A wonderful way to invest in your families’ treasure trove of memories is by spending time in the great outdoors. Camping trips can be an excellent tradition that your family will look forward to and in time, look back upon with fond memories.
Whether you plan to camp at the same place every year or seek out new places doesn’t matter as camping is always filled with new adventures. Your family might have a favorite place you go to every year mixed with a new spot you select together for another weekend or extended holiday during the year. There are so many national parks to explore; your options really are quite limitless.
Camping doesn’t have to be an overly expensive expenditure. Again this all depends on how you’ll be camping. Camping in a tent carries a completely different dynamic than camping in a fully equipped camper. Camping in a tent is also relatively inexpensive. Perhaps the camper is something you’ll decide to invest in after a few years of tent camping, then again there are some who prefer to only go tent camping. There’s something to be said about the rustic quality of sleeping in a tent, you can hike to far off remote spots where you couldn’t get to with a camper in tow.
Regardless of how you’ll be camping you’ll want to have the proper camping gear and accessories. First off you want to have the best tent and sleeping bags you can possibly afford. As your tent will be your home away from home for your trip and your sleeping bag will keep you warm and covered for those long nights under the stars (there are tents available that have mesh roofs for star gazing, of coarse if it starts to rain, you can just cover it up with your tent fly), you’ll want to be sure that both these items keep you appropriately covered so to speak.
Next you’ll want to have proper camp accessories; a trustworthy camp stove, a lantern, flashlights, a first aid kit, tarp, cooking and eating utensils, a little axe (for chopping firewood, also doubles as a hammer for hammering in tent pegs), some rope (for clothes lines and securing tarp), and cooler. Along with your sleeping bag you’ll want to remember comfy pillows (unless your backpacking then you might want a convenient inflatable pillow) and very importantly a good sleep pad. An uncomfortable sleep experience on hard ground may steer you off tent camping altogether, so come prepared, a good sleeping pad is worth its weight in gold. A good idea to help you remember all these items is the camping check list.
It’s a good idea to store your camp gear in some plastic containers. This way it’s all in one place (with your camp list included), so when it’s time to pack up and go camping you can go through the containers making any necessary additions needed. It’s very important to check that all your equipment is properly maintained and cared for; there is nothing worse than getting to your destination and finding that your camp stove is not working. You’ll also want to be sure that your camp fuel supply is replenished and you have extra batteries (for flashlights, lanterns or radios).
One of the best things about the whole camping experience is the food. Now depending on where you’re camping and what time of year it is, if you’re lucky you’ll be able to do some of your cooking around the campfire. During dry seasons there may be fire restrictions due to forest fire concerns, if that’s the case you’ll do all your cooking atop your camping stove. Every meal always seems to taste a bit better when you’re camping, it might have something to do with all the fresh air, or maybe all the fun activity builds up you’re appetite, either way you’ll want to bring along some family favorites. For dinner maybe some grilling of the families select choices, accompanied by some corn on the cob and potatoes wrapped in tin foil cooked on the coals with a nice salad and later for dessert smores (marshmallow and a slice of chocolate sandwiched between two graham wafers), add to that some hot chocolate before bed and that’s a night of food to dream about.
The activities (or lack of activities) will also make your camping trip one to remember. Hiking, kayaking, cycling and sailing might be on your agenda. Most parks offer excellent groomed hiking trails. Research in advance the area you will be visiting to know what activities will be available, you may be able to rent a kayak and take a lesson at the same time. Many areas also offer great bike trails that the family can cycle on together. A late night walk is among favorite suggestions; you can check out the stars and just listen to the silence.
Bring along a book you’ve wanted to read or some magazines. Games are another excellent pastime, a deck of cards or a board game might be some fun. Of course you can always bring along some baseball gloves and a ball for a game of catch. Soccer balls, badminton rackets and a net or volleyball and net all make for a fun day at the park.
If your family has little one’s you’ll be presented with a whole new challenge. Depending on the ages of your babies or toddlers you’ll want to pack some extra conveniences. There are excellent baby back carriers available allowing you to hike all sorts of terrain with baby in tow while keeping your back feeling comfortable, as well there are a numerous variety of baby strollers to select from which are great for using on trails. For toddlers you may want to bring a playpen to keep baby safe. You can never bring too many toys; the more your child has to keep them entertained you can rest assure they will be more content.
Be prepared for weather changes by bringing along extra clothing. Most likely you will be camping in the warmer spring, summer and fall months. It’s wise to remember however that the evenings can often get quite cool. Bring along heavy sweaters or extra jackets for added warmth, it can never hurt to bring along a couple of extra blankets for comfort beside the fire (or for use at a day picnic). Rainwear is another excellent addition to your camping wardrobe. With good quality rain jackets, hats, rain pants and boots you can take advantage of the rainy weather and actually go out for a hike rather than staying inside the tent or worse yet ending your camp trip all together.
Camping certainly has its challenges. Knowing what to bring and having the proper equipment and accessories is the first hurtle. Once you arrive at your destination and set up you want to keep everyone as comfortable and happy as possible, whether it’s keeping the kids occupied without the use of video games or cooking a surefire dinner. Rest assured that after your first couple of trips when you find out what everyone enjoys doing and you realize all you like to include on your trip, you will certainly add camping to your families list of favorite excursions and traditions. The wonderful thing about camping is its always different, perhaps the site is different or the campground you selected is unique to the last you stayed at, whatever the difference is it always seems to be an adventure that the whole family can enjoy.