Camping is more than delicious s’mores and warm campfires, it’s also one of the best ways to bond with family and friends. Think back to the first time you went camping – there are probably some memories you still hold close, ones that helped shape your view on the benefits of being outdoors.
Camping is a rite of passage that our children can grow and learn from. The outdoors teaches children to be confident in their abilities, trust in their knowledge, and above all, have fun with the time they have.
We all know that life happens and expecting a perfect camping trip is a silly thought. However, there are a few things that we can do to help influence a more positive outcome.
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Picking a place
The most fun and exciting part of the pre-trip adventure is choosing the destination.
Do you want somewhere mountainous? Somewhere near a lake?
The location of your campsite decides what activities you have available, so pick a place that your whole family can enjoy.
Keep in mind what season of the year it is, too. Some geographic locations experience drastic weather changes in certain seasons. For example, a state like Texas is prone to various weather conditions on a day-to-day basis in the springs.
What to pack
Do your research on the climate you will be camping in so you bring the right gear. It’s important to know how cold the temperature will be at night because sleeping on the ground is much colder than sleeping in a bed.
Next, you’ll want to pack the items that will keep your family safe and sound. This includes a first-aid kit and fire-starting materials, like wood, matches, and kindling.
Once you have the essentials, you can pack to your heart’s content. Whether you are glamping or minimalist survival camping, bring something to stay entertained if weather conditions take a turn for a few hours.
If you need suggestions for what to bring, check out our Packing List for Camping. Here’s a quick list to get you started:
- Gas/propane stove
- Trash bags
- Reusable utensils
- Reusable cookware
- Food (pre-cooked dinners that you can heat up are best)
- Pack of cards
- Pocket knife
- Foldable camping chairs
- Pop-up shade canopy
You can use your discretion when preparing for your camping trip. Some of these items are for true campers who are trekking out into the wilderness while others are for comfy campers, but the idea is to bring what will make you happiest while you’re away from home.
Prepare for the drive
Every great journey begins with the first step and when it comes to camping, the first step is the drive there.
Preparing your family for the fun adventures ahead is easy. Make sure the car has its share of snacks, toys, and movies and you will have a smooth ride.
If you want to unplug your kids a little sooner, teach them license plate games or bring up fun facts about the area you will be camping in.
What activities do you have planned?
Family activities are abundant when you camp because everything is a new experience. Your children have seen nature in their day-to-day life they haven’t seen it while camping.
When they are out camping, waking up, and going to bed on a plot of land they’ve never seen, every experience will be seen through a new lens – and sleeping outdoors has tremendous benefits, too.
When it comes to planning activities, you really don’t have to overthink it. To help you out, we’ve put together a little list of popular activities to help you pass the time and grow together.
Popular family camping activities include:
- Go on a nature walk
- Cook food over the campfire
- Tell stories
- Play flashlight tag
- Make leaf prints
- Create rock pets
- Look up at the stars
- Skip stones
Anything can be a great family activity if you enjoy the time you are spending together, instead of focusing on the outcomes. Teaching your kids this lesson will help them understand that it’s okay if the s’more doesn’t turn out perfect, it’s still a gooey, chocolately treat to enjoy.
Families that cook together, stay together. Especially when the meals are easy to make and easy to clean up after.
That’s why it’s usually better to pack items that can be easily stored for long periods of time, like fruit and prepackaged foods. Precooking your meals is a smart way to save time and space in your cooler, too.
While you are cooking the main portion of the meal, try to give your kids something to do to help contribute. They can husk corn, cook potatoes, or help pack food in aluminum for quick meals.
We recommend bringing your own propane stove or cast iron cookware and a grate for campfire cooking.
The best way to ensure a good camping experience is to lead by example. Children are easily influenced and when they are out in nature, away from electronics, you’ll have ample opportunity to make impressions.
Instead of showing frustration in a less than perfect moment, introduce a positive way to look at the situation. Your child will appreciate seeing your patience and will learn to invite it into their life. Learning healthy coping mechanisms for stress is a big factor in leading a happy quality of life.
Camping is all about being one with nature and learning from the immense peace it provides. With these tips and advice, you’ll be able to create meaningful memories that will bring your family together for years to come.
Andee is a recent college graduate from Arizona State University with a love of writing, the outdoors, and funky cafes. You can usually find her hiking or planning her next trip. She is passionate about traveling, frugal living, her family, and the perfect cup of coffee. Follow her on instagram: @andee_schmidt
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