My daughters are begging to go camping, and the begging began well over a year ago. I have been thinking it's time to give in. I have fond memories of camping as a child, but I also know that it wasn’t all s’mores and swimming for my parents. Camping is hard work, folks. To make it more enjoyable for parents and children, try these tips.
1. Do a Practice Run
If your kids have never been camping and are young, you should really consider doing a practice run before booking a campsite for a week. Set up your tent in the yard and spend the night in the wilderness of your neighborhood with a clean bed and bathroom just feet away. Not only will this help you decide if your kids can handle a night outside in a tent, but you’ll be able to make a quick list of all of the items you wish you had for your night in the great outdoors. For example: air mattresses.
2. Pack for Every Kind of Weather
Unless you live in the North, you probably don’t need to pack for snow, but you should have the right gear handy for hot weather, rainy weather, windy weather, or unseasonably cold weather — especially at night. Make sure sleeping bags are good for the right cold weather depending on where you’re camping. And while you need to pack for all kinds of weather, don’t overpack. Seems impossible, but if you think in terms of layers, you’ll pack less. And don’t worry about all those “just in case” outfits you bring when you stay in a hotel. You’re camping. Dirt and food are supposed to be all over your kids, and you.
3. Get There Early
There’s nothing worse than trying to set up your campsite at night. Pack everything you can the day before you leave and make sure to get out the door early so you have plenty of time to set everything up and still have a bit of fun afterward. Being able to climb right into your sleeping bags when the sun has set will be a great blessing for your tired family.
4. Learn How to Build a Campfire
You might want to learn how to build a campfire – and put one out – ahead of your trip. It’s easier than you think, but you do need to have a plan.
5. Pack Some Fun
There may be rain on your trip or moments when your children are actually bored, if you can imagine that! Pack books to read and board games to play. A deck of cards will also come in handy for some family bonding, and you can finally teach your children how to play Gin.
6. Don’t Stay Up Too Late
Your children are going to wake up with the sun and the birds. Make sure they still get to bed at their usual time to avoid all the crankiness that comes with not getting enough sleep.
7. Get the Proper Gear
Love the Outdoors has this handy checklist you can print so you make sure you have all the essentials for your camping trip. Try to leave the gadgets at home, but we totally understand if you bring them.