Some of my greatest memories from childhood are from family camping trips. We would kick off the season Memorial Day weekend by packing up the camper and heading to a lake.
Sometimes it would just be with my parents and brothers, other times my grandparents or aunt, uncle and cousins would join us. We'd spend days fishing, wandering and playing in the woods, riding our bikes, paddling on the lake in our canoe or just hanging out. Of course, each night there was a campfire and s'mores, because what's camping without s'mores?
When we camped, there was no agenda. Well, actually the agenda was to unplug. And this was before cell phones and the Internet. Back then unplug meant get away from telephones attached to the wall, running water, electricity and indoor bathrooms.
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As I got older, I couldn't wait to pass on the camping traditions to my kids. That is until I actually had kids.
Camping with young kids never sounded appealing to me. I know a lot of people pull it off, but as a mom of twins, I lived and breathed by a set schedule for at least the first three years of their lives. The thought of packing all of their stuff and going a night or two with zero hours of sleep did not sound like fun.
When we finally felt brave enough to camp with the whole family, it was a "live and learn" experience. Here are some camping secrets we've picked up along the way to ensure everyone has the best time ever.
Start with an Overnighter
When it comes to your first camping experience with kids, it's best to start off with one night at a time. It will give the kids a taste of how fun camping is without overwhelming them by staying away from home for too long.
Pick the Right Site
My kids are water lovers. We make sure that we are always in close proximity to a lake, ocean, river or pond that has public water access. Even if it's splashing in water that's up to their ankles, it's entertainment for hours. Look for a campground that has something your kids will love.
Don't Forget the Bug Spray
Nothing can sour a child's first camping experience like discovering a tick somewhere on their body or coming home covered in mosquito bites. If you're worried about exposing your children to the chemicals found in some bug sprays, we recommend a natural option like Buzz Away Extreme Deet-Free Insect Repellant.
It's made with essential plant oils like geranium, citronella and lemongrass to repel mosquitos, ticks, gnats, flies and fleas. The combination of essential oils also smells better than the typical bug spray stink and is gentle on the skin, so you can use it for the whole family.
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Go with Friends or Family
A surefire way to have a successful camping trip is to coordinate a weekend away with friends or family. It's even better if you have adjoining campsites. The kids will have playmates and the parents can have adult time.
Bring the Entertainment
Kids like variety. Come prepared with board games, coloring supplies, sporting goods (baseball, football, etc.), or craft supplies to keep everyone entertained and engaged for the whole trip.
Special Camping Treats
No camping trip is complete without a s'more or two made over the campfire. We always look forward to sitting around the fire, toasting marshmallows and enjoying the ooey-gooey treat.
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