I come from a family that camps. Not in a RV or even pop-up camper, but good old fashioned tent camping. If you have never been tent camping, the idea of doing so may be a bit daunting. Thoughts of insects, bears, no air conditioning or flush toilet right outside your tent door doesn’t necessarily sound like a fun family outing to everyone. However the truth is camping in a tent with your family can be a very positive experience that will leave you with memories to last a lifetime. Here are a few tips I have learned to live by in my years of camping.
One Night Only
When it comes to tent camping, my rule is one night is enough. This rule came about after a childhood experience when we tried for two nights and were hit by a thunderstorm on night one. Not only did we fear for our lives that a tree may come crashing down on us, but the tent flooded and we spent the next day at a laundromat drying out our sleeping bags. So now – one night only. No matter what you encounter you know you will be home in your bed the next night!
Keep the Food Simple
My dad liked to make beef stew when we went camping. Though it was tasty, it took forever to cook and my brother and I may have whined a bit while waiting. So now when we go camping we keep it basic with hot dogs and maybe some fresh fruit, chips and salsa. Dessert is always s’mores and we bring a box of donuts for breakfast. Not particularly healthy, but for one night, once a year, it is a night treat.
Put the Kids to Work
Even though you are out in the wilderness, your kids may have brought their favorite electronics along, which somewhat defeats the point of camping. Make a plan to keep your kids busy around the campsite. They can help put up the tent, fill the air mattresses, and look for kindling wood or good sticks to roast the marshmallows later on. The busier you keep them the less likely they will be to complain!
Right Campsite at the Right Time
Unless you want to use the woods or an outhouse as your bathroom, look for campgrounds that indicate they are “electric.” This guarantees you a flush toilet, running water and electricity nearby. Most campgrounds have maps on their website which allow you to reserve your actual spot. This way you can choose your proximity to the bathroom, playground, running water, etc. If possible, I would also recommend avoiding family camping on Friday or Saturday nights. We did this once and it was a real party atmosphere with people cruising the campgrounds in their cars blasting loud music. Most campgrounds have a curfew, but it can be a bit rowdy at some spots on weekends until then.