Camping. It has a glamorous appeal to some, and to others it scares the heck out of them. This post hopefully will encourage you to give it a try – for there are many benefits to getting outside with your family.
First let’s be realistic. We JUST starting family camping this summer. And we have done it twice. That’s all. We haven’t gone every weekend, bought an RV, or completed a 3 hour hike. We just went for two separate weekends in fairly close locations. Some people REALLY love nature, and some don’t. So my first piece of advice is to find something that suits you and your family. This is a critical step because it can make or break your camping experience. Do you (and your family) love the outdoors and hiking through nature? Then head to one of the amazing State Parks that we have in Wisconsin. You will be surrounded by nature, able to hike around and see some wonderful sites, and really feel secluded. If you like the idea of being outside, sleeping under the stars, but don’t want to be too immersed, then check out many of the other campsites that are around the area. Many of them are not as deep in the forest, and have lots of planned activities for kids and teens.
The next step is to choose sleeping arrangements. You have all heard the term glamping. Seriously- if your idea of roughing it is with full electricity, air, and heat if needed, then find something that fits your needs. Rent a camper, an RV, or a cabin. You can still get a lot of the benefits of the camping experience without all the stuff that you might not like as much. We have chosen to tent it both times, and let me tell you I was NERVOUS for the first experience. My kids are 4 (twins) and 8, and we also had our dog with us. I had visions of nobody sleeping. At all. Not only did we survive, but we had a great time, and we even SLEPT! (Don’t ask me what time the kids fell asleep though, lol).
Then you want to make sure that you have things for your kids to do. It might mean a lot of work before leaving, but it pays off in the end. Unless your kids like to sit around talking with adults, I have found that if I bring some unique and fun things to do we all enjoy the time more. I have done bubble wands/blasters, painting rocks, nature scavenger hunts, “found nature” artwork, and sparklers, just to name a few. We also try to pack games that the whole family enjoys playing, such as Spot It, Moose in The House, Old Maid, and Uno. We have also really enjoyed playing Forbidden Island with our older daughter. Pro tip- try to score a campsite close to a playground!
Lastly, plan the time according to what fits your schedule. Don’t try to do too long of a stay, but also go long enough that it is worth all the time packing up the gear. We left Friday and got there just a little past dinner time- enough time to set up and enjoy a s’more before heading to bed. We packed up on Sunday so that we were home midday- plenty of time to unpack, wind down, and prepare for the week ahead of us. Nobody wants to deal with cranky kids (and who are we kidding, ADULTS) who are all overtired right before bedtime.
One of the best things about family camping is the time you have without the distractions of your home. You can really enjoy each others company, and make some great memories. Can you survive a weekend without WIFI? Sure can, and you will find that the stories that you have to share as a result are worth every minute. One of our twins came shouting down the hallway “Sleeping in our big tent? That was awesome!”. Can’t get much better than that.
Have any camping tips yourself? Please comment below and share!