I recently met a new family the other day. She is the mother to 5 boys and 1 girl all under the age of 9. My kids are now good friends with her 6 kids and her and I have wonderful conversations about everything under the sun. We recently spoke at a picnic and in conversation I mentioned that our families should go camping together. She confessed that they had never gone camping. I stood there starring in disbelief thinking, how could this be? She added that they did not own a single piece of camping equipment either.
Later that night I shared this information with my husband. Although I was still shocked, he reminded me about the time we went to our local REI and participated in a family camping event. REI loaned out gear to the families who were interested in learning more about camping and trying out some new gear. They put on a free campfire show with a fantastic Spanish guitarist/storyteller, while we all enjoyed an evening of camping together.
During that fun trip, we all camped at a local campground just 20 minutes from our home. We met a dozen or so wonderful families and were amazed to learn that this was their very first time camping. I guess it just never dawned on me that there are so many families out there who have never experienced the joy, adventure and sheer fun of camping. Perhaps the reason might be that there is a huge fear of the unknown about camping with young children, or they simply do not have any camping gear so they never investigated the idea further.
Some basic and simple ideas to get started are:
- Do not worry about gear. Just find a local KOA where you can rent a cabin for a few bucks for the night.
- Survey the area you are thinking about camping at first for safety from cliffs, or other dangers for kids. Maybe even picnic there first.
- Plan on one night excursions at first to get an idea of what food quantities will be needed for longer trips.
- Bring food for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and breakfast again as well as snacks – healthy ones of course.
- Make a check list to help you confidently pack for your trip.
- Always bring a first aid kit, just in case.
- Bring some fun toys/games, flash lights, blankets, rain gear, and remember to bring a camera.
- Prepare yourself for some real relaxation, and family bonding time.
- Start thinking about other campground locations,and start planning your trips.
- Bring appropriate clothing and rain gear to be comfortable in unpredictable weather.
- Remember, you can always rent your gear at local sporting goods stores at reasonable prices, a tent, and some bags should suffice.
Through the years, I have discovered that not only does camping rejuvenate the soul and get you back in touch with the reality of life and nature, it is also one of the most affordable family activities out there.
So my quest is to help new campers to find the confidence, and information to get started on the journey of a lifetime, with minimal expense, for maximum results.