• Dan Clark's wife Alice sits in the tent with their children Koby and Ava Fei while on an expedition through Canada's north. (Photo: Dan Clark)

Feel like your life is too busy? Want to spend more time outside? One antidote to my family’s hectic life is the slow acting magic of a few nights under the stars. Even though we just returned from a two month expedition through Canada’s arctic (with two kids in tow!) we still can’t wait for fall camping.

It hardly matters if you’ve never camped before or whether you’ve spent thousands of nights in a tent BC (before children) - try a night sleeping outside with the kids and you will never look back. If you love Canada's wild spaces, you will be a happier parent if you are sharing the great outdoors with your wee ones. That said, there are challenges; here are a few tips for dealing with them.

Kid-Friendly Food
Ask almost any parent about their kids’ eating habits and their answer will usually include some comment on frequency. Snacks are the currency of family time outdoors. Think apple slices and baby carrots in zippies, and you are on the right track. A sheltered place to cook and eat is the final ingredient for successful family camping, especially when the rain starts or the wind comes up.

Plein-Air Play
To encourage open-air play, start by slowing down the pace of family camping trips. If you’re on the move, plan to cover half the distance in twice the time and choose outdoor destinations where there are natural features that are exciting and varied for kids - a combination of water, forest and rock is possible in many spots.

Bedtime in the Boonies
It is all fun and games until the tears hit at bedtime. The first few nights camping as a family can be challenging, so it is helpful to ease into it by camping close to home, and bringing a few familiar items to help get little adventurers settled into their sleeping bags and peacefully off to sleep. If they won’t go to sleep, or the tears start, here are a few final tips:

• Get everyone in the family their own headlamp for reading the last story or slipping out of the tent for a pee
• While laying in the tent together, try to identify all of the sounds around you. This will help ease the worries of new kid campers
• Un-zip your sleeping bag and lay it over the whole family. Snuggle the kids to sleep and, believe me, after your full day of fresh air you will soon be unconscious right along with them