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Fun Ideas: "Camping: Family Camping Trip "
Ideas Main

Family Camping Trips
By Wes Fessler

Article Sections
Making Reservations
Being Organized
Camping Etiquette
Keeping It Fun
Checklist of Supplies

Learn how to plan for a camping trip.

Family Camping Trips
By Wes Fessler

1 June 2007


campingThere are few activities that can bring more excitement and joy to a family than camping trips. Those who love camping usually plan the event long in advance and await the day of its commencement with great anticipation. There is something almost magical about setting off for your destination, as if you are able to abandon one world to live in another for a while. The concept of escape unleashes components of the family’s imagination that never seem to surface in any other way.

Planning a Family Camping Trip

One of the most important factors for a successful camping trip is planning. Planning for a camping trip is not a complicated task, but it is one that should not be neglected. The following are a few ideas to guide you in planning your trip.

Research the area where you would like to stay. Find fun activities to do at the campground and in nearby areas before you go on your trip. Have alternative activities available in case some of your planned activities fail to go as planned. 
Use an online map service to get driving directions and maps of the area.
Call the campground or park for information about the location, facilities, and activities available. Ask if they have any maps of the campsites and other useful information that will help you on your trip. This information may help to confirm that this is the location for you, or it may change your mind altogether about camping there.
Make reservations for your campsite early
(see Making Reservations).
Plan out the meals for your entire stay. Be sure to consult with your family on what they would like to eat during the trip. Make a schedule for when you will have each meal. Additionally make a list of all of the ingredients you will need for each meal. This list can be used when purchasing your items, when packing the food for the trip, and when you prepare the meals at your campsite.
Make a checklist of the items that you plan to bring on your camping trip (see the Sample Checklist of Camping Supplies to get ideas for your list). This list should include everything that you want to bring with you. The checklist will be used at home when you are ready to pack up for the trip. By running through the checklist once before you leave, you can ensure that your supplies will be as planned. If the list is incomplete or if you fail to check it before leaving your house, you can almost guarantee unpleasant surprises on your trip.

These guidelines should help you get a good start on your camping plans. Your planning will likely vary somewhat from what is described above, and it should. By adding and adjusting these ideas above to fit your personal needs, you will be able to develop a plan that works for you. These suggestions are here to guide you toward that end.

Making Reservations

Make reservations for your campsite early. If you have never gone camping before it may surprise you to know that if you don’t make your reservation early, you may not get a spot at all. Different rules and schedules apply to national parks, state parks, and private parks. It is necessary to be aware of the specific requirements that apply to the type of park where you will be staying. Find out when it is best to make a reservation. 

These sites can be used to make reservations for many state and national parks. You can browse their locations, find available sites, and book your reservations online.

* http://www.reserveamerica.com
* http://www.recreation.gov

For private campgrounds and other parks that are not available through these sites, you will need to contact the specific park for reservation information.

Being Organized

Find a way to organize all of your supplies and equipment for camping. Large plastic containers with lids can be used to keep similar types of supplies together and easier to find. Containers with different colors or sizes can also help to make your supplies easier to categorize and identify. Organizing your supplies in this way will make them much easier to find when you need them.

Camping Etiquette

It seems that there is always a group of campers somewhere near your campsite who defy common sense and make a complete nuisance of themselves. Sometimes it is just that they are unaware that their behavior is not appropriate for the situation, while at other times they are intentionally loud, disruptive, messy, and downright rude. While I won’t elaborate on the behaviors or acts that I have witnessed, I feel a duty to just say, “please don’t be like that.”

Here are a few simple things you can do to keep your neighbors happy. Some things to remember with camping etiquette are:

Don’t speak loudly enough for your closest neighbors to hear you after the park instituted lights out time.
Avoid walking through other people’s campsites at any time (day or night). Whether you see people there or not, allow them to be entitled to a little space that they can call their own for the duration of their stay. Try not to walk through other campsites on the way to the bathroom or wherever you may be going. Take the long way around whenever possible.
Keep control of your trash. Be diligent in picking up the garbage. Although some would argue, nature’s beauty is not enhanced by man’s ability to produce refuse.
Avoid building enormous fires. Don’t make fires so large that they rival the trees in height. This can be extremely dangerous and it will attract the attention of everyone including the park ranger (who won’t be impressed when he comes to talk to you about it).
Don’t do anything gross to the bathrooms. I guess that’s enough said about that one.

