Summer is a great time to try family camping. Kids love it, and as long as you are prepared, family camping can be a great experience for all. Here are some ideas to help you make your family camping trip a success:
If you have small children, you’ll likely want a tent that is big enough for the entire family. With older kids, you may want to consider separate tents. I am excited that my kids are almost at the age where my husband and I can be in our own tent. When it comes to tent camping, it’s a good idea to practice setting it up in the backyard so it’s not your first try while camping. Especially if there is any rain, you don’t want to be struggling to set up a tent you have never used before.
Selecting a campsite
Research the type of campsite you might want. Do you want to rough it or be near amenities? Many campsites online offer comprehensive information about the area. This will also help you know what equipment, clothing, and food you’ll need to take. Some campsites have preset tents or even cabins so consider these options as well.
I recommend campsites near water. Kids love swimming, throwing rocks in a stream and seeing waterfalls. I planned an entire route around water stops. We stopped near ponds, oceans, lakes and streams. The kids loved it!
Food Storage & Cooking supplies
We typically bring the following: frying pan, a pot or two, a bucket (for washing dirty dishes), a small charcoal grill orcamping stove, Ziploc bags, cooking utensils and a mess kit for each of us (these include a plate, bowl, knife, fork, spoon and mug).
Meal Planning and Snacks
For food, I recommend packing the easy stuff like hot dogs, burgers, pasta, etc. Cereal is easy for the morning. Also bring water, a can opener, a kettle or coffee pot, and a cooler with plenty of ice. Don’t forget to plan on snacking a lot during the day. Kids get super hungry on day hikes. For a typical hike, I’ll pack a water, sandwiches, fruit, cheese sticks, mini carrots and something that is a bit sweet as a treat. Lately, I am loving Nut Exactly Snack Bites.
Making sure you pack appropriate clothing is key. Depending on your location, pack clothing that will match the weather, but bring layers. Select clothing that wicks moisture and dries quickly. Cotton is not a good choice. Evenings can often be quite cool if you are in a desert or wooded environment. Plan for rain and mud too. Rain ponchos are helpful as they cover nearly all of your clothing so you can still enjoy a hike. Bring extra socks and shoes in case your footwear gets wet. If long hikes will be involved, be sure the entire family has proper footwear.
Other camping essentials:
- Sleeping bags
- first aid kit
- cell phone with back up charger or car charger
- garbage bags
- toilet pater
- paper towels
- toiletries – shampoo, toothpaste, etc.
- ointments for bug bites, minor burns, cuts and scrapes
- a map of the area
- insect repellent
- games for the kids
Setting up your Tent
Hopefully you have practiced at home as I recommended above. Many campsites have a clear area where your tent is supposed to be set up. Ensure there are no rocks or debris where the tent will be set up. Most campgrounds will post warning signs or instructions regarding specific animals and vegetation. Pay careful attention to storing your food at night so you don’t invite unwanted animal guests. Some guests are pretty cute though!
While you are likely to run into some challenges, take a breath and enjoy the entire camping experience. Look at the stars and night. Listen to all of the natural sounds or your surroundings.
Stop and see things off the beaten path. We found some really interesting things just stopping in random towns along the way. Make it an adventure and see if you an find something you’ve never seen or done before. Relish the time you are spending with your family that will create lasting memories for your children.