Summer is coming and many families are preparing for camping trips. But camping can take on many forms, depending on your preferences and budget. Some people like to keep it simple and go tent camping in the backcountry. Others are into expensive RV’s and long road trips. Some, like my family, like going back to the same place every year. My son Mark is very excited to go to our trailer at Red Bay Park on Bruce Peninsula for our vacation. He missed his friends and the playground there.
Whatever your liking, there are some general rules for a memorable camping trip with your children:
1. Plan well. Research your route and the campground you want to visit. Ask your friends for recommendations. Make reservations and plan some sightseeing in the area. Some parks are small and simple and some offer all the services and amenities under the stars. We are seasonal campers so we do not have to worry about reservations, but I like to always plan some attractions and day trips.
2. Use a checklist to pack. If you do not have your own checklist you can get my Ultimate Family Camping Checklist. With kids it is important not to forget anything crucial.
3. Whether your equipment is old or new, do a test run in the backyard.This will save you a lot of stress and hassle when you arrive at your site. It will also familiarize your kids with your tent (or trailer) and make the actual experience less scary. Remember that camping can actually be a scary experience for little ones.
4. Plan meals beforehand, unless you are planning to go food shopping or eat out during your trip. Camping food can be as simple or as gourmet as you want it to be. It is totally up to you. There are countless recipes on the internet and you may find some of them useful. Using a Dutch oven, cast iron pan over the campfire or gas stove and grill are all popular options. Preparing all meals beforehand and freezing them is also a good solution. I like to rely on having lots of fruit for snacks: it is good for you and does not go bad as quickly as other food items that require refrigeration.
5. Make safety a priority. Little kids should be supervised at all times. They also have to understand how important it is to keep away from the fire, use caution with wild plants (they could be poisonous) and not to approach or feed wild animals.
6. Relax and have fun Do not forget why you are there. Give everyone and yourself a chance to enjoy your time. Be flexible: not everything has to be perfect. If kids are not perfectly clean and your dinner is a bit burnt, it is all just a part of living outdoors.
About the Author: Beata Antoszek is a lifelong camping enthusiast and an advocate for returning to nature and green living. She is also a publisher of a family camping website www.momanddadcamping.com. Beata lives in the Toronto Beaches with her husband and her son Mark.