There is no better camping companion than your own son or daughter. But instilling a love for the outdoors in any child is a delicate balance between too little and too much exposure to your occasionally rabid enthusiasms. Sometimes, the best approach is to simply encourage them to explore life beyond their gaming console or the coddled comforts of home by providing opportunities to discover their own passion for the natural world. At the youngest ages, this inevitably means some form of play. Here are three ideas that can have a lifelong impact on any future campmate or fishing partner.


Check Price

Even if it means rolling out a pint-size ruck sack on top of a kid’s cartoon bed sheets, there is something about a first sleeping bag that tends to spark youthful imagination. But it doesn’t have to be only a toy. A three-season starter bag will see plenty of use on family camping trips or when a young boy or girl is finally old enough to claim a bunk at deer camp. Anything with a minimum temperature rating of about 35 degrees is sufficient for most introductory camping experiences. Just be sure to bring an extra blanket, and maybe throw another log on the fire!


Check Price

For the youngest boys and girls, an indoor tent is a reasonable (and totally unironic) way to introduce them to the notion of outdoor adventure. Pop up a rugged mountain shelter on your lushly carpeted floor, toss in some toy cookware and survival tools, and it’s almost certain that you will have to serve them dinner at basecamp or haul them off to bed come nightfall.

Kidz Xplore

Check Price

If being outside is about anything, it’s the desire to satisfy one’s natural curiosity. A junior field kit with items such as a compass, binoculars, an insect net, specimen jars, magnifying glass, and other “sciencey” gadgets encourages children to get outside and indulge their instinct to explore.