A search for valuable family time can be found in tent camping.
Tent camping remains a popular choice for family fun especially during the summer months. Although there are various styles of camping, tent camping is a great idea for the budget-conscious family eager to enjoy the outdoors.
It is easy enough to grab a tent, sleeping bags and some hotdogs. Just load everyone and everything into your van and drive to the nearest campground. But you will need more to make it the best camping experience your family will remember.
Whether you are an experienced camper or not, here are 10 things you need for a memorable camping experience.
1. Location: Choose the right campground for your family.
If your family enjoys water fun, select a campground that is near the beach or a water park. If you are more into wildlife walks and hiking, find a campground near a provincial park that offers hiking trails. For the active family, many campgrounds include leisure facilities like swimming pools, badminton and volleyball courts. Attached to some amusement parks are campgrounds and give campers dual access. An example of this is Darien Lake in New York http://staydarienlake.com/campsite/.
Your spot or campsite in the campground is important too. Decide if you need one with electric power and water supply or if you prefer roughing it out. You might need to be near the public toilet or prefer to be farthest from the crowd for quiet time.
Suggestion corner: Check your country’s official park website for park details like location, registration and facilities:
In Canada, visit Parks Canada http://www.pc.gc.ca/
In the U.S., visit U.S. National Parks Service at http://www.nps.gov/
2. Clothing: Pack clothes for the right occasion.
Only bring the clothes suitable to the weather and activities you plan to do. Leave your valuables and branded clothes at home. Select the clothes that you won’t fret over if accidentally ruined or left behind. Post a list of suggested items and how many pieces of clothing your children can pack. (A handy tool for this is your white board.) In extreme cases, some campgrounds or the nearest town do offer laundry service.
Suggestion corner: Pack items like shorts, track pants, t-shirts, tank tops, hoodie or light jacket, bathing suit, flip-flops, running shoes, and underwear. Bring a clothesline and pins to dry your wet items.
3. Food: Pack and plan easy-to-prepare meals.
Remember, you will be outdoors and with limited supplies. Think of meals that will be easy to prepare and serve. The designated cook also wants to have fun and not spend the entire time cooking.
Suggestion corner: Make the first meal store-bought or pre-cooked from home to have more time to set up camp. Grilled food like fish, barbecue, vegetables and corn are perfect for the outdoors. Keep all food locked in your car at night away from pests and rodents. Bring snacks like fruits, cookies and some munchies. Active kids are always hungry!
4. Company: Family fun is doubled when shared with friends.
Children always welcome playing with other kids. Invite close family or friends to be your campsite neighbours. Camping with multiple families has its advantages. Adults can take turns with child-minding and meal preparations.
Suggestion corner: If your children are old enough, they may enjoy a tent sleep over or a designated tent as a play area. As the saying goes, “the more the merrier.”
5. Activities: Prepare activities that everyone will enjoy.
Tent camping in the outdoors provides a chance to enjoy wide open spaces perfect for many physical games and activities. Organizing active games will help wean your children from their electronic devices too.
Exploring the town or locale can be educational and a treat even for the adults. Summertime often comes with local festivals and farmer’s markets that you can join in.
Every camping trip is not complete without a campfire. Gathering around it to sing songs, exchange silly or scary stories and roasting marshmallows is always a camping highlight.
Suggestion corner: Create a friendly competition among yourselves by teams (e.g. Girls vs. Boys, Adults vs. Children or Family vs. Family). A scavenger hunt is another game everyone can take part in.
6. Rules: Know the campground rules.
Generally, there is a quiet time to observe. Sleeping in the outdoors does not mean losing your manners. Keep your campsite clean of trash and respect others. Do not trespass on another campsite as a shortcut. Make sure that all campers with you are aware of the rules.
Suggestion corner: Bring lots of garbage bags and segregate trash from the recyclable on your site. It will be easier to dispose of garbage later on.
7. Camping Gear: Always check your camping gear ahead of time.
Make a quick checklist of the things you need to bring and tick them off as you pack them up. If you are a regular camper, always clean your gear before storage. It will be ready to toss in your car for the next trip.
Suggestion corner: Aside from the basic camping gear, bring outdoor gear and toys your children might enjoy like soccer or volleyball, scooters, bubbles and sticks for toasting marshmallows.
8. Health and Safety: Be ready for emergencies.
Always bring a first aid kit and bring an extra supply of any prescription medication. Sun block lotion and insect repellent will come in handy. Teach campers from wandering off alone. Create a buddy system for everyone and always have an adult with young children.
If you are the nature lovers, know what plants and animals to avoid on walks and hikes. Remind children that safety comes first.
Suggestion corner: Invest or borrow some walkie-talkie to keep track of each other. Dress kids in bright colors to spot them faster from afar.
9. Making Memories: A great family trip deserves to be cherished.
Dream vacation or not, remember to document your experience through photos or videos. Nowadays, there is a lot of equipment that is very easy to use. If you want to leave the expensive camera at home, disposable cameras can be used even by the young children.
Young children can help by drawing pictures or making a collage of a favourite camping experience. You can frame it after the trip.
Suggestion corner: Take some candid photos or wacky, action pictures to remind you of your family outings. You can create a scrapbook or a digital photo book.
10. Feedback: Listen to your family’s opinions.
When planning your trip, ask your family for their expectations and suggestions. After your trip, get their opinion on their best and worst parts of their experience.
Suggestion corner: Laugh! Even when things go wrong, it’s all part of learning and there is always a next time.