Camping with Kids – Family Friendly Camping: Easy Steps for Planning a Family Camping Trip
Camping is a great family activity, especially when the weather warms up in the Spring and Summer. It’s nice to get outside and have some activities that the family can do together. But there are many things to consider when planning a camping trip.
First, how much do you want to ‘rough it?’ Campgrounds can range from undeveloped – which is basically making a camp site in the wilderness, to glamping, which involves luxury outdoor accommodations. Most families fall somewhere in the middle. If you have an aversion to pit toilets (outhouses), or must have a hot shower every day, you’ll want to make sure that your choice of campground has those facilities. Many also have wood-floored tent cabins, or even actual cabins for rent, especially at our National Parks. One important point – if you plan on taking pets camping, make sure they’re allowed at your chosen location. Dogs are allowed most places, but there may be restricted areas. Also, if there is a local health issue, like bacteria in the water, they may not be permitted. You definitely want to double check before you go.
How long do you want to take for your camping trip?
If this is your first experience camping, a weekend is a good place to start. Choose a location that’s not too far from home, and plan to arrive in daylight for set-up. If you have experience camping, you might be able to go three or four days. You’ll want to be sure to have an alternate plan. If the weather gets bad, someone gets sick, or something else happens that cuts the camping portion of your trip short, what are you going to do? Are you going home, to a hotel to enjoy the rest of your time, or are you going to remain, with everyone, wet and cold and miserable?
Next, what equipment do you own that can be used for your trip?
Just about everybody has a cooler, but is it large enough to hold all the food and beverages that need to stay cold? Do you know people that are avid campers or outdoorsmen? Perhaps you can borrow some of the things you might need for camping before investing in them. Maybe you have a friend that has a trailer or RV that you can use. Start a checklist of what you need to take on your trip, and then you can keep track of what you can borrow and what you’ll have to purchase.
What are you going to eat?
Decide on meals – and plan extra. There’s something about being outdoors and being active that seems to bring out the appetite of everyone. Don’t forget to pack plenty of snacks, and even if you bring canned soda, throw some packs of pre-sweetened Kool-Aid or other beverage options in your food pantry. It doesn’t take up much space, easy to make, and adds another option to your meals. If you’re going to the lake, and plan on catching your dinner, plan for the distinct possibility that you may not have enough fish to feed everyone for dinner. If you’re a coffee drinker, don’t forget to plan for your cuppa joe each morning: Enjoying Hot Coffee when Camping
Have a trial run at home. Pick a weekend several weeks before your planned vacation, and set up camp in your backyard. Set up the tents, stoves, table and chairs, lanterns, a cooking area, and whatever else you plan on bringing. Make sure you know how to use all the equipment safely, and that you and you kids are comfortable and have enough space to sleep. Plan on spending the night in your tent, cooking meals on your cook stove, etc. This will give you a good sense of how long it will take to set up, break down, and meal preparation your campsite. Finally, this will also give you a sense of what your kids can help with, and who enjoys certain tasks. You’ll also want to pack all of the equipment In your car, so you know how much space you need, or how much space you have.
Get Everyone Involved
Finally, get your entire family involved. Assign tasks for everyone to perform. Even small children can help with keeping trash picked up, gathering kindling for a fire, or thin sticks for roasting marshmallows and hot dogs. Older kids can help with fire building, meal preparation, camp setup and breakdown, and water hauling.
Camping should be relaxing and enjoyable for the entire family. With some planning and cooperation your trip will be fun for the entire family. Do you have any other easy steps for planning a family camping trip?