Keeping It Fun: ideas for camping with kids

There is little challenge in keeping things fun for the first day of camping. A little work may be required to keep things fun as time progresses, however. Be sure to plan several activities and bring a variety of games to play. Make sure to give your kids opportunities to explore and play.

Here are some additional ideas to help you keep things fun throughout the trip.

Share responsibilities. It is little fun to be the one who does all the work while everyone else is off playing games, chasing birds. Make it a point to share responsibilities so that the work is divided evenly. Rotate jobs if necessary to maintain “fairness.” Be sure that everyone in the family is given the chance to join in the fun.
Have well planned meals. Determine as a family what your meals will be long before taking your trip. This will leave no excuse for dissatisfaction. When everyone knows what to expect with the food, they are more likely to be happy with the meals. As an optional bonus, a few treats can make the family thrilled with the menu which can certainly boost the morale.
Leave some unstructured time available for your family to do whatever they want. Don’t plan your trip so rigidly that every passing minute is locked into a scheduled event. It is good to leave some open time once or twice a day at least to allow everyone to be involved in whatever makes them happy.
Allow the kids to participate in some of the “grown up” camping tasks. You may be the best at staking down the tent and tying knots in rope, but don’t deny the kids a chance to try it too. These seemingly mundane tasks can be very significant to the children. Give the kids a chance the unique tasks that make camping all that it is.
Be adaptable to unexpected situations. When plans fall through, look for something else to do and accept it with optimism. Don’t allow simple disappointments to spoil the positive spirit of camping.

Checklist of Camping Supplies

Use this checklist as a sample for making one of your own. Undoubtedly there will be items that you will wish to add to the list and some that you will leave out to suit your needs.

Checklist of Camping Supplies
  Swim suits
  Tennis Shoes
  Electric air inflater
  Toilet Paper
  Beef jerky
  Air mattress
  Folding chairs
  Cooking table
  Sleeping bags
  Camping stove
  Portable toilet
  5 Gallon Water Containers
  Hand broom and dust pan
  Bug killer spray
  Insect repellant
  Can opener
  Duct tape
  Fanny packs
  Back packs
  Firestarting cubes
  Fly swatter
  Mosquito coils
  Pocket knife
  Sewing kit
  Twist ties
  Wasp and hornet spray
  Tent light
  Tent mat
  Tent tarp
  Driving directions
  Camping information
  Marshmallow stick
  Phone charger
  Video Camera
  Soap (bar)
  Hair dryer
  Hair brush
  Hair Spray
  Sharp knifes (steak knives)
  Butter knives (silverware)
  Forks (silverware)
  Spoons (silverware)
  Plastic knives
  Plastic forks
  Plastic spoons
  Buckets for dishwashing
  Dish soap
  Dish towels
  Dish scour pads
  Grill scraper (for barbeque)
  Hand towels
  Hot pads
  Water kettle
  Lighter (long barbeque lighter is best)
  Freezer size plastic zip bags
  Sandwich size plastic zip bags
  Frying pan
  Cooking pot
  Paper bowls
  Paper plates
  Plastic cups

Paper towels

  Wooden or plastic stirring spoon
  Serving spoon
  Table cloth

First aid kit

  Table cloth clamps
  Trash bags
  Folding Table
  Bath Towels
  Beach Towels
  Shaving razor
  Shaving Cream
  Lip balm
  Tent stakes
  Mobile phone
  Ice Chest


Camping with your family is a wonderful experience when you come prepared. It is an excellent opportunity to teach children to enjoy nature and to share new experiences. With sufficient planning and organization, your trip is sure to be a success that is enjoyed by all.


* The Family Fun Shop is not affiliated with Reserve America or recreation.gov.

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