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Camping & Cottage Tips for Sensory Kids


May long weekend in Canada is unofficially the start of camping/ cottage season. After a long, cold winter, many of us can’t wait to head to the lake.

While exciting for Mom and Dad, leaving the comforts of home on May long weekend can be stressful for those on the spectrum. While these tips are written with children in mind, they can be easily adapted for teens and adults as well.

Here are some camping & cottaging tips for sensory kids!

Prepare Early

If you’re planning to head out camping or to the cottage on May long weekend, start talking about it early. If you are booking a camping site, show your child where the site is on the campground map. Talk about some of the activities the campground has to offer and some things the family can do. If heading out to the cottage, pull out some photos from last year to show your child. Talk about the things you did at the cottage last year. But remember to point out that swimming might not be an option on May long weekend due to the water being too cold!! (Insert science lesson here!)

Make a checklist

Get your child involved in the planning by involving them in the list making. Sit down with your child and get their input on what needs to go with you on the May long weekend. When making the grocery list, it’s great to add in something special that you buy just for camping or cottaging. When my kids were younger, we always bought the little boxes of cereal. These were a special treat that were just for camping.

Have your child make their own list of items they want/ need to take. If space is limited because you’re tenting or trailering, set a limit of how much stuff they can take. Limit their items as to what can fit into a backpack or a duffle. Ensure that favourite items are included. It often helps to purchase a new item just for camping – a book, a new set of markers, a new tin of putty.

Mark it on the Calendar.

While the calendar on our phones or tablets can be great to remind us of events, children with autism may need a more visual reminder.

The paper calendar on the fridge or bulletin board works wonderfully for those that benefit from a visual. Circle the date that you will leave so that it is a highly visible reminder.

While some children enjoy and can manage a daily countdown to May long weekend, the anticipation might be too much for others. You know your child best. If the anticipation is too much for your child, this is something that can be scaffolded throughout the summer. Start small and build it up a bit more each weekend that you head out.

No Wifi- now what?

If your child relies on their tablet for some much-needed downtime during May long weekend, ensure that you have everything in place to fill this need. Check to see if the location you’re heading to has Wifi. If not check out portable Wifi options from your internet provider or other providers.

Power up your portable chargers if you’re heading to a spot with no electrical. I purchased a solar powered charger for my daughter that works great as long as it’s a sunny weekend.

Take Chewigem Glow in the Dark items.

If your child is a Chewigem user ( and even if they aren’t)  consider our Glow in the Dark chewelry and fidgets. We have these fun pieces in every chewing strength- from the Cat Pendant to the Button Pendant. Our Hexichew even comes in Glow in the Dark!  GID Chewigems make it easier for your child to find their Chewigem at night if they wake up needing it. A group of GID Chewigems can even act as a nightlight which can be really soothing in a dark tent. Imagine the fun of wearing a GID Chewigem while around the campfire on May long weekend!

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