Camping is not, as they say, “getting away from it all,” the Concord (N.H.) Monitor’s LiveWell magazine reported.
This is true whether you’re a devotee of old-school, roughing-it style camping, handy with an ax and happy with a can of beans, or a modern-day, luxury-style camper, never without your cable TV and sub-zero fridge stocked with four kinds of mustard and a week’s worth of marinated meat.
And it’s especially true if you’ve got children. Camping with kids requires lots of planning and list-making, oodles of patience and a healthy amount of scout-like optimism. But if you’re up to the task, it can be one of the most memorable experiences your family will undertake together. If you’re new to the camping scene, here are a few tips for a fabulous maiden voyage.
Find your camping style
Camping is many things to many people. Some folks are looking to escape city life, while others love the hubbub of a camping “community.”
Some families are all about the cool gear (budget be damned), while others love the idea of getting by with whatever they can stuff in a couple of knapsacks.
Before you rush out and buy an RV or book a summer’s worth of campsites, spend some time reflecting on what you want to get out of the experience.
Select a campground
The good news is, campgrounds LOVE kids. Get ready for relay races, ice-cream sundae bars, movie nights, hayrides, tricked-out playgrounds, water slides, camp stores with lots of kid-priced doo-dads and more.
“Everything’s becoming a lot more kid friendly,” said Jeremy Sprince, executive director of the New Hampshire Campground Owners Association. “Campgrounds are putting in more and more activities for families.”
At Moose Hillock Campground in Warren, for example, kids can wear themselves out on a pirate ship complete with water slides.
Danforth Bay Camping Resort in Freedom has an arts and crafts center and seemingly non-stop family activities.
Consider how long to stay
When my own family was camping, we rarely planned our trips more than a week ahead because we simply didn’t want to go to the trouble if the weather wasn’t going to accommodate us. We also decided that three days and nights was the magic number. Any shorter than that, and we’d feel as though we were spending more time packing and unpacking than we did relaxing. And longer, and the joy of family togetherness started to wear thin.
Trying to figure out everything your family will need for a full weekend or more in the “great outdoors” can be pretty daunting, especially if your kids are little and still require an entourage just to get out the door. Start with a comprehensive checklist (there are plenty online), and tailor it to your own needs. More importantly, expect to forget or overlook some stuff: That’s what camp stores are for! And most campgrounds are close enough to “civilization” that you can make a grocery run with relative ease.
One way to eliminate some of the hassle that goes with packing is to rent accommodations at a campground. Rentals – which can include anything from RVs to cabins to yurts and teepees – are one of the fastest-growing trends at campgrounds, Sprince said. Check out the options by visiting ucampnh.com and clicking on “find a campground.”
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