Top Ten Tips for Camping with the Family

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1. Do your
– Camping as an adult is challenging enough.  If you plan to bring the kids make sure you
plan basic activities ahead of time.
Hiking: I like to visit
hiking blogs for reviews to distinguish which trails are child
appropriate.  Distance and terrain are
always of most importance.  Do your
homework and you’ll be less likely to have the dead weight riding piggyback as
you hump up the last stretch of a mountain you didn’t know was there.  Kentucky especially has tons of trails that
are all incline.  Those trails are great
for a workout, not so great for trekking with a toddler.   Here is a link to a site I use to check out
new trails.  

Learning: Most state parks
have great resources for history and local species information.  Do yourself a favor and print it out.  All of it. 
When they ask “why and what” you can look it up.  Or if you’re a “google it” girl like me you
can just pull it up on your smartphone. 
However, having a signal while you’re enjoying the outdoors slightly
defeats the purpose and can be unlikely, so print it out and save yourself the
headache.  If you have any nature savvy
kids that collect species identification books like my 4 year old, bring them along.  It’s a great way to introduce the power of

2. Footwear – Comfortable, safe and
functional.  Crocs are great for slipping
in and out of the tent, but for goofing around in nature they just don’t cut it
and can be downright dangerous.  Bring
the crocs or flops, but make sure to pack comfy tennis shoes and socks.  Blisters are a beast and can ruin everyone’s
good time.  Remember, you may be good at
hopping over puddles, but chances are whatever footwear you bring is going to
get wet and muddy so make sure they are durable and washable.  Waterproof is always a plus.  Good shoes are expensive, but if you’re a
camping family or plan to become one, they are certainly a worthwhile
investment.  Check out these adorable
little waterproof boots.  

3. Campfire Food – It’s safe to say that one of the fondest
memories that make a kid’s first camping experience is cooking over a
campfire.  Marshmallows…YES…Hotdogs…sure,
ok.  We now have interest people.  Get creative. 
Do a Pinterest search on campfire food and create your grocery
list.  Having a meal plan is priceless. 

4.  Checklists
making sure you have everything efficiently packed for yourself is difficult
enough.  Packing for your kids as well
always adds to the challenge.  Clean
underwear or their favorite teddy bear take on a whole new meaning when the
kids are sleeping under the stars for the first time.  Homely comforts are always a good idea.  We all know if they don’t sleep, we aren’t sleeping
either.  Do yourself a favor and make a
list for everything.  You may feel like
you’re over doing it, but reassure yourself that if ever you let your OCD get
the better of you, this is the appropriate time.  You are in good company.  There are general checklists available online
for just about every aspect of camping. 
Use them and you will be thankful later. 

5. Plan and RESERVE your location carefully and in advance – (Especially during a holiday
weekend) All of our state parks have a great reservation service called Reserve America.  This site is such a great
resource.  It allows you to see which
site each park currently still has available for reservation.  If you have children with special needs it
allows you to determine the accessibility and layout of each campground.   We enjoy camping in wooded area sites while some people are just the opposite. 
Whenever I have a specific question about my site I call the park ranger
and they are usually extremely helpful with regards to specifics.

6. Take lots of wet wipes – When our children are messy and there is no running water
wet wipes are our best and only hope. 
Camping is all about getting dirty and having fun with nature so a
certain level of filth and funk is to be expected.  That doesn’t mean we can’t wipe them down
every so often to keep them from contaminating the rest of us. 

7. Pack a First Aid kit – scratches and cuts are common when we camp and having an antibacterial
wipe and a Band-Aid can really save the day and keep their little parts safe
from infection.  I always throw together
a couple first-aid packs in Ziplocs with sunscreen, Neosporin and a few Band-Aids
of varying sizes.  You just never know.

8. Make them work for their supper – Well, what I truly mean by that is…anyone who has made a
campfire know that is takes a lot of patience and consistent attention.  Well…kinda like your children.  One of my least favorite chores at a campsite
is going around and picking up kindling, which is just a fancy word for little
sticks or leaves or anything that will burn beneath the large logs.  Which is perfect, because every time I go
anywhere with my kids I am constantly asking them to put down the sticks,
because in a normal situation they will eventually either harm themselves or
someone close to them…usually me or a sibling. 
So here’s their big chance.  Pick-up
sticks…make a pile…whoever collects the most wins.  It will be a hit and it will allow you to
reserve your energy for something beyond bending over a million times just to
find that the stick you thought you found was just a stinkin old root and won’t
budge…grrr.  Aren’t kids great?  You can even pay them in graham
crackers.  Total win/win.

9. Trial Run –
Maybe your kids are a little green and you’re not quite sure they can
hang.  Have a trial run right in your own
backyard.  Sometimes this is just as fun
and provides all the conveniences of home just steps away.  There is something magical about stepping out
under the stars with your children and truly spending time with them and
introducing them to simple things that do not require batteries or a
remote.  We all need to unplug.  It’s a wonderful thing to do for yourself and
an even better thing to do for your family. 
So set up a tent behind the porch, crack some glow sticks and talk about
what animals are making that sound they never heard before.  Turn everything off and turn family time on.

10. Make memories
I will always say, when it comes to camping it comes down to three things.  Planning, preparations and a healthy appetite
for adventure.  Kids grow up so quickly
and camping with them is a great way to slow time down.  Relax and listen to them.  Share in their curiosity and make it an
adventure they will never forget.  Bring
baggies for souvenirs like rocks and shells. 
Kentucky and
the surrounding area are home to some of the most beautiful natural
treasures.  Camping is a great
inexpensive way for you and your family to find appreciation for those things.  Nature is inspiring and sometimes physically
demanding.  So, be prepared, but most
importantly be impressed and share the experience of camping with your little
ones.  They will be grateful that you

By guest contributor: Whitney

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