Camping is a wonderful way for families to work together and enjoy each other away from the stresses of work and school. You need to plan ahead and be prepared, but all the work will be worth it. You might not have electricity during the trip, but if you bring the essentials and think simply, you will not be bothered by not having some modern conveniences. Years later, you and your family will remember fondly all the time you spent around a campfire laughing, singing, and telling stories.
Depending on your budget and the amount of people going camping, you have to decide what style and size of tent or camper to buy or rent. Dome-style tents can be set up easily and have few pieces. Although a camper is more expensive, they attach easily to the trailer hitch of a car and have pull-out beds, a stove, refrigerator, sink, dining table and drawers for dishes, etc. They can sleep six and you don’t have to worry about leaks in a rain storm.
If you have a tent, spray it with rain-resistant spray and buy a tarp to put over the top for shade. Make sure the tent is large enough for everyone to sleep comfortably and for the baggage. Foam pieces or air mattresses work well to sleep comfortably and are more compact than extra blankets.
Don’t pack too much. Two sets of clothes are enough for a four-day trip. Bring one warm sweater, a light jacket, a couple of shirts, shorts, pants, extra underwear, socks, and two pairs of shoes. If you plan on hiking, bring a pair of hiking boots that fit over your ankles for ankle support. Bring a large basin so you can wash clothes and small children. A clothes line and ten clothes pins will also be needed.
If you have a tent you’ll need a couple of coolers packed with ice for perishables. Try to bring mostly non-refrigerated food like bread and nuts. Don’t allow the children to eat large quantities at one sitting since they’ll want to do a lot of exploring and swimming. Small meals will keep up their energy and eliminate stomach aches.
Plan a menu before you go and have the kids help choose the foods they want. This way you’ll save time at the campsite deciding what to make and you can plan how much food will be enough. Keep the meals simple like hamburgers and hot dogs. If you want to avoid bringing a lot of utensils and food, you can always eat out one night at a close-by restaurant.
Bring toys and books and games for the kids. Create a play area for them near the tent or camper. Pack a frisbee, soccer ball, and baseball equipment so the whole family can play.
Include the children in helping set up the campsite, doing the dishes and laundry, and making a fire. They will feel important for working beside the adults and will gain confidence from their accomplishments. Even if they create a mess that requires more work for the adults, remember they learn not only by watching but also by doing.
Don’t set up a rigid schedule where every minute of each day is planned. Let the children have plenty of time to play and rest. Avoid boredom by taking walks, swimming, flower hunting or bring along a boat or canoe and fishing poles. Just because you spent time planning the campsite and setting it up doesn’t mean you have to spend every second there. Just remember to have a good time, relax, and avoid television!
Tips to keep in mind:
1. Decide if a tent or camper is best for your economic and spatial needs.
2. Buy a tarp and rain-resistant spray for a tent if yours doesn’t have a rain fly; foam pieces and air mattresses work great for comfortable sleeping.
3. Bring appropriate clothing and pack light; bring along a large basin for washing clothes and small children; don’t forget the clothes line and clothes pins.
4. Pack a first aid kit.
5. Don’t serve children large portions of food during the day since they’ll want to swim and hike.
6. Plan a menu before you go; keep the meals simple.
7. Bring lots of toys and create a play area for the children.
8. Things like a frisbee, soccer ball, and baseball equipment can be used for the entire family.
9. Have the children help out setting up the campsite, doing dishes and laundry, and making a fire so you’re not doing all the work.
10. Don’t set up a rigid schedule; plan enough outings to keep everyone happy but not stressed.