For this post, I hope I can convince you to consider taking your family out to spend time out in nature. I know, I’m becoming a bit more hippy dippy in my old age, but even for the most urban of types, you cannot deny the incredible beauty of the great outdoors.
“Bah Humbug”, say some of my hardcore New York City friends I’m sure, but I promise you will have some spectacular life moments when you are surrounded by nature.
Camping is also budget friendly, especially compared to many other family vacations. Most importantly, how are we going to expect our children to be guardians of our planet if we as parents don’t share the experience of camping and enjoying nature?
Today, I’m going to share my best tips and tricks for not only surviving camping but also, THRIVING while you are getting all that fresh air in your lungs!!
Where to start? Reserve America is a great website for booking campsites. They are the largest provider of campsite reservations in North America featuring federal, state and private campgrounds. The site has great descriptions of each of the locations and their facilities. This is definitely not the time to go extreme and treat your family to a hardcore “Survivor” style vacation. Hot showers (even if they cost a few quarters) are always a good thing (at least to me and my brood anyways).
Be reasonable. There is no need to drag your family into a wilderness survival situation especially on your first time out. My suggestion would be to find somewhere local where you can spend the day and have a bit of a nature “trial run” before you venture into overnight territory.
Check with some of your friends with kids, as maybe they will have a camping destination to suggest. Heck, misery loves company, maybe you can wrangle another family to join in on the fun. Or maybe they will even let you borrow some of their camping gear!
Find a locale that suits your family’s interests and search for the facilities that are important to you. A big YES for me is someplace where they have bathroom facilities and hot showers. (Let’s not get crazy people). Most campgrounds have maps and I would suggest you find a space near the bathroom. A long trek in the middle of the night to go potty with your little one will bring that very important tip to life!!
Make a list and check it twice.
Organize your crew and make sure you have all the proper gear (tent, stove, hammock, lanterns, etc.) and check that all the pieces are accounted for. It would be a bad thing if your tent were missing the rain fly. Make sure you bring fresh batteries. That’s great that your old lantern turned on when you checked it at home, but what about when the light fades and you realized you haven’t changed the batteries since before your son was born? Not sure what to bring? I found this helpful checklist online.
I will admit, I can be a bit OCD when it comes to organization and cleanliness, but I have learned to take a deep breath and let it ride once we hit the campground because dirt happens! It's ok, I promise it washes off. (Which is why you need those hot showers!!). I always have a few packs of unscented wipes from the Honest Company handy. I also love the Stansport Wisk broom and dustpan that is perfect for keeping your tent clean and cozy.
Plan Activities (but not too many).
Find fun things unique to your camp area to do and explore such as Geocaching. Billed as a real-world treasure hunt, this great activity boasts more that 2 million locations world wide. Listen to ranger talks. Most campgrounds have regularly scheduled activities and talks with the rangers which are perfect for learning all about the animals and plants or the area. Don’t over work yourself trying to entertain the masses. Part of the beauty of camping is spending time learning to skip a rock on a pond, checking out bugs and examining rocks.
Man cannot live on s’mores alone (but can I try??!?) Make a list of how many days you will be out on the frontier and calculate how many breakfasts, lunches, dinners (and s’mores) you need to put together. There are thousands of camping friendly recipes on the Internet so you don’t have to rely on PB& J sandwiches to get you through the trip. You wouldn’t believe the variations of s’mores recipes that exist!
Quit bugging me.
There are definitely more mosquitoes in the great outdoors. People’s opinions vary on methods of defense so I found a couple of links that I thought would be helpful. For my green mamas, I found this article on Good Housekeeping.com. I cannot personally vouch for the effectiveness of any particular product but wanted to share the information.
I hope you and your family find yourselves cozied up to one of these beauties under the stars sometime soon. The perfect venue for making one of my favorite desserts… S’mores anyone?!?!
A BIG Team Sims thank you to Katelyn Collins for all of her amazing camping pics! She has an Etsy shop where you can purchase some of her gorgeous images.
Actress, model, active humanitarian, & Mom! Author of 'Everyday Chic'.