Camping is a great way for the whole family to enjoy quality time together. It is best to start out when the kids are young, but getting older kids to go can be quite enjoyable also, if you can pry them away from their electronic entertainment. Camping gives a family the chance to reconnect with each other without all the outside trappings that we live with today. Remove the computer, TV, game boy, cell phone/pager, and you will be amazed how easy it is to get everyone’s full attention. When my siblings and I were very young, everybody looked forward to the camping trips we took regularly―they were fantastic adventures. And despite having to rough it for a few days―or perhaps because of having to rough it―my parents benefited from getting away from all the daily distractions. Camping is now easier than ever, with all the new equipment and camping gear, and family campgrounds popping up all over the place.
Camping does not need to be expensive, either. You can rent most of the equipment you’ll need locally, or just use your imagination and travel light. Tents can be had for a reasonable price, and then you could use your own blankets as sleeping bags. Bring whatever you will need from home to prepare meals. The best idea when it comes to food preparation for a camping trip is to keep it simple. One well-made cooler can carry sandwich meat, cheese, fresh vegetables, and eggs; nobody’s going to starve if they have to do without a four-course meal for several days. (Most folks would benefit from skipping a meal now and then anyway.) Get the kids involved, and all will enjoy the experience. Most campsites have a grill or pit for starting a fire for warmth, food preparation, or just plain fun. No five-star restaurant can beat the flavor of a steak grilled at a campsite, and for dessert, s’mores beat tiramisu hands down.
You can use your car; you don’t necessarily need a 4-wheel drive vehicle, as almost all campgrounds are easily navigable. Many modern campgrounds even have paved roads, laundry areas, hot showers, and sometimes small convenience stores. You can camp for as little as a weekend or all the way through to a two-week or longer vacation―there is no limit to where or how long you can enjoy this great outdoor activity.
Once you decide you want to take the family camping, you have to decide where and when to go. This is what makes camping so much fun, because the wide variety of choices available makes it easy for your family to get back to nature and see things you’ve only watched on TV or heard about. There is no greater feeling than seeing things live right before your eyes. There is literally an endless supply of places to camp. On selecting the right time, you need to be aware of seasonal considerations. Off-season camping is the most enjoyable to many people, because there are very few people around. Fewer people means less competition for the best campsite, and the more vacant campsites there are, the quieter and more peaceful your evening will be. Sometimes, having fewer people around makes camping more enjoyable, simply because wild animals will be more plentiful without a lot of activity scaring them off. If one was to camp every day for his entire life, he could never visit all the places available for camping in North America―probably not even in two or three lifetimes.
There are lots of great resources that will help ensure that your camping trip is a terrific experience that you and your family will never forget. If you belong to the AAA auto club, they have excellent resource books available on each state and camping, updated each year, and they are free to members. Your state or local government will also have a lot of info about all the camping in various local jurisdictions, particularly historical areas and state parks. Maps, periodicals, and camping guides are useful on every camping trip, because they are excellent resources for finding just what you need and when you need it. If you plan to do a lot of camping, it’s easy to put together a permanent packet of resources in a briefcase or small suitcase to take with you everywhere you go. Be sure to replace outdated material once a year.
Remember, you have to get away sometime―from the job, TV, computer, and daily life―and there’s no better way to escape than by taking your family camping. The sooner you do, the better off you and your family will be. Most of all, have fun!
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