With camping growing in popularity among millennials and young parents alike, it may be in the back of your mind to give it a try. While camping can be an entirely rewarding experience for young families, providing a time to bond and tune into one another and out of technology, done poorly it can be a recipe for disaster, ending in fights, tears and potential injury. Take these tips as you plan your first camping experience to ensure your family the best camping trip possible.
Don’t Overdue It
The first time you go camping, there’s no reason to overdue things — as in, there’s no need to go out and buy multiple state-of-the-art tents, all the latest camping gadgets and everything you imagine you may need to create a glamping paradise, all to pack it up and drag it far away to that one camping destination you saw on Instagram. It’s your first time; take it easy. It’s going to be a little overwhelming and more gear means more complications and more that could go wrong. Stick with a basic tent and other supplies and an easy-to-get-to camping spot not too far from home. You’ll thank yourself after it takes you longer than expected to set up, the kids are hungry and you just want to sit by a roaring campfire.
Don’t Forget the Basic Necessities
While you can forget the fancy cabana and lounge chaise, you can’t forget the bare necessities you often take for granted. Silverware, salt and pepper for cooking, paper towels or dishcloths, garbage bags — think of everything you need to cook, shower, sleep and live comfortably that you likely use throughout your daily life without even realizing it.
Don’t Feel Pressured
Don’t feel like you have to go extreme wilderness camping just because you see it on social media or someone at your office hikes 20 miles into the wilderness once a month to lose all human contact for a weekend. Go with the level of seclusion that makes you feel most comfortable. Maybe you prefer to have fellow campers nearby. Perhaps you would prefer indoor plumbing and a hot shower each day.
State parks and privately owned campgrounds are great spots for new campers, because they often offer electricity at each campsite, bath houses for toilets and showers and some level of security. You’ll also often be surrounded by plenty of helpful and friendly campers who are typically more than happy to lend you a hand getting your fire started or gathering up your equipment during a sudden rainstorm. State parks generally allow you to pick your own campsite during reservation as well so you can choose to be as close to or as far from other campsites as you like.
Plan Family Activities
There’s nothing worse than going camping, getting set up, sitting around and looking at one another and then thinking — now what? While it can be freeing to lose WiFi for a while, it can also make you a little panicky. What are you supposed to do with your hands when your phone doesn’t work? Plan ahead to avoid boredom, whether you’re lounging at the campsite between hikes or stuck in your tent due to bad weather. Card games, coloring books, chapter books, easy-to-clean toys, chalk, bubbles or even a book on bird watching or tree identification — items like these can all help keep every camper in your crew happy.