By Josephine Baran
There’s nothing quite like sleeping under the stars, sitting around a campfire and spending quality time with the family. Camping is a great budget-friendly family vacation option that gives you and your kids the chance to disconnect from the daily routine and reconnect with each other. But for first-time family campers, packing up the kids, setting up a tent and living in the outdoors can seem like a daunting task.
With the right gear, planning and organization, family camping can be a fun and enjoyable activity for everyone. Here are a few helpful tips for any camping adventure.
Planning your trip
The most important part of family camping happens when you’re still at home. Here are important points to keep in mind before embarking on your trip:
Get familiar with your gear
- Whether you bought new gear or are borrowing from a friend, set it up at home before hitting the road. Pitch the tent, light your stove, and test the lantern. Make sure your equipment works and that you’re not forgetting anything!
Plan fast, easy and healthy meals
- Keep the ingredients simple and consider pre-packing meals for an easy mealtime. For your first adventure, try cooking your food beforehand and freezing it solid so all you have to do it warm it up at your campsite.
Plan for fun
- Travel size board and card games such as the Outside Inside Roll‑up Campground Magnetic Darts are perfect for when the sun goes down and are a great way to keep the kids around the campsite while dinner is cooking.
- Remember that camping tasks can be fun for the little ones. Ask for help sweeping the tent, gathering sticks and preparing the meals.
When you get home, remember to air out the tents and sleeping bags before storing them to avoid mold or musty smells. Keep all your gear in one place in large containers with a packing list to eliminate having to check and re-check equipment before your next trip.
Family Camping safety
When away from home, it can be easy for our children to forget household rules and difficult for parents to enforce them. Camping requires us to become creative in parenting to ensure our children remain safe. Here are some tricks I’ve picked up over our many years of camping:
Set the boundaries
- Assign a boundary for kids to stay inside, such as the perimeter of your campsite. This is also helpful around the cooking area to keep curious hands away from the fire.
Get your children involved
- Ask for help gathering wood or bringing over the pots to the cooking area. Take along the BioLite BaseCamp Grill for a fire alternative that only requires small branches and twigs so that your children can have an important role.
Calories are your friend
- Depending on the time of year, it’s important to keep your children well fed to ensure they are staying warm. Being outside and active all day burns more calories, so it’s not a bad idea to bring along the YayLabs! Softshell Ice Cream Ball, make a snack with the Camp Chef Popcorn Popper, or place a chunk of butter in their hot chocolate.
Figuring out what works best for your family is the best way to keep them safe. You know your family best and can come up with great ideas to keep them safe and happy during your family camping adventure.
Josephine is an Outreach Coordinator at Canada’s leading outdoor retailer, MEC, at the Edmonton store. She has been camping for over 35 years and has 15 years of experience camping with her three children. When she is not at MEC, she can be found running or skiing with her kids and dog in tow.