Your little ones are all grown up now. As it is, they’re not as easy to please or impress, nor are they as sweet as they used to be. Don’t take it personally– adolescence is a challenge for many parents (sort of like walking on broken glass).
If you’re a parent raising a tween or a teen right now, and if you’re taking the time to plan a family weekend to go RV camping with them, hats off to you, first and foremost. Pat yourself on the back for taking the effort to make new memories as a family.
Now it’s entirely possible that your teens aren’t as enthusiastic as you’d want them to be– that’s to be expected. If the kids are all fired up about the upcoming trip, then that’s great. Enthusiasm is one thing and keeping them engaged is another, but remember you might be also dealing with boredom, apathy, or even some resentment (let’s hope not, though!).
Clearly, when RV camping with teens, you’ve got your work cut out for you. Having to walk that fine line between wanting to provide fun while also providing some much-needed structure and family time for kids is totally understandable. That said, here are six things to consider on your next RV camping trip with your teens.
Dealing with Tech on the Trip
Probably one of the biggest issues you’ll be dealing with during your RV camping trip is tech. Teenagers are effectively one with their mobile devices, and convincing them to part with their phones or tablets is going to be quite an accomplishment.
We get it– this is the time to unplug and enjoy the world beyond their small screens. So from the very start, we suggest you agree on how much screen time you can let your teens have: an hour before bedtime? An hour in the morning and an hour at night? It’s totally up to you.
We strongly suggest you don’t cut them off completely from their devices. The last thing you need is having your teens throwing hissy-fits throughout your trip. Instead, we recommend you allow the kids to have some time to chat with their friends or post their photos on social media. Who knows? You might be amazed at what they might decide to share with their friends about their camping trip. (Just pretend you didn’t see it.)
Take Note of Their Interests
A lot of the things your young ones loved to do before might not necessarily be the case now that they’re teens. There might have been a time when a new bug might have held their attention for hours, or they might have enjoyed sledding at a time, but it’s not unusual that they now prefer other things.
Make an effort to find out what they’re into– it could be digital photography, it could be more of geology, theatre, or even cooking. Try to work these interests and activities into your overall plans for the weekend family getaway.
Also: don’t hesitate to mix things up a bit. It’s OK to eat out one night or visit a museum or something similar. If sampling the local fare or soaking up on some local culture can keep your teens’ spirits up on this out-of-town excursion, then, by all means, do it.
Involve Them in Planning
Teenagers are essentially adults in the making. They’re itching and raring to go as far as proving their self-worth is concerned. This is why you’d like to show that you value their input by involving them in planning some of the details of your RV camping trip.
You can let them pick out the activities, or plan out meals for the trip, maybe even choose a destination to visit on the side. Involving them in this way is one sure way of keeping them interested and engaged the entire weekend. Plus, it’s a great way for you to get to know your kids better and see what they’re capable of– you just might be surprised!
Give Them Space
Don’t take it against them if they want a bit of space on their own. Teenagers are big on independence if you haven’t already noticed. So, if they decide to pitch a tent of their own outside of the RV, let them have it.
Even if it’s just a place to retreat to read a book, or sleep on their own away from everybody else, it’s suggested to allow them their own space. You will find them to be more agreeable this way, and even more welcoming of family time.
Have Some Teaching Moments
In line with the adults-in-training theme, it’s OK to have some teaching moments on your trip. It can be building a fire, doing maintenance work on a cross-country bike, or preparing freshly caught fish for dinner. Especially if these are in line with their interests, your kids will remember and appreciate these moments their whole lives.
Remember, not every moment has to be a teaching moment. Use them sparingly for the best effect, and have plenty of fun in between.
Give Them Responsibilities
Last, but certainly not the least, make sure you assign them responsibilities as well. It not only builds character, but it also shows the value of contributing to the overall success of your RV excursion.
You can even have them choose their chores, or be in charge of a particular aspect of the trip like keeping track of your supplies, cleanup, or preparing everyone’s food.
A Final Word About Camping With Teens
Family time in an RV can be loads of fun when you set things up for success. Respecting your teenagers’ needs for independence, space, and being recognized goes a long way towards building your relationship with them.
Understandably, camping is all about weaning yourselves away from gadgets and enjoying the great outdoors together as a family, but it’s OK (and perhaps even recommended) to allow them some leeway in terms of tech and choice of activities.
In the end, all we really want is to have a good time with our young ones. By encouraging them to be involved every step of the way, you’ll be able to better sustain their interest while also allowing for some memorable bonding time together.