Are you looking for an affordable, fun family adventure this summer? There’s no better way to enjoy nature plus quality time as a family than by camping. Children of all ages can enjoy camping, and it’s the perfect way to get your family to unplug from their electronic devices, phones and game systems. You can get the entire family involved in the camping trip as well, from planning meals and games to sharing songs and stories.
Some parents may feel a bit intimidated about taking the family camping, especially if they are not very outdoorsy themselves. However, with a little planning and preparation, even the most urban families will find that camping is an excellent way to build memories for a lifetime.
Here are 7 tips on planning and executing a fun family camping trip:
Start Short and Close
You don’t have to start out backpacking into the rugged wilderness to have an enjoyable campout. Start out with a simple overnight trip at the local campground. Since your family may be experiencing things like sleeping outside, shared bathrooms and campfire cooking for the first time, it’s best to take it slow. As their camping comfort levels (and yours) increase, you can extend the duration of the trips and choose new locations to enjoy.
Get the Right Gear
Most people that don’t like camping just don’t have the right equipment. From a sturdy tent to comfortable sleeping bags, chairs and cookware, the camping gear is going to make or break your trip. If you don’t have camping gear of your own, borrow from friends and family to see what you need to purchase for next time.
There’s no need for elaborate meals when camping with the family. Take advantage of the campfire and a camp stove and plan simple, one pot recipes. Examples of easy camping meals include hot dogs, macaroni and cheese, scrambled eggs, tin foil dinners, sandwiches, and of course, s’mores. Make cleanup even easier with disposable plates and utensils.
Keep It Simple
Camping is not complicated so don’t overdo it with clothes, food and entertainment. Simple meals taste great when eaten outdoors, and campers don’t need much in the way of amenities. Lots of toys, cooking gadgets, specialty food and several different outfits have no place in a family campsite. Camping is the best way to get back to basics and unclutter the mind, so if you can leave it home, do so.
Plan for the Weather
There’s nothing that can turn a camping trip sour than failing to prepare for the weather. Have a rain plan in place in case you get precipitation, and don’t forget small games and activities in case you are stuck in the tent during a downpour. Always have jackets and knit caps to stay comfortable on cooler nights. If the forecast is hot and sunny, make sure your campsite is surrounded by shady trees.
Have a Game Plan
While your kids will be happy to explore, hike and sing songs, there will be times where they complain about nothing to do. Always have a list of games and activities on hand so the fun times never end. Ideas include a scavenger hunt, build fairy or gnome houses, obstacle courses, camping bingo, card games and more.
Take Notes for Next Time
After your preliminary camping trip, take some time to write down what worked and what needed improvements. Think about ways to improve the experience for next time. Don’t forget to ask your kids what their least and most favorite parts were.
In no time at all, camping can become one of your family’s favorite summer activities. Camping provides a rare opportunity to spend quality time together, playing in the great outdoors and living the good life without all of life’s distractions. Not only is camping inexpensive and easy to do, but kids can definitely help you with planning and preparation to make it a true family affair.
by Jennifer Maughan