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Before we know it, school will be out of session. For me and my family, this is a time of year that we’re able to slow down, reconnect with each other, and make some lifelong memories. I hope the same is true for you. Camping with the family is a worthwhile endeavor. All the obvious challenges that come to mind can be resolved with a little pre-planning and knowing exactly what you and your family needs to make your trip a success.

Choose the Right Campground

The most important thing to consider is your campground. Making the best choice depends on your desired experience. There are three types of campgrounds that can guide your planning. Be sure to do your research and make your reservations in advance (many of the popular parks fill up quickly).

State Parks and private campgrounds could be ideal if your family is planning its first camping experience. The cabins at Cumberland Mountain State Park overlooking Byrd Lake come to mind. Many campgrounds often provide comfortable accommodations and full amenities along with a social atmosphere and planned group activities.

RV Camping is the ideal middle ground between staying in a cabin and a more rugged experience. For example, an RV trip to Yellowstone. Accessible by car, these well-maintained campgrounds don’t offer the same packaged opportunities for social interactions, but have shareable amenities for all campers with easy access to the usual outdoor activities that you’ll love.

Backcountry camping is a secluded, deep-woods experience, and usually quite a hike into the woods. These campsites are little more than well-maintained cut-outs that offer minimal amenities – a fire pit, maybe a picnic table. Much more of a rugged connection to nature, this type of undertaking depends on your comfort level and experience (not to mention the ages of your kids).

Plan Your Activities

Nature Scavenger Hunt
Encourage your kids to embrace adventure! Create a list with thumbnail images of all the things they need to find in the forest and let them explore nature at their own pace. Make sure that you only include things on the list that are okay to be moved. We want to be as low-impact on the environment as possible. You can also try something similar – like a Wild Life Eye-Spy.

Make Their Own Map
Once they’ve had a chance to explore the space and get a sense for the lay of the land, ask the kids to make their own map. If they need to, let them go back out and survey the area. This is a creative and educational way for them to engage with their environment.

Campfire
Let the kids be involved with preparing and cooking your family meals over the fire. Have everyone decorate their own skewers for roasting marshmallows and making s’mores. Sing songs – silly songs, classics from your youth, or devotionals. Tell your stories. Take this time to share the family history and let your kids get to know you better. After all, that’s what this trip is all about!

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