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Growing up I loved camping with my parents and this year I decided it was time to take the kids on their first family camping experience. Camping can be a fantastic experience for kids: it not only gives them the opportunity to connect with nature, explore and learn but it also instills in them a sense of independence and feeds children’s sense of adventure. As a parent camping can be a wonderful opportunity for bonding, creating family memories and provide with many teachable moments. However I won’t sugar coat it: camping is hard work and although it’s well worth it it’s important to be prepared so ensure a fun time for everyone.
My Best Family Camping Tips
Find the the right gear. When it comes to family camping comfort and ease are the two most important things. If you will be camping with small children you will need gear that is very different to the gear you would need if you where backpacking on your own. Opt for an easy to pitch tent and choose a tent that has space for at least two more people than the number of family members camping. Inflatable mattresses and cots are a good option for first time campers and fun sleeping bags will go a long way to motivate the kids. If you have the opportunity to borrow equipment from a friend or family member before you buy that may give you an idea of what you want and do not want before you commit to buying it.
Do a trial run at home. After buying all of our gear we pitched the tent in the back yard and slept there. We got the kids involved in the process which got them excited about our backyard adventure and also gave them a clear idea of what to expect when we went camping.
Check the weather. This might seem obvious but double check the weather before you leave and make sure you have everything you need. Remember that 50 degrees Fº while sleeping outdoors feels a lot colder so be well prepared for cold weather, warm weather or rain.
Keep cooking simple. Many campgrounds have grills or you can also take a portable grill with you. Keeping food simple and sticking to things you are familiar with grilling at home will minimize the probability of cooking something that no one will eat, which can be an issue when camping with kids. Be sure to bring your kid’s favorite non perishable snacks in case of emergency along with lots of liquids and sweet treats like apple sauce, or s’mores.
Make sure you are in good physical shape. Camping is a lot of fun but it’s also a lot of work, specially when camping with small children as most of the work falls on the shoulders (sometimes literally) of the adults. As one gets older it is important to maintain strong bones and flexible joints. Camping involves lots of physical activity from lugging around camping gear to doing all sorts of fun physical activities out in nature like kayaking, swimming (well maybe not in Florida unless it’s at the beach) and hiking so it’s important that you are in good physical shape. I get the bone health benefits of Calcium, Vitamin D3 and Magnesium, plus Vitamin C, Zinc and More† to support joint health with just one tablet – Caltrate® Bone & Joint Health*.
Get the kids involved. From packing to pitching the tent and helping prepare food kids can be a lot of help and helping out will also make them feel important, boost their self esteem and promote independence. You can start out by getting them to help you pack with camping packing lists you can also get them involved by asking them about their idea on what to do, what to eat etc. and taking that feedback into account when planning your camping trip. Once at the campground assigns chores to every member of the family, simple things like gathering wood, keeping the tent clean, washing the dishes, etc. and praise them for their work.
Don’t forget the fun element. From roasting marshmallows on a campfire to playing games like camping scavenger hunts and geocaching. For our first camping trip we bought some head lamps and glow sticks which the kids loved to play with during the dark nights. We also took a couple of simple toys like a frisbee, paddle ball or a ball. If the weather is hot toys for water play are always a big hit.
Balance safety and adventure. It’s important to be prepared and be safe. Be sure to bring a sunblock, bug spray and a first aid kit. Read up on the area where you will be camping to find out about the wildlife that you may encounter as well as familiarizing yourself and the kids with poison oak and poison ivy and what it looks like so they can avoid it. Set clear safety rules and campground rule. Teach the kids how to use compass and provide them with whistle that they can carry around their neck. Once safety rules have been established you also need to let them explore a little, let them get dirty, climb a tree and encourage them to investigate.
One of my greatest motivations for taking good care of my health is so that I can stay active and enjoy activities like camping, hiking, etc. with my family. Some of the steps I take to stay healthy include eating well, working out regularly and taking vitamins and supplements like Caltrate® Bone & Joint Health*.
Caltrate® Bone & Joint Health*is exclusively available in-store at Walgreens. When buying it I was thrilled to get it cheaper as there is a price reduction ($11.99) in October. To save even more look for the $4.00 Sunday Newspaper Coupon that will be available on 10/2/2016.
† Refers to Copper, Manganese and UC-II®. UC-II® collagen supports healthy cartilage, promoting joint flexibility and health*.
*This statement has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease