In this day in age, getting a breath of fresh air is extremely important. Spending time with family is also extremely important. One way to do both is to go on a family camping trip. Camping can be a fulfilling and rewarding experience that can bring a family closer. Just think about all the memories you can make with your family away from all the technology. Yes, I said, AWAY from all the technology. Camping is a way to gain freedom within nature and allows you to just relax. Not only that, camping is a relatively inexpensive “vacation” that the family will love!
My family goes on a camping trip every year. We love it as it’s a great way for us to just drop everything, become stress free, and get away from life for a little bit. We have gotten really good at planning and packing for our camping trips throughout the years, but that wasn’t always the case. As simple as it may sound, we got good at planning and packing because we started making a list of everything we needed for our family camping trip. Lists aren’t always perfect and its easy to forget things, even on your list. This is why Camping Mastery came up with the family camping list, so you won’t have to worry about anything!
Check out the Ultimate Family Camping Guide below. It’s everything you need to know, so that you will have a successful family camping trip!
Click to JUMP!
- Planning Your Trip Before You Go
- Camping Gear
- Camping Activities
- How to Start and Manage a Campfire
- Camping Meals
- Cleaning Up Camp
Planning Your Trip Before You Go:
So, you want to take the whole family camping huh? Well, you are going to need to plan! Believe it or not, planning can be one of the hardest things about a family camping trip. There are a lot of decisions that need to be made. In order for your family camping trip to be successful, you must properly plan your trip! (Yes, I realize planning can be a hassle, but it will be well worth it!). Some of the questions you may want to ask yourself include:
- Where do we want to go camping at?
- When do we want to go camping?
- What does the weather look like for the dates we are going?
- How long do we want to camp for?
Where you go camping is a very important decision in regards to your camping trip. There are a lot of factors that should play into that decision. Since you have decided to take the whole family camping, you should ensure that the campground you choose has tent sites that will be big enough for your family. Also, if you are going to need multiple camp sites (Because your family is BIG), than you will need to look into whether you can get those camp sites next to each other (That way you can get that extra bonding time in!). Like mine, your family might also include a furry friend (aka your dog), so you should ensure that the campground you pick is pet friendly. Now on to the biggest factor of choosing where to camp (At least this is the biggest factor in my family), which is, does the campground have facilities? Facilities such as bathrooms and showers. My guess is that if you are taking the whole family camping, you are going to want a place to go!
There are plenty of places to go camping from national parks, national forests, state parks, RV parks, and an endless amount of private campgrounds. Some of the the best online sites to book and find campgrounds near you or wherever you want to go are reserveamerica.com and recreation.gov.
The next question you are going to have to tackle is, when are we going to go camping? In my humble opinion, the best time to go camping, especially if you are new to camping, is the summer. The reason I think the summer is the best time to go is because:
- It is the time of the year with the most sunlight
- It is the warmest time of year, so it will not be freezing at night
- It might be easier to coordinate the families schedule to go camping (The kids are out of school)
The one downside of camping in the summer is the higher risk of a thunderstorm, which is why you will want to check the weather before you go to make sure you are prepared for rain or shine!
The last item for planning needs to be, how long are we camping for? My suggestion that if this is your first family camping trip, than you will want to go for a weekend trip or a one night trip. This will help you decide whether or not your family will enjoy the camping experience. If you already know that your family will enjoy camping or you already go camping as a family, then you might want to go for a week. But it is totally up to you and your family how much time you want to spend camping. In my mind there is never enough time!
You can’t just hop in the car and start camping, you are going to need some gear. The type of gear you will need will depend on what type of camping you are doing. I will list out what you will need and what extra things you can get.
- Sleeping Bag
- Cot (If you don’t want to sleeping on the ground)
- Camp Stove
- Matches or lighter
- Frying Pan and Cooking Pot
- Utensils (1 per person)
- Plates, Bowls, and Cups (1 per person)
- Cutting Board
- Dish soap
- Trash bags
- First-aid Kit
- Hand Sanitizer
- Toothbrush and Toothpaste
- Toilet Paper
Clothing & Footwear
- Long Sleeve Shirts
- Rain Jacket
- Sleeping Pad
- Solar Charger
- Water bottles
- Bug sprey
- Paper towels
- Lawn games
If you are going to go camping with your family, you are going to want something to do! You can’t have the family just sitting around doing nothing the whole time. There are many different camping activities that you and your family will love!
There is nothing better than spending some quality time on the trails with your family. Hiking is one of the best ways to enjoy the outdoors, while getting exercise at the same time. Whether it is hiking through the woods, around a lake, or to the peak of a mountain, hiking can produce some of the most amazing views you will ever see. And who better to share the views with than your family.
Now, you and your family shouldn’t just start walking into the woods without a plan. When planning your family hiking trip, you should acquire a trail map from the campground you are staying at. You should also inquire with a park ranger, if there are any, to get trail recommendations on trails that will best suit you and your family. You will want to choose a trail that will please everyone in your family (Which may be hard sometimes). After you have picked the hike you are going to want to pack for your adventure.
When packing for your hiking adventure, there are some items you will definitely want to have:
- Snacks (Granola bar, nuts, dried fruit, beef jerky)
- First-aid kit
- Trail map
Hiking is one of those activities that can really bring a family together and can be extremely rewarding. To be able to finish a trail with your family, no matter if it was short or long, will be a memory you will have for a lifetime.
Lawn games are activities that anyone in the family can play. You can never be too young or old to start playing lawn games. Being outdoors in nature is the perfect opportunity to break out the lawn games and can even bring out the competition in your family. Here is a list of the best lawn games to play while camping with your family:
If you and your family are camping at a campground with a lake or creek, there are many activities that you can do in the water.
