Getting the whole family excited about a week out in the bush is one thing, but keeping the kids entertained around the campsite without WiFi is an art form. Luckily, Jase Andrews, father of two and host of hit Aussie show, All 4 Adventures, was willing to share his expert tips to make sure every step is as smooth as can be.
Involve the kids in the planning process and discuss with them the places you could go and why. Are there any unique landmarks, flora and fauna to be seen and experienced? Waterfalls, mountains to climb, rapids to surf or even dangers to navigate? On top of this, get them excited about the upcoming activities: be it fishing rapids, quad biking, horse riding, discovering caves or the like. The important thing is to make it an all-inclusive decision-making process. This will help them feel more invested in the trip.
Now that you have the blueprint in place, it’s time to get them involved in the ‘what do we need specifically for this trip’ discussion. Sit down as a family and brainstorm the essentials – like food, water and warm clothes – as well as a few luxury items. Then, when it comes time to load up the rig and set off, they’ll head into the trip less of a passenger and more of a co-pilot on the road.
Hitting the Road
Before you hit the road, load the car up on snacks, drinks, neck pillows and things to keep the kids busy. Technology provides a lot of engagement and can do so for hours on end, but balancing this out with real time, real people and places is important for a child’s social development. Try to go device free for the full nature experience – but, if you’re staring down the barrel of a long drive and potentially some very bored kids, consider an offline gaming device like the Nintendo Switch – but only in the car, let them know that once they get there, it’s time for a break from the screen.
Once you’re on location, you’re going to need to keep your kids busy. And we mean busy. So make sure you jam-pack their days with exciting and fun activities – especially on the first leg of the trip while they are weaning themselves off technology. That means planning out a full itinerary for each day. Start with the fun stuff. Try planning a scavenger hunt for them (make sure you keep safety in mind). But be sure to let them figure things out: counting the rocks that line the creek crossing, types of trees to be identified and spotting native animals. Have a competition who can first spot a kangaroo or wallaby or find a specific plant or bush tucker.
But the fun activities won’t fill up their day. The next step is giving your kids, like I do mine, daily tasks. Rather than calling them chores, let them know that their tasks are integral to the running of the campsite – this works especially well with the younger crowd. Teenagers on the hand might be tougher to motivate. Nonetheless, jobs, like gathering firewood and starting the evening fire, prepping for breakfast, lunch and dinner, are essential day-to-day tasks.
As time goes on, they won’t even be thinking about the internet. Be sure to point out why being in nature is a wonderful thing, whenever you can. Let them know they can be as loud as they like and teach them the joy of exploring. This really helps them to appreciate that they are no longer in suburbia. Lastly, get them up early on the first couple of days, to ensure they are tired at night and can actually sleep without longing for WiFi and the usual pre-bed browse.
Whether it’s paddling down the creek, going fishing, hunting for bush tucker and quad-biking through the bush, the key is for activities and games to rule over technology. With a bit of luck, your kids will be running and climbing all over the place, just like you used to do.