Camping with the Kids

A weekend outing can be fun and relaxing -- but camping trips require careful planning.

By FamilyTime


Camping with the kids can be lots of fun. Many families think fondly of camping trips as among the best vacations ever. The type of camping excursion you choose depends on the ages of the children, their experience, and the amount of time your family can take. An overnight at a nearby state park is enough for very young children and first-time campers, while a week-long backpacking trip may appeal more to teenagers with camping experience.

Choose a Location
Call local parks and read local guide books to determine where you can camp overnight. Most families find "car camping" is easiest--you drive right up to your campsite.

Getting ready to go camping is a major undertaking. When you have done it once, it gets easier. Keep a checklist and add to it as you become more experienced. See Camping Gear Checklist.

Beyond the basics of sleeping bags and tents, you will need food, extra clothing, lighting, cooking equipment, and first aid supplies. Add to this list sporting equipment, hiking gear, and games for rainy days.

Camping equipment ranges from elaborate to simple. Invest in a good tent (make sure it's rainproof) and quality sleeping bags. Buy a sturdy cook stove (most are propane fired) unless you are determined to cook over wood. Have reliable lanterns and flashlights.

Nothing ruins a camping trip as quickly as rain. Pack extra clothing and quality rain gear. Pack everything in plastic containers or large plastic bags. This is particularly important for food, matches, and clothing. Take along an extra tarp or inexpensive plastic drop cloths.

Make reservations at the campground to avoid disappointment. Make sure the space allotted is large enough for your tent and family. Ask about hookups, bathroom facilities, if pets are allowed, and activities. Some are more rustic than others.

Be considerate of your neighbors. Keep music and lights low. Only collect wood in designated areas. Put out the fire completely. Clean up when you leave.