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Taking the Kids Camping

Taking the Kids Camping

Here’s a vacation idea that is guaranteed to be an adventure, won’t bust the budget and will provide plenty of family time away from computers, cell phones and TVs. You don’t have to go far from home either and you can bring your pooch.

Go camping-even for a few days. Just being in a tent is an adventure for young kids. Everyone loves looking at the stars and making s’mores over the campfire. At every campground, kids will make instant friends and so will you with families from around the country and beyond. No worries either if kids are noisy during meal times or can’t sit still. Here are some tips to get you started:

  • If you are a novice camper, borrow or rent what you need from a company like REI or Eastern Mountain Sports. At some campgrounds like Curry Village at Yosemite National Park, you can rent a platform tent or a rustic cabin.
  • If sleeping on the ground isn’t your thing or you are worried about rain (yes, that’s happened to us), consider a pop up camper-rentals start at well under $50 a day – or a small RV and you still will be able to enjoy all the fun of being in a campground with other families.
  • Look for campgrounds that offer organized family and children’s activities, a playground, pool or evening campfires. You can find wi-fi too. Check KOA Campgrounds and those in the National Parks as well as state parks near your home.
  • Invite another family whose kids are similar ages. If the kids are teens or tweens, encourage them to bring a friend. Kids will make up their own games with rocks and sticks, compose songs on the hiking trail and entertain each other with skits around the campfire at night.
  • Get the kids involved in the planning. Let them plan some of the meals (ever had a tin foil dinner?) and help cook, choose the hikes and other activities. (Fishing or tubing?) The kids can mix their own trail snacks too.
  • Bring along food you don’t usually have at home such as beef jerky, sugared cereals or in our family plenty of Tootsie Roll pops.
  • Be mindful of safety. Make sure one adult always has their eyes on young children. Give each child a whistle and explain when you hike everyone needs to stay with a buddy, stay on the trail, and if separated from the group, stay put and “hug a tree,” until they are found.
  • Be prepared with plenty of matches, extra flashlight batteries, rain gear, quick-dry clothes, moisture wicking socks, extra layers in case the weather changes and a well-stocked first-aid kit.
  • Leave the electronics in the car or the tent as much as possible. You’ll be amazed at the conversations you will have!
  • Bring cards, small board games and books to read aloud in the evening.
  • Leave all the work to others too and sign on for organized family trips. Everyone from the Sierra Club to REI to Backroads, the Appalachian Mountain Club and Austin-Lehman Adventures offer all varieties of family trips where all you need to do is show up.

Got plenty of bug repellent?

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