7 Tips For Surviving a Family Camping Trip

When it comes to camping as a family, the pre-conceived ideas you have in mind—you know, singing around the campfire and reeling in a fish—don’t always align with reality. Your family camping visions probably didn’t include mosquitos, torrential downpours, and fights about iPhone use.

No, camping as a family isn’t always perfect—but it’s still an adventure worth undertaking. The shared sense of exploration and discovery, the joys of figuring out ways to stay entertained outside of your comfort zone, and the time spent enjoying the outdoors together make camping the perfect way to grow closer as a family. In time, even the mishaps will become hilarious memories that are recounted at family gatherings. Here’s how to create an unforgettable camping trip.

Start Small
If it’s your first camping trip as a family, don’t aim for a multi-week excursion that will have you hiking out into the middle of nowhere and completely living off the land. A weekend trip is the perfect way to ease into camping.

Consider Amenities
As a family, decide where you want to camp. If you’re looking for an active trip, scout out a location with lots of hikes and water holes to keep you busy. If you have a family member who is unwilling to forego certain conveniences, see if you can find a campsite with running toilets.

Gear Up
Good gear can make the difference between a good night’s sleep and a horrible one. Good gear can mean staying dry if it starts raining in the middle of the night, or waking up in a soggy tent. In other words, good gear can make or break a trip.

Plan Ahead
When camping, there are a lot of factors that you cannot control—so be sure to have a firm command on those you can. That means planning ahead by reserving campsites, paying permits, and organizing meals. Staying organized means that you’ll be ready to handle the unpredictable elements of camping when they inevitably arise.

Make it Fun
Infuse your camping trip with a little fun—for instance, set up a contest for who can build and light a campfire the quickest, or bring along some unconventional toppings for a s’mores bar. Even chores can be made fun—whoever gathers the most garbage at the end of the trip might be rewarded with getting to choose the soundtrack on the ride home.

Go Traditional
Part of the beauty of camping is being able to escape the buzz of every day life. Set expectations ahead of time in terms of dealing with electronics—or better yet, just scout out a location with no WiFi or cell reception!

Be ready for complaints about boredom—and be prepared to provide some old-school alternatives. Popping popcorn over the fire, organizing a bocce tournament, or creating a version of wilderness bingo are just a few ways to keep everyone entertained.

Savor the Moment Teach your kids to appreciate the great outdoors by taking time to stop and smell the wildflowers. Forego set bedtimes in favor of watching the stars under the night sky, and don’t worry about stopping on a hike to watch some insects at work. By cultivating a passion for nature with your children, you’re creating environmental ambassadors who will begin to look forward to family camping trips!

by Magee Walker