It has been years since my husband and I went camping but our kids have never enjoyed family camping fun. While getting away from the hustle and bustle of city life is one of the reasons families choose to go camping, for kids – it’s the ultimate adventure. A few days before we left, I created a camping checklist to tick off and make sure we had everything we needed as we headed out the door.
If you are planning a family camping trip this summer, here are a few tips that will help make you vacation both a safe and fun experience.
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1. Pre-camping preparation.
If you have small children, you may want to select a tent that will accommodate all of you comfortably. If you are camping with older children, especially teenagers, it may be a good idea to purchase additional pup tents to give them some sense of independence. Just make sure the camping spot you choose allows multiple tents on one site.
Another great tip is to practice assembling the tents in your backyard so as to avoid wasting time at the camp site. When we purchase a brand new tent, we set it up in the back yard and do a couple of things. First we soak it with the water hose and let it sit overnight. This helps shrink the seams and waterproof your tent. Then for good measure, we spray all the seams with a seam sealant to ensure it is water tight and won’t leak if it rains.
Setting your tent up at home first also lets you check everything to make sure you aren’t missing any poles. You wouldn’t want to be stranded at the campsite with half a tent! It’s also a good time to make sure all your gear fits inside properly without being too cramped.
2. Selecting a campsite.
Depending upon whether you decide to “rough it” or choose a campsite that is close to amenities, you can research the many campsites online that offer comprehensive information on the area. This will enable you to decide not only what equipment, clothing, and food you need to take, but the available hiking areas and points of interest as well.
Ensure that the campsite you select is an official campsite area. Especially if you are camping in the mountains or near state parks. There are specific areas that are designated for camping and others may be off limits. So do your research before setting up camp. Moreover, when researching camping sites it’s a good idea to look for those areas that are on the high ground. Thus, if it rains, your tent and equipment will not become water logged.
We will probably won’t choose primitive camping for our first time out with the kids. I think it will be better to take them to a place that at least has a nearby bathhouse on their first time out. Electricity isn’t a must have but going to the potty in the middle of the night with small kids is much easier with a toilet nearby!
3. Make a checklist.
I’m the queen of making lists! I make a list for everything and even have a basic “vacation checklist” for when we head to the mountains to rent a cabin and will do the same for our camping trip. I edit it as needed and then print it out and put it in my vacation binder. This is very important to ensure you do not forget anything on your camping trip. Among the items on your checklist, some of the more important items you will need are:
- Cooking gear such as a frying pan, a few pots, a bucket, barbecue grill or stove, bags with a Ziploc, and cooking utensils. In addition, food containers and canned goods are best. It is also recommended that you prepare meals at home and package them in containers for the trip. Also bring water, a can opener, hot water kettle and coffee pot, and a cooler with a block of ice.
- Packing the appropriate clothing is also essential. Depending upon the location, wearing light layers is a good idea as well as packing some sweaters and jackets for the evening hours. Extra socks, hats, and gloves may also be warranted. If you intend to engage in some hiking, proper hiking boots are necessary.
- Sleeping bags, first aid kit, flashlights, cell phone, garbage bags, toiletries, sunscreen, ointments, a map of the area, insect repellent, games for the kids, and rainwear.
- Don’t forget the marshmallows!!!
- Check out our camping must-haves here.
There are many camping websites that offer tons of suggestions on camping necessities.
I’ve also created a camping checklist that you can save to your computer. There is a notes section where you can add your own items. Mark out items you don’t need. Then print and check off your list as you pack!
4. At The Campsite.
When you reach the camp site, choose an area to set up the tents. 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. FOLLOW THEM! Those rules and guidelines are there for a reason!
5. Preparing The Campfire.
When preparing a campfire, if appropriate, ensure that it is set up further away from the tents. Also, when traveling out of state, you are not to bring your own wood from home. Instead, purchase firewood in the state you are traveling to. This ensures you aren’t bringing in non-native pests that may destroy the surrounding area. After you have roasted the marshmallows, sang songs, and told ghost stories; douse the fire before going to bed.
6. Love Thy nature.
Take care of your campsite. Clean up and trash or debris you create. Nature is extremely beautiful but we have to take care of it. I’ve been to some places where the people before of didn’t give a hoot about anything natural. They had evidently partied like it was their last and left tons of beer bottles and trash behind. Really, it doesn’t take much effort to pick up after yourself and leave the area just like you found it. Then you can enjoy it for years to come!
7. Enjoy The Locals.
Depending on where you decide to camp out, there may be several local activities to choose from while you are on your camping trip. One place we went to in the past had an outdoor amphitheater. They played a fun little movie for the kids. We were young adults but we loved it too. There was also fishing and a designated swimming area as well as hiking trails.
Some places we’ve been not only have hiking and fishing but they also have local historic areas like old Forts and villages, mills, etc. If you are in the Appalachian area, you may find Bluegrass music festivals and seasonal festivals with amazing foods and folklore. Taking your kids on a tour of the area will provide a great history lesson.
Finally, just enjoy the entire camping experience. Sleeping under the stars, communing with nature, and relishing the time spent with family will not only bring a family closer together, but the memories of this experience will last forever. There’s nothing better than some good ole’ family camping fun!
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