area we are camped in and share it after dinner and while we are sitting around the campfire. It’s a fun way to engage their thoughts and creativity and we usually end up creating our own mystery story about the area. As for the marshmallows…you can never go wrong with marshmallows and the bigger the better!
Bring a Few Comfort Items From Home-
No one likes to be really uncomfortable, especially growing and brooding teens! Make sure they bring they favorite pillow, most comfortable walking shoes, favorite snack or whatever makes them happy (and no, cell phones aren’t included in this list)!
Plan Some Trip Where Other Teens and Families Might Be Staying-
If your teens see that there are other teens there, it might be a cool place after all! Plus, teens LOVE social interaction with their peers, so they might meet some really great new friends to.
Wherever you go, whatever you do, just remember you are making memories for your kids! You might even find that they start asking to go camping
Here’s to making memories….