Do you think about taking a family camping trip? What a way to relax, enjoy the great outdoors and spend quality time with your family!
Camping can be such an enjoyable family experience, even for those without experience…just follow the four “P” rules of camping: PRE-PLAN, PLAN, PREPARE and PARTICIPATE.
With a calendar, notebook and pen in hand, call a family meeting.
The first step in pre-planning is to decide when and where you would like to go. Then take the time to research the camp grounds in the area to find one with all of the amenities that you want and require; i.e. laundry, store, bath-houses, pool or swimming area, fishing, firewood, hiking trails, etc.
Once you decide on a camp ground, call and reserve a site for the dates you have chosen to take your trip.
This will require another family meeting but first, you must go back and research all of the local attractions to the campground you will be staying at. Make lists of such things as: museums, amusement parks, hiking trails, restaurants, fishing spots, boat rentals, canoeing, tours, etc. It would also help in your planning if you can make notes as to how far from the campground these places are and requirements; i.e. fishing license and prices for admittance.
Now, with your calendar, daily planner, notebook and pen and your list of attractions, call another family meeting. Make this one more relaxed by making popcorn (or other snacks) and having beverages out on the table.
This is when you want to make decisions about the activities you will be doing as a family so, it is important that everyone be involved in the decision making (especially if you want co-operation from the children when you get there!
Use your daily planner and decide what time each activity will start and end on each day. Be sure to give yourselves one free day for the “just in-cases”; i.e. you come across something else you would like to do that you didn’t find in your research.
Simply put, MAKE LISTS!
Binder – Included in this should be your notebook, daily planner, reservation confirmations, brochures and pens.
For each person that is going on the trip, make a separate list of clothing. Be sure to include water shoes, rain ponchos, jackets, hats, hiking shoes and extra tennis shoes.
- Shower list – Beach bags or backpacks work great. Have one for each person and include in them all of their person hygiene items, towels and wash cloths, a roll of toilet paper (in a plastic bag) and flip-flops to wear in the shower.
- Food – First, make a menu of meals for each day you will be there. From there you can decide what groceries you need to take. Make sure you include snacks and plenty of drinks with a wide variety.
- Cooking and eating needs – I am sure you will think of more but, my list includes: pots, pans, silverware, cooking and serving utensils, foil, storage containers, table cloth, napkins, zip-lock bags and paper towels.
- Laundry needs – Include washing powder, softener, laundry bags, enough change for the washer and dryer and rope for hanging up wet clothing.
- Tent and bedding – Don’t forget to take extra blankets, pillows and tarps, just in case of cold or rainy weather.
- First Aid – Though we all hope nothing happens, it is always best to be prepared for it! A small tackle box or a plastic shoe box works great for this. Include band-aids, gauze pads, medical tape, ace bandages, tweezers, peroxide, antibiotic cream, sun block, bug repellant, Aloe Vera gel (great for sun burns), instant cold compresses, rubber gloves and a small flashlight.
- Hiking Backpack – This pack can also be used when doing other activities, such as the boating and amusement parks and the contents can be adjusted for each. Please, make sure you fix up a “mini” first aid kit to put in this pack. Also include bottled water, snacks, a roll of toilet paper (in a plastic bag) and a few plastic grocery bags for trash.
- Rainy-day activities – It has never failed my family; if we go camping, we can count on at least one rainy day. To keep everyone from going crazy inside your tent or camper, take things like family games, cards, reading books, magazines and arts and crafts.
- Other necessities – If you will be cutting your own firewood, you will need an axe, sledge hammer and splitting wedge. You may want to take camping chairs to sit on. Other suggestions would be: lanterns and/or flashlights (with plenty of extra batteries, propane canisters or fuel), your fishing gear, a folding shovel, hammer, bowie knife and even more rope.
One more thing that you may want to consider is taking and using disposable cameras instead of your good ones. They are less expensive to replace if anything happens to them and, much more convenient.
There are a few important rules that my family lives by when we are out in nature in order for others to enjoy the great outdoors and, as a lover of nature, I would appreciate it if each and every one of you that read this would follow them also…
1. If you pack it in – pack it out! Don’t leave anything behind, including your trash.
2. The only things you take home with you that you didn’t bring with you are pictures and memories!
3. If you kill it, you eat it! In other words, if you aren’t planning on eating it, leave it alive, where you found it. You wouldn’t believe how well this works on my own children. No snakes, frogs, bugs or lizards have ever traveled home in their pockets!
You now have the tools to plan and prepare for a fun and safe family camping trip, it is time to load up the vehicle and hit the road!