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Let’s Go Camping!

Spring is the perfect time to explore nature. A beautiful day in the woods or by the water can transition into a perfect night of sleeping under the stars. All it takes is planning and a willingness to “rough it” for just a little while. The rewards are a backpack full of memories for you and a deeper love of nature for your child’s lifetime. 

Make a Plan 
As the motto goes, always be prepared. Plan from the minute you leave your house to the minute you leave your campsite – and plan for as many unforeseen circumstances as possible.

•    Research where you’d like to stay. You may discover several options, so talk about
     the possibilities with the family and let majority rule.
•    Remember, you’ll want to spend as much time at your camping area as possible,
     especially if you’re staying just one night. Try to find a location that won’t mean too
     long of a car ride.
•    Get driving directions and maps of the area and take them with you!
•    Research the area where you’re going to stay. Make a list of possible activities,
     including “rainy day” alternatives.
•    Call for campsite reservations well in advance.
•    Plan every meal and snack for the entire trip. Keep a checklist and use it to be sure
     you have what you need before you leave – and when you arrive.
•    Make a checklist of supplies and items you’ll need. Don’t forget matches, bug spray,
     a first aid kit and sunscreen!
•    Don’t leave shopping for the last minute. That just leads to missed items or
     impulse buys.

Stay Organized
Avoid spreading everything out by knowing what you brought and where it is. Then keep it together throughout your stay.

•    Use plastic containers with lids and keep similar items together – like cooking utensils
     or sleeping gear.
•    Use different size containers to eliminate over-packing (keep spices in a small
     container, for example, and pots/pans in a larger one).
•    Place a packing list or label on each container.
•    When anyone removes an item from a container, be sure they return it to the right
     container when they’re done.

Reinforce Good Behavior 
Camping is no different than other social activities. Encourage your family to be courteous and considerate of others.

•    Speak quietly and keep outbursts to a minimum after lights out
•    Be careful with your camp fire. Don’t let it get too big or too long-lasting.
•    Avoid walking through anyone else’s campsite.
•    Pick up your garbage and take it to the appropriate dumping area, either throughout
     your stay or before you leave.
•    Don’t encourage wild animals to forage at your site by leaving food exposed. Keep
     all food in closed containers at all times.
•    Give kids chores that keep them engaged and allow them to explore the differences
     between home and camping. They may not have to sweep the kitchen floor at home,
     but they’ll have to pick up trash and objects from the campsite after every meal!

Make it Relaxing Fun
•    Share responsibilities and divide the work, rotating tasks among everyone
     throughout the trip.
•    Don’t let one person do everything. Encourage children to help with bigger/adult
     tasks like setting up the tents or building the fire. This gives kids an opportunity
     to discover the full experience of camping.
•    If you’re more inclined to stay at the campsite while everyone else goes hiking,
     bring a quiet activity like a book so you don’t get bored.
•    Plan for open time throughout the day for individual down time, sole exploration
     or just hanging out as a family and talking.
•    Well-planned meals mean everyone’s happy and well-fed. Keep up with your plan
     and make sure you build in enough time to cook what you planned for.
•    Be ready for the unexpected and embrace the change in plans. After all, this is
     all about fun, learning and exploring the world as a family.

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