Ideas and tips for what to do before the first camping trip with kids. Practical tips include preparation and what to bring.

One of the favorite vacations for children is to go camping. Boys may belong to the Boy Scouts or girls to the Girl Scouts, so this can become a frequent vacation for the family. However, camping as an adult is a very different thing than camping as a child. Adults who have not camped before, or only been camping as a child, may be unprepared for the amount of work required to go tent camping. These tips will help make the first experience as enjoyable as possible.

1. Consider the age and personalities of your children.

Camping involves being in the dark, bugs, walking to the bathroom and waiting for things to happen. Food may take longer to make and won’t taste the same as it does at home. All of these new experiences may thrill some kids who can’t wait for more and other kids may be less enthusiastic. Some of these obstacles are readily solved with the addition of a battery-operated nightlight and mosquito spray. Bring little games and activities for children who are too young to engage in camp responsibilities. This could mean helping with gathering firewood, setting the table or straightening up the tent.

2. Choose the best type of campground for your family.

Campgrounds vary widely in amenities. If you have young children, a playground next to the campsites can be important as the kids can play while the adults are busy. Other items to look for are indoor bathrooms, showers, a beach and available drinking water. Some resorts may have scheduled activities for kids while others will have toys and watercraft available for use.

3. Choose the right equipment and practice using it before the trip.

Camping can be challenging if you have never had to use a camp stove, had to filter water or put up a tent. Practice camping for a night in your backyard. Put up the tent, lay out the sleeping bags, cook dinner on the camp stove and sleep in the tent. By doing this at home it will not only provide practice so that things go smoother on the trip but also allow the kids to get a taste of adventure. Be sure to feed them the same food that they will get on the camping trip, so if they have a problem eating it you can change the menu before you go. If they have trouble sleeping in the yard because the air mattress isn’t thick enough now is the time to find out, not when you are at the campsite and they are crabby from lack of sleep.

4. Plan the food and activities with the kids.

Some kids will eat anything put in front of them, but many are more particular than that. Have the kids help plan the menu. If you will be car camping, you are only limited by space and what you can fit into an ice chest. Favorites include hot dogs (roasted over an open fire), sandwiches, s’mores and hamburgers. If you are backpacking, it is a good idea to bring peanut butter and jelly for sandwiches.

5. Bring special items from home.

If the kids read a particular story for bed or have a stuffed animal they sleep with, bring them too. Also, carry to bring a deck of cards and a few small games in case of rain. While rain may seem to be a bad thing, many families end up enjoying the time spent together playing card games and relaxing.

Camping as a wonderful way to spend time together as a family and experience the great outdoors. Hiking, fishing, canoeing and stargazing are only a few of the new adventures that await. Plan a trip that best suits your family and you may hear, “Lets do this again!”