As the heat of summer burns off, the nights creep ever so longer, and the air turns crisp and cool, my family returns to our favorite fall tradition — a weekend camping trip.
Even with small kids, camping doesn’t need to feel like an impossibly miserable weekend sleeping on the cold, hard ground. With a little preparation, camping can become a fall favorite for your family too.
Camping starts with a tent
First, make sure you have the right kind of gear. Of course, you’ll want a tent. If you don’t own a tent, borrow one. Just make sure you practice setting it up in your own yard (and check you have all the parts) so you are not surprised or frustrated when you arrive at your campsite. While setting up, make sure your kids are involved in helping too. Have them help arrange the inside of the tent with sleeping bags, pillows and blankets. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can even allow them to hammer in the tent stakes using a rubber mallet.
Cooking over a campfire is a lot of fun, but it can be tricky as well. If possible, cook food in advance so it just needs to be reheated on the campfire (this is especially awesome for bacon). For cooking, nothing is more important than marshmallow roasting sticks. Also, if you want to blow your kids’ minds, use Reese’s Peanut Butter cups instead of chocolate for your s’mores.
Plan your fun
Make sure you have activities planned to complement your camping trip. Do a little research to find a short family trail that all of you can hike, or a nearby nature center. And, have a rain plan. Pack board games, a deck of cards, whatever else you need to wait out a passing rainstorm. Don’t forget, you can always leave if the weather or your child’s behavior gets too bad. You’ll only be out the money you spent on the campsite and at that point you’d probably happily pay that to be back in your own bed anyway.
Oh, I almost forgot, pack you own toilet paper. You can thank me later. And hand sanitizer. Lots of hand sanitizer.