When I was growing up, my family always took two vacations every summer: one to the beach, and one to a campground.
My dad would spend weeks preparing for our annual “roughing it,” in the woods, sleeping in tents and eating nothing we couldn’t cook on a grill or over a campfire. (These days my mom says her idea of roughing it is a hotel that doesn’t have five stars.)
Dad would make lists and menus, shop for camp “stuff” like camp soap and a little plastic egg carton, check all our camping gear for holes and cracks, pack a cooler with stuff for griddle cakes and breakfast sandwiches and homemade cornbread. We had an old-fashioned propane lantern and a screen tent that occasionally kept a mosquito at bay. We loaded up our van until there was barely room for us and headed off for a few days of adventure and family time.
Some of my fondest childhood memories are from those camping trips, (like the year it rained from the minute we arrived to the minute we left, but we stuck it out for four days), and I’m certain my love of planning and packing was born from watching my dad’s joyful camping preparations.
There is nothing like a camping trip to bring your family closer together. There’s no wifi, no DVR, but plenty of time for catching up, telling stories and making memories.
If you’re sold on the idea of a family camping trip, here are some great ideas to make your trip one to remember.
Camping recipes – Plan a menu using ingredients that you can incorporate into more than one meal, to cut back on the amount you’ll need to pack. One-pot recipes are the best for camping, because your access to a kitchen sink for washing up will probably be limited. The recipes here are all adapted for easy campsite preparation. This is an awesome idea for camp-sized spice storage.
Mason jar lanterns – What a great pre-camping project for the kids! Maybe you can find some Mason jars in your basement or at a thrift store, and I’m sure I’ve seen LED candles at the dollar store. Since the flameless candles don’t require oxygen you can screw on the jar lid and have candlelight even in the pouring rain! Fasten a length of twine around the neck of the jar to hang from hooks or trees once you arrive at your campsite. Don’t forget extra batteries!
Things to pack for a camping trip – Tent, check. Sleeping bag, check. What else do you need? Don’t forget other necessities like a water bottle and toilet paper. Make sure your tent has poles and stakes. You’ll need matches or a lighter (or both) to get a fire started. Check this list, and personalize it for yourself and your family. Here’s another list geared towards backpackers.
Homemade outdoor bowling game – Fill two-liter soda bottles with water and a few drops of food coloring. Mark the bowling lane with streamers, and have family members take turns resetting the bowling “pins.” One Pinner suggests adding glow sticks to the bottles for nighttime bowling games.
Protect your toilet paper – TP can be your number one (and two) commodity on a camping trip. Don’t let it get wet or attacked by animals! Just cut a slit in a plastic coffee container and punch holes for twine to hang the container.
What’s your favorite camping survival or preparation tip? Share your ideas in the comments below!