Poll: What Age Can Kids Camp In Their Own Tent?

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By now, everyone should know about the upsides of bringing a "kid's tent" for a play area. But when is the time right for kids to sleep the whole night in their own tent?

My niece is going to turn 9 years old in a couple of weeks, and she wakes up much earlier than her dad, my brother, who's not too stoked when she's begging him to wake up and get the day started at 5:30 am. So she's welcome to get up and out of the tent by herself and do her thing. Her thing is, I'll have you know, to come near our tent to try to wake up my daughter Chloe, who's just 4 years old, so she has someone to play with.

Guess what? Chloe wakes up, yes, but she's slow at getting energized in the morning. She wants someone, as in me or my wife, to carry her outside and sit with her. Get her a cup of milk. Make her pancakes. Shower her with attention. All that jazz. So she won't just go outside and play with her cousin. She demands that one of us wakes up and does it for her. Ugh. For at least two years now I've been dreaming of and thinking about and hoping for the day these two girls could camp in their own tent. My wife and I all alone in a tent - wow, mmm, what a thought that is.

Like many families with super little ones, we like to pack along a small ground tent for the kids to play in during the day. I've secretly been hanging onto the hope that the kids will get this bright idea and go, "We want to camp in here tonight!" But get this - my plan is to say no way. Use it as leverage, and dangle it out in front of them a bit. "Finish your vegetables, then we'll think about letting you two camp in your own tent someday." Yes, I'm playing with fire here. But I want them to want it so bad that their hopes will be sky high.

Well. Gee. It hasn't worked like that. Go figure. So far it's never occurred to them to want to camp in their own kids-only tent. This isn't going the way I want it to go. Hmph. Should I be surprised? That's practically the pure definition of fatherhood. You know what's really going to happen?  I'll probably just barely get through one night without her and then I'll be the one who wants to go back to the old system . . .

But I've always wondered, when is the appropriate time and scenario for kids to sleep in their own tent? What do other parents think?

Let's just assume the weather's good, you're not in bear country, and the kids want to do this. We're not talking about sending little ones out all alone, but with an older sibling, cousin, or a friend, and you're in your own tent not too far away. So, what say you?  What age are you comfortable with your kids sleeping in their own tent without mom or dad? Be heard! Cast your vote, and comment if you want to elaborate.


+2 / -1
# Wil 2011-09-14 16:50
I think it is hard to put an age restriction on a child, a lot has to do with the mentality of the kiddo. For example, one child might get scared at small things due to lack of camping experience and children's natural active imagination. Where on the other hand, a child that has had more experience in camps may be able to have the foundations that the scary noise was just the wind, or a branch falling off a tree. I would think that poll results are going to based upon what each parent thinks their child and their respective age at which they will be ready.
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+4 / 0
# Mark 2011-09-14 17:29
Well heck yeah. That's the point. I want to know what age you think is right for your little ones.
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+3 / 0
# Loren 2011-09-14 18:20
I am told I was camping in the backyard at age 6. Our 8 year old does good in the RTT atop a trailer with us nearby. I'm sure it helps to have brothers/sister s/friends in the tent regardless of age.
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