Camping with teens is a good way to get them away from their screens and have some good ole fashioned, quality face-to-face family time. Often teens’ think camping involves uncomfortable sleeping areas, bugs, and burnt food. In reality, camping ranges from a living out of a backpack with few supplies to “glamping” with most of the creature comforts of home. After a night or two your teen will realize that camping isn’t about what you do, but who you do it with.

Who knows, your next camping adventure may be the beginning of a cherished family tradition.

1. Location matters when camping with teens

Read some reviews before picking your location. If you like to fish, pick a campground on a lake or river. If you like swimming, pick one with a beach. Select a campground/site that fits you and your teen’s interests.

You can find a list of campsites near you using the search tools on and Use the search options to select certain amenities you and your teen enjoy (bike trails, fishing, swimming, etc.).


2. Create a fun, comfortable campsite

Bring along a screen tent or canopy to be the designated community tent. This space will come in handy for activities, rain and sun protection, or a safe haven from those flying bloodsuckers.

Set up areas throughout your campsite for activities and relaxation:

  • String up a hammock for midday naps or to sleep under the stars.
  • Hang lights from trees or your awning to set a fun mood for the whole family. For ease, use several rope lights to create one long string of lights.
  • Create reading lamps with a headlamp and a milk jug filled with water.
  • Fill the campsite with music. Bring a Bluetooth speaker or a trusty old radio. You can even make a speaker for your smartphone with a regular paper cup.

3. Gather around the campfire

There is something magical about a campfire, especially when camping with teens. The warmth and bright flame entice conversations, but also allow comforting silence. Take time to just sit and talk with your teen under the starry sky. And use that fire to make delicious food!

4. Eat fun food

C-H-O-C-O-L-A-T-E: lots of it when camping with teens. Bring food that you do not normally eat at home: candy, chips, or cupcakes, anything your teen loves to eat. While riding high with salty and sweet treats, mix in fruits and vegetables to keep your teen energized and healthy.

Bring meals that are fun to cook. Even better are meals that your teen can personalize. Make pudgy pies with an assortment of fillings for a hands-on dinner.

In between meals, or while you sit around the campfire, try the following easy, cook-your-own treats. They are fun and delicious!


5. Play games and enjoy outdoor activities

Add a little friendly competition to your trip. Try the following activities and games with your teen:

  • Activities: Swimming, hiking, fishing, canoeing
  • Game: Washers
  • Game: Corn Hole
  • Game: S-P-U-D



During a long rainstorm, settle in for a board game.


If possible, leave the games set up in your community tent while you take advantage of breaks from rain, especially that 6-hour stalemate happening in Risk.

6. Unplug

Set this guideline up front. This trip is family time where screen time is limited to occasionally sharing camping photos. Both of you might enjoy posting on Instagram or Snapchat. However, do not let the online world invade this trip.

7. Enjoy quiet time

While camping involves a lot of outdoor activity, it’s also an opportunity to rest and recharge personal batteries. Bring some books or other reading material for lakeside reading.

Rawhide’s Adventure Camp

Rawhide knows the value of camping with teens. Each summer, we offer weeklong camping adventures along the Wolf River in Wisconsin, designed to help troubled teenage boys. They set up tents, canoe, fish, and swim. Our staff loves watching the guys gain self-confidence, develop new friendships, and learn respect for each other. It is an important program made possible through generous donors. Consider giving to help at-risk youth experience a family camping experience and learn life skills through our Summer Adventure Camp.