Leave the worries at home. Make the most of family camping with this dad’s advice.
Ahhhhh. I love this time of year. Our tent, backpack and sleeping bags start calling my name. Early spring is the best time of the year in Tennessee to grab the family and head outdoors for a family camping trip. The weather is perfect and the bloodthirsty mosquitoes have not taken over yet.
There is something so sacred about camping with family. It is such a rare time to unplug from our daily lives, no work, no computers and no hustling from dance to karate to Cub Scouts. It’s like we all drop our shoulders and let out a collective sigh at the first sign of wilderness.
I am always amazed by how quickly the worries, stress and “issues” that plague us throughout the week melt away. The best part about camping with kids, though, is the little spontaneous conversations that happen. While we set up the tent or gather firewood, we talk about their friends or funny things that happened to them at school. Sitting around the fire at night roasting hotdogs and marshmallows for s’mores, we always seem to take a meander down memory lane. My wife and I talk about how we met, events that happened before they were born, their births and wonderful memories from their lives. These family stories are so important to solidify our memories and build the strong family foundation that I want my children to have.
My Top 10 Tips for Family Camping
- Keep the food simple. I’m talking hotdogs, chips, fruit, PB&J sandwich and muffins. (Explore some healthy snack ideas here.) This is supposed to be a stress-free time to spend together.
- Sidewalk chalk and dollar store squirt bottles. My kids spend hours decorating trees, the road, rocks, you name it. They also love to spray everything in sight with a water bottle. I don’t know why. Maybe it gives them power.
- Bring a separate tent just for the kids to play in if you can. We always set up a “kids only” tent with toys and books. It gives them their own space to play without tracking in tons of nasty into your main tent.
- Try to get a site near the bathroom. You know you are going to be schlepping in the middle of the night there anyway. Might as well be close.
- Bring swords and wands. The best adventures occur in the woods, so be ready for battles and magic.
- Let your kids get filthy dirty. I mean REALLY FILTHY dirty. When else can kids play in the dirt without fear of messing up clothes or tracking mud into the house?
- Bring TONS of the following camping supplies: water, bug spray, sunscreen, wet wipes, hand sanitizer, bandages and antibiotic ointment or spray. (View these camping safety tips.)
- Buy inexpensive headlamps for the kids. They just think these are cool, and they have both hands for full play potential.
- S’mores over the fire are a must! S’mores using Nutella – even better!
- Bring a bug box or adventure box for each child. They can collect all of their treasures from the trip.
This post was written by Dave Delaney, a Toronto-born, digital marketing consultant, hubby and dad in Nashville, Tennessee.
What tip would you add to the list? Share your family’s experiences and best tips in the comments below.