Summer vacation is almost over and there is time for at least one campout. Camping is one of the best ways to create family memories. There’s nothing like sitting around a campfire in the evening telling stories and waking up to a home cooked breakfast in the morning. Some of my favorite memories growing up are of when my family and three or four other families camped together at the campground. There were anywhere from eight to ten kids and we had a blast. Once we had a scavenger hunt through the campground and we always rode bicycles, played card games and then sang songs as we walked through the campground after dark.
My husband and I both loved to camp and for our first vacation after we married we camped in the Smokey Mountains. We invested in a tent and camping gear and when our boys were very young we began taking them camping. We had a campout alone as a family, with other families and with our church. Sometimes we went to the lake campgrounds or the river but, our boys even had a campout in the back yard. It is a great way to have a fun sleep over boys birthday party.
So, I know a lot of adults say their idea of camping is at hotel overlooking the lake and ordering room service. However, what kid doesn’t love to use blankets and chairs to make a tent. The problem with only taking hotel vacations is you never get away from the television, cell phones or X-box. You really don’t have to buy all the gear to have one awesome experience. You can borrow a tent, camp stove and lantern from a friend, rent a cabin(no t.v.) or declare an electronic free night and sleep under the stars on your own back porch. Even if you decide to buy a tent and the basics it will be less expensive than a hotel room for two nights!
Okay, I’m going to assume you are thinking a form of camping is an option so I’m going to divulge my tips for making it really simple.
- Take plenty of flashlights for everyone with fresh batteries and some extras. Headlamps work best for small children so it points where they are looking.
- Prep all the food items you are going to take before you leave. Freeze as many as you can. (I will give specific recipes and tips in the next post)
- If you have never been on a campout before it’s loads of fun to go with another family. The biggest issue is to have some planned activities so kids aren’t bored. For daytime take gear for swimming, fishing, hula hoops, bicycles, and other outdoor activities. Take games that you can play by the light of a lantern such as cards, Yahtzee or Dominos. Reading books is a good option if it’s too cool to go in the water.
- It may seem obvious to many but there is no toilet paper or soap at a campground so bring your own. You can make a hand washing station out of an empty detergent bottle that has a spigot. Use a bungee cord or a rope to attach a paper towel holder to the top. There are usually water spigots throughout a campground but your site may not be near one. http://http://www.ehhd.org/filestorage/101/308/hand_wash_station_example.jpg
- Take plenty of drinking water and jugs of water for cooking. You can freeze water in jugs to put in your cooler with your food instead of ice and it will keep the food from getting wet. Then use those jugs for your cooking and drinking water. Take a second cooler with ice for drinks.
- When you book a camping site, ( I recommend doing this as we have gone camping spur of the moment before without a reservation and the campground was full) it is important to ask what services are available. Some have bath houses where there are showers. Some campgrounds have a store where you can get ice and firewood. *To make fire starters you can roll up some newspapers loosely and tie them with string or put charcoal briquettes in a cardboard egg carton.
- If you are borrowing or renting a tent or pop up tent and you don’t want to invest in sleeping bags you can buy inexpensive blow up air mattresses and cover them with a comforter or quilt to lay on. Bring extra sheets and blankets for covering. Socks to sleep in will keep you comfortable all night. To keep your bedding clean in a tent bring a throw rug, carpet scrap or old towel to put just outside the tent door.
- You never want to take a gas or kerosene lantern into a tent. An inexpensive way to have a little light when you are settling in to bed is to take a gallon water jug and put a headlamp around it and point the lamp towards the jug. It will emit a hands free glow. Glow sticks in a jar or 2 liter filled with water will also work but you can’t turn them off when you are ready.
- And of course, don’t forget the bug spray, sunscreen and folding or lounge chairs.
So I covered all the basics for camping for beginners. If you decide your family is well suited to camping and you want to camp more often or if you are planning a full week of camping you may want to invest in a few other items to make your experience great! I would suggest going to Bass Pro Shops or visiting www.basspro.com.
In the next post I will share my easy inexpensive tips to have great food while camping and still have time for the cook to have fun!
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- Family Camping Safety Tips (allstate.com)
- Day 65: Camping Out Close to Home (yearofthedad.wordpress.com)
- Don’t Let Camping Scare You – Here’s How To Enjoy Your Time Away (creativerecreations.wordpress.com)
- Living Well: 23 Secrets To Cooking on a Campfire (designmom.com)
- Camping on a budget (simplyhike.co.uk)
- How to pick a good campsite (allfamilycamping.wordpress.com)