Camping can be a lot of fun for you family. You can build lots of memories that hopefully someday your kids will pass down to their kids. Now that you have kids though you can’t just “wing” it. You MUST plan ahead…. be organized. No matter if you are tenting it, using a RV or renting a cabin. You still need to make sure that everyone stays happy and has plenty to do.
1) Where to go: First thing you need to do is find a place to go. Most of the good spots you will notice are booked a year in advance. So after some practice you will get the hang of it and reserve in a timely manner. Are you one that likes the sun or likes the trees? Do you want swimming involved or other activities like hiking? Make a list of importance that you and your family would like to do. That way it will help you narrow down your choices of places to go to. You can get campground books or I prefer going on line to find the campgrounds and most of them have pictures and ratings from other people.
2) Staying Organized: Start with bins. I like to use bins because they are waterproof and easy to clean out. They can also stack easily too. I label them for instance… Kids Bathing Suits, Husbands Shirts, Propane tanks, Cooking utensils, Coloring books/Crafts, etc…. The bins can be in many sizes. It makes it much easier to pack up the car too with shapes that are even instead of awkward bags. Bring an empty one filled with plastic baggies (for kids shells, garbage sacks, leftover food, etc…). You can start weeks in advance on this and lay out the bins somewhere in your home. Prelabel them and start packing them as you able to.
3) Evening Lighting: Whether you are staying at a place with electricity or not. Bring lighting. Battery operated lights(found during holiday seasons). Solar lights (found during summer time) or plug in lights. Tiki torches are another great way to light up the camp area and they keep the bugs away too. Makes you feel like you are somewhere tropical at the same time. Path solar lights are excellent for around the walking areas. They don’t produce much light but you can see where you are walking. Nice to have to the entrance to your tent or RV and even leading into your camping spot. I try to avoid lanterns because they do attract bugs. If you stick with strand lights you tend to get fewer bugs and its more festive.
4) Food: Pre-make your food. I like to pre-make my food and freeze it. You can marinate meat at your home a few days before you leave then freeze it the night before. It will keep your cooler colder longer. Means less trips to get ice. Also, if your family is a snacker. Try cutting up some veggies before you leave and putting them in a tupperware. When your family wants to snack instead of snacking on junk food you can pull out veggies and low-fat dip. If you are camping someplace hot you can bring dry ice(in a separate cooler) and Popsicles. Make sure the dry ice is wrapped in newspaper and it should last a couple of days.
5) Making Memories: Now that you have done the camping… now its time to put them all together in some sort of album/journal. If you are a scrapbooker you can make it look all fancy or if you are not then no biggie just purchase a album(w/ slide out pages and tape the things in it). I like to start off each of my camping adventure with the brochure from the campground. I will highlight or circle which spot we stayed at and staple the receipt on how much it cost. Then other things you can add beside the pictures you took is… the menu of food; other brochures of activities you did; shell, sand or a leaf; a token from the showers; a map highlighted on how you got there. It’s completely up to you. This is for you and your family to look at for many many years. I like to keep a flat bin in our RV and keep it all in there. Then at the end of summer I will gather it all and then scrapbook them into an album. Since summer is already so crazy I tend to not have much free time.
The best thing you can do for your family is to do things as a family. The more times you go camping the easier it gets. You will find and learn new things by watching other campers. Have fun with it…. even on those camping trips when it turns out raining and you are stuck in a tent that is leaking… remember that someday you will look back and will always remember that trip… and probably laugh about it. 🙂