Parents @ Play: Camping with kids

Posted Aug. 09, 2013, at 6:12 p.m.


Since camping typically involves an overnight, it’s important to think about how you’re going to get around in the dark (say, to and from the bathroom, from the campfire back to the tent, or even just getting undressed and finding your sleeping bag). While some kids may love feeling their way around by starlight, many will need the comfort of a lantern or flashlight.

HABA Terra Kids Lantern (HABA USA)

One of the problems with battery-operated lighting is that kids never remember to turn them off, which leaves you literally in the dark. The HABA Terra Kids lantern solves that by using an easy-to-turn crank to charge the bright, easy-to-see-by LED lights. So your little ones can keep their light shining all night long — or at least until they fall asleep. This well-built, sturdy lantern comes with a padded handle and a neoprene cover. It also sports a built-in compass (perfect for little explorers), a detachable carabiner, and an alarm whistle so the kids can alert you if they aren’t able to find their way home with the compass. $39.99.

Bibi Bee Kids’ Flashlight (Melissa and Doug)

For the little ones, Melissa and Doug’s Bibi Bee Kid’s Flashlight will be an instant hit and may give them a little more confidence to explore. The bright bee stripes and happy face are great for scaring away nighttime monsters. This lantern takes AA batteries, which are well-hidden by a childproof panel that keeps kids from removing them. However, you’ll need to bring a small Phillips screwdriver, otherwise you won’t be able to get to the batteries, either. $12.99.

ThermaCELLOutdoor Lantern (ThermaCell)

Lanterns are great for lighting, but they also tend to attract mosquitoes and other bugs. This lantern manages to combine a good quality, fully functional LED light source with insect repellant. This lantern is nontoxic, silent, odor-free, and instead of DEET, keeps bugs away with allethrin (a version of a natural insecticide found in chrysanthemum flowers). The ThermaCELL weighs only 13 ounces, and 4 AA batteries provide up to 12 hours of power. $29.99.

Let’s go fishing

Camping trips are a great time to introduce the kids to fishing — and to the time-honored practice of telling stories about “the one that got away.” The Zebco 33 Spincast Combo ($29.99) is an excellent option for both newbies and more experienced anglers. It also comes prespooled, which is nice for everyone. We also liked using the Rapala Original Floating Lure ($8-$13) as twitch bait. Both are available at They also carry everything from rods, reels, poles and tackle for dad to character poles for the kids (even pink ones for those little princesses who still want to play in the mud and water).

Quit bugging me

Whether or not you’re near the water, don’t forget the bug spray. Natrapel Bug Spray (available at drugstores everywhere) is not only effective, but is also DEET-free and safer for everyone in the family. Unfortunately, even the best insect repellant doesn’t get 100 percent of the bugs. And even if it could, there’s always poison ivy and poison oak. The Itch Relief Patches from BeKool ($4.99 for a package of 18, not only relieve the pain and itching, but also provide a physical barrier to prevent scratching.

Distributed by MCT Information Services