Kayaking can be a perfect water adventure for you and your family. Imagine you and your family paddling around the lake making memories. Make sure you and your family stay safe out on the water, check out REI’s tips for a safe and fun day kayaking.
Swimming is a perfect summer camping activity, especially for the kids. If you and your family want to go swimming during your camping trip, you should make sure that the campground you are staying at has designated swimming areas. Some campgrounds may even have a swimming pool. So, before you head out for your camping trip, you should look into if you can swim or not. If there are swimming areas, than you and your family will want to bring your swim gear.
I saved the most tasty camping activity for last. S’mores are the classic camping food. There is nothing better than making a s’more after a long day of camping. Picture this: You are sitting at an open campfire with your family telling stories and sharing laughs while devouring a delicious s’more. I don’t see how there can be anything better than that! In order to make a classic s’more, you will need some supplies:
- Graham crackers
- Roasting sticks
One of the great things about s’mores is that you don’t have to make them the traditional way. There are tons of different s’mores recipes out there. Or make your own s’mores recipe. Come up with one that the whole family will like, don’t be afraid to be creative!
How to Start and Mange a Campfire:
Making a campfire is one of those “essential” things that should be done while camping! If this is your first time camping or you have never made a campfire, then it can be a little tricky the first time you do it. I want your family to have the best camping trip possible, so I am going to tell you how to start and manage your campfire in a way that is easy to understand and safe.
I first want to state that safety should be your first priority. You need to make sure you read the rules and guidelines wherever you are staying, to make sure that campfires are allowed. Most campgrounds will have designated campfire rings. When I was camping out west at Mesa Verde National Park, campfires were not allowed at the time because everything was too dry. This brings me to my next point, make sure you are building your campfire away from trees and dry grass. You do not want to be RESPONSIBLE for a forest fire.
Starting a Campfire
In order to start a campfire, you will need to gather wood. You will need three types of wood. Make sure the wood is fairly dry, so that it will catch fire.
- Tinder – Leaves, dry bark, wood shavings (These are the items that will catch fire fast)
- Kindling – Twigs and branches (Bigger than tinder, will catch fire after the tinder)
- Fuel Wood – Large pieces of wood (This is what will keep your fire going)
For me the easiest method for making a fire is the cone or tipi method. You will first want to put down some handfuls of tinder in the center of the campfire ring. Second, you will place your kindling in a tipi shape around the tinder. Third, you will light the fire with a match or lighter. Make sure to blow on the fire lightly to get the fire going. Last, once the fire is going, place the fuel wood around the kindling in a tipi shape.
Managing the Fire
When you see that the fire is dying down, continue to add more fuel wood when needed. Always have someone there to keep watch to make sure the fire is under control.You may even want to have someone to continue to gather fuel wood and kindling.
Putting Out the Fire
When putting out your campfire, you need to first use water to “drown” the campfire. Second, you should mix the ashes and coals, and then stir them around with water. Last, before you leave your fire make sure the coals are cool to the touch before you leave. DO NOT leave your fire if the coals are still warm to the touch. Remember that safety should be the first priority, so you need to make sure that the fire is completely out before you leave it unattended.
Well if you are going to go camping, you are going to need to eat some food at some point. If your family is anything like my family, then people are bound to start to get “hangery”. Don’t worry, Camping Mastery has the perfect camping meal ideas for your family.
Hot Dogs and Hamburgers
Hot dogs and hamburgers are classic camping meal! You can grill them on a campstove or cook them over an open campfire. This is a meal that the whole family should love!
My personal favorite camping meal is a mountain pie! A mountain pie is a delicious sandwich made from whatever you like! You take two pieces of bread and put any toppings in-between the bread, and then place it in the mountain pie maker. There are many different types of mountain pies you are your family will want to try!
- Pizza mountain pie
- Ham and cheese mountain pie
- Apple pie mountain pie
- Steak and cheese mountain pie
You can make pretty much anything and all you need is just a little bit of aluminum foil! Foil pack meals are great for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Take some chicken or steak, put it in the foil with some veggies and potatoes. Then throw it over a fire and BAM you have a full meal! Check out https://www.delish.com/cooking/recipe-ideas/g2854/foil-pack-recipes/ for great foil pack meal ideas!
Create your own Breakfast Sandwich
Yummmm… I can smell the bacon and sausage already. A camping breakfast sandwich is sure to be family favorite. Bacon, sausage, and eggs cooked on a campfire smothered with cheese between a bagel or English muffin! The sandwich can be made over an open campfire or a camp stove, whichever you like!
Add a touch of home to your breakfast. Bring your favorite pancake recipe and a griddle. There is nothing like waking up in a tent knowing that there will be delicious pancakes for breakfast. These should give the family energy to go on a nice day hike!
Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal
This is a sure fire breakfast to get you ready for a big day of camping. Boil some water over the campfire, add the oats and simmer for around 10 minutes. Make sure you stir occasionally. Final step is to add some maple syrup, cinnamon, and fresh apple slices!
For some amazing camping breakfast ideas, check out https://www.countryliving.com/food-drinks/g4262/camping-breakfast-recipes/
Cleaning up Camp
Now that your camping trip with your family has come to an end, you are going to need to clean up your campsite! You and your family should restore the campsite to the condition it was in when you got there, or in some cases better condition from when you got there. All garbage should be thrown away and all metal/plastic should be recycled. Most campgrounds have dumpsters where you can throw away your trash. You and your family should utilize these to your advantage.
It is important to keep the campgrounds clean in order for other families to camp and have the same experience you did. You should also throw away your food in a trashcan and not just dump it in the woods. Wildlife does not need a taste of your food. So, make sure you bring lots of trash bags and double check the campsite before you leave to make sure everything is cleaned up!! No trace should be left behind!