Twice a year, my husband takes our children camping with a group of friends. The kids love it. Truly, what’s not to love? They learn all sorts of cool skills like starting a bonfire, erecting a tent, and making the best s’mores. They might wash their hands (maybe!) but certainly not the rest of themselves. Nobody cares! And they spend quality time with their father. They always say their favorite part of the trip is hanging around the campfire.
I completely understand why they love the campfire time. I too, enjoy that part of camping the most. Singing songs, telling jokes and stories is the best entertainment. Some of the stories were classic “tall tales” such as Paul Bunyan and Johnny Appleseed. They let the storyteller pass on little life lessons such as pushing oneself to succeed or to be kind to others. Even though we know these stories are fantastical, we still want to hear them, just as our kids love hearing them too.
I really can’t imagine a campfire without scary stories. Once again, we knew they weren’t true, but we would get that shiver up our backs all the same! Fortunately, all the fresh air and activities made us super tired, and we fell asleep before we could worry if the man with the hook for a hand was coming to get us!
What great memories we have made camping with our children. But, sometimes it’s nice to get away alone (or with your best pal!).
However, a successful camping trip takes some organization.
Style of Camping: You don’t have to live out in the wilds for a week to be “camping.” Pitching a tent in your own backyard or staying at an established campground for a night or two is a great way to start. The first campsite my husband took the kids to had running water. I thought it was camping for wimps, but my kids came home filthy, happy, and full of fun stories of their adventures. They were hooked on camping.
Activities: Canoeing, kayaking, hiking, bird-watching, geocaching and fishing are all great activities that will help you determine where you want to camp.
Groups to Join: Area clubs that camp together are another great way to join the fun.
Location: Backyards can be great, or check out this site for established camping opportunities and this site to reserve a campground. Here’s a great resource for free campsites. Remember to check for any guidelines or rules associated with your chosen campground.
Water: Bring more than you think you will need. If you are going to an area where taking enough water isn’t feasible, bring water purification tablets. Tip: Freeze water to keep your food cool, and then you can drink it as it melts.
Tent: If you don’t have one, borrow or rent from this site. Just make sure you reserve it at least 10 days in advance. Practice setting your tent up to make sure you understand the directions and to ensure you have all you need.
Sleeping Bag, Pad and Pillow: If taking a pillow is too much gear to carry, then use a pillow case and fill it with other clothing items to act as a pillow. (It’s called “roughing it.”)
Cooking Supplies: You don’t need much if you have prepped well. You will need the basics of a knife, cutting board, tongs/spatula, cooking grate/camp stove, a pot and plates plus utensils.
Matches: Keep them dry in a plastic or tin container.
Food: Meal planning is key. Dried foods such as rice and oatmeal travel better than canned or jarred ingredients. Look for recipes for things you can prep in advance, like kabobs and salads already prepped in bags. Bring just what you need so there won’t be waste or more to carry than necessary. Check out this site to learn how to pack your spices in straws. Pack the food in plastic containers to keep fresh and keep unwanted pests and animals out.
Flashlight: Besides finding your way around at night, a rousing game of flashlight tag is super fun!
Bug Spray and Sunscreen: Getting bitten by mosquitoes and flies or having a nasty sunburn is no one’s idea of fun.
First Aid Kit: Even the shortest trip might require Band-Aids and first aid ointment.
Rain Gear: Hope you won’t you need it, but just in case …
Toilet Paper, Paper Towels and Trash Bags: Dispose of waste appropriately.
Cards and Other Fun: We played card games on many of our trips. Consider bringing fishing rods, a Frisbee and/or a ball. All sorts of games and activities can be enjoyed when we don’t have electronics to distract us. It’s the simple things, like beating everyone at hearts, that your kids will remember.
Map of the Stars and Constellations: It’s special to point out the Big Dipper and Ursa Major to your kids. Download and print out a kid-friendly (and parent) cheat sheet.
Want to spread your love of camping to a child who wouldn’t ordinarily get the opportunity? Make a donation to SCOPE (Summer Camp Opportunities Promote Education). Transform a child’s life.
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