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Who doesn’t love to camp? Can you guess how many people go camping each year? Millions! In fact, nearly 80 million American households head out and camp every year, according to the 2019 KOA North American Camping Report.
Families enjoy camping in cabins, yurts, RVs and tents, but tents are the most popular shelter.
In the summer you may be fortunate enough to travel to a campground in a lovely park in the woods or even by a seashore or lake. You might even get to stay over in a place like the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, in North Carolina and Tennessee, which attracts more than 12 million visitors a year.
But, even if you are sticking closer to home, camping can be a fun, meaningful experience right in your yard or even inside your home.
Why bother to set up camp at home? Well, it’s a great family bonding activity and an important learning exercise.
Parents need to guide the kids to some degree, but the goal is for children to take part in discussing, planning, coordinating and helping with the activities. They will love it, and it will keep them busy for at least a few days!
Here are six ideas for brainstorming a plan that will lead to a gratifying family camping experience:
• Gear up: Gather the basics, such as a tent and sleeping bag, foam or inflatable pads, etc. Make a point to assemble a basic First Aid Kit (kids should help to reinforce safety).
• Firm up a plan: Make a list of things you’ll want as you sleep out under the stars, such as snacks, playing cards, flashlights and comic books (this will limit the in-and-out, I-forgot factor).
• Study the skies: Whether you have a telescope or not, build in time to lay on a blanket and look at the moon, stars, constellations, or maybe even the aurora borealis (northern lights).
• Capture moments: Use a camera or cell phone to catalog your activities, as well as plants, flowers, wildlife, birds and bugs you see (create a photo album later).
• Plan meals: Combine the tenting with a cookout, with hot dogs and beans, and maybe s’mores (marshmallow and chocolate filled graham crackers) or just pack sandwiches. Keep plenty of cold drinks in a cooler.
• Pick a few activities: You might be able to take a sundown hike before settling down for guitar playing and singing, hand-shadow play on tent walls, or storytelling time (save this for last so the kids drift off to sleep).
Why not get started right now? Gather your family and start your own list of home-camping ideas.
You’ll be on your way to a great family camping adventure – no matter where you decide to do it. One final bit of advice: stick with the plan, rain or shine.
The is nothing like the sound of gentle rain pattering on the tent sides as you share stories or read comic books by flashlight.