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12 Ways to Make Family Camping Fun

Updated: Dec 7, 2022

Camping is a great way to get out in nature and spend time with your family. However, it can also be a lot of work. If you're not prepared, camping can quickly become a hassle. In this blog post, we will discuss 12 ways to make family camping fun!

10 Tips and Tricks for Family Camping Success

#1. You Can Be a Camping Family

If you never camped as a child, it may seem daunting to camp with your own offspring. But rest assured, camping is for anyone and everyone. With the right gear and some proper planning, it's not difficult at all. The key is simply making the commitment to go—add it to your calendar and invite some friends along too. Camping with kids is always more fun when shared with others!

#2. Pick Your Location

We understand thatfamily camping requires more effort to plan than simply stopping by a Motel 6. If you're unsure of where to go, our best recommendations come from talking to neighbors, friends, and joining relevant community Facebook groups. You can also look up places on or ask park rangers for advice.

Talk to people who have gone camping before and find out what their favorite spots are. Then decide what would be the best fit for your family based on that information

How much time do you want to spend on your trip?

Do you want to be able to relax in a comfortable setting with all the amenities or are you willing to forgo some creature comforts for a more unique experience?

Is there somewhere specific you've always wanted to go, or are you just looking for a place to unwind and clear your mind?

Your desired recreational activities, like fishing and hiking, as well as your better understanding of what you want to experience can help guide where you travel.

#3. Have the Right Gear

What do you have and what do you need? Making a quick checklist of the things you'll need can be very helpful.

Essentials Camping Gear List:

  • Family Camping Tent

  • Sleeping bags (check out our round up of kid ones here)

  • Sleeping pads or Air mattress

  • Lantern/Headlamp

  • Cooler (this one is perfect for a short trip or lunch on the way!)

  • Stove, Fuel, & Lighter

  • Water & Food

  • Cookware & Eating utensils

  • First-aid kit

  • Sunscreen/Bug spray/Hand sanitizer

  • Appropriate clothing

  • Toiletries

The REI Kingdom 6 is our favorite family camping gear because it has all the key pockets, an option for one large open space or two smaller sections, and a full rain cover. Plus, it's easy to erect! The size of your family will affect which tent you choose between the Kingdom 4, 6, or 8.

Another one of our favorite camping gear items is the Goal-Zero lantern. You can hang it up or use its legs to stand it up and adjust the level of light. We also love that it comes with a USB port where you can charge your phone.

Nice to Have Gear:

  • Camping pillow (or old pillow from home)

  • Camping chairs (These are made of mesh and dry off quickly when it rains and keep us from getting too hot when it’s sunny. )

  • Portable crib (if bringing a little one)

  • Camping shade

  • Dry Sacks

  • Dutch oven (heavy duty and easy to clean)

  • Cookware Cleaning Supplies

  • Firewood (and possibly a saw/or ax)]

  • Roasting Sticks

#4. Make your next camping trip with the family hassle-free by following these tips.

A key to making family camping trips successful is to SIMPLIFY. This means your bedtime routine, meals, packing list, and expectations. You don't need to bring all sorts of extras that you won't use; rather focus on the essentials for a great trip.

We love going camping, and some of our best experiences have been when we've spontaneously decided to go for the day or week. This goes to show that as long as you have the right gear, everything else falls into place.

#5. Think about Planning & Serving Your Meals

Planning on going camping with your family? First, freeze gallon water jugs to keep your food cold. If you're planning a longer trip and will need more ice, buy block ice and put it into a dry bag so that there's minimal mess.

Have one cooler for items that need to stay very cold, like dairy. Only open this cooler when you absolutely need to. Drinks and snacks can go in a separate cooler since they don't require ice-cold temperatures. For some families, camp meals are the deciding factor on whether or not they'll go camping again. Keep it simple! You don't have to impress anyone with an extravagant meal spread – simplicity is key when camping

My kids love roasting hotdogs and marshmallows over a fire, eating watermelon, and making s'mores for dessert. All you need are some roasting sticks and a campfire!

If you're looking to save some time and simplify, make some of your family's favorite freezer-friendly dishes like chili or soup. These can be reheated easily in a pre-chilled cooler. Another tip is to prep veggies and fruits for a few days before embarking on your trip. A green salad with toppings is always an easy go-to option when we camp (plus it doesn't create too much of a mess).

The Biolite stove is ideal for anyone who enjoys cooking over an open flame since you can use pellets, charcoal, or wood to control the intensity of the flames. Plus, this would be perfect for making shish kabobs, foil packet veggies or cheeseburgers outdoor.

As far as serving food goes - particularly with kids in mind - we prefer using large mugs so that everything stays contained within one bowl. The enamel mugs from REI are great because they have a handle which makes it easier for little ones to grip onto their meal without dropping anything.

If you have small children, we've found that they're much more comfortable eating on a picnic blanket rather than an adult-sized picnic table. Also, try to buy one with a waterproof backing so it lasts longer. Once you have it, keep it in your car for future camping trips--you'll always find a use for it!

#6. Pack Your Food Away

After you finish dinner, don't forget to do this. I say this from experience--it's incredibly frustrating waking up in the middle of the night hearing a raccoon outside your tent eating Doritos. Even when we think our food is hidden well, we've found that the safest place to keep it at night is in a locked car. This becomes even more important to remember if you're camping in bear country.

#7. Always Bring the Basics

It's easy to get caught up in making sure you have all the right gear for family camping and forget your everyday basics. Make sure each person gets a reusable water bottle and always keep it full and easily accessible. Dehydration is no fun.

Hats, sunglasses, and sunblock should be packed for everyone. Consider investing in sun protective clothing as well. Reapply sunblock throughout the day; this one can be hard to remember but setting alarms on your phone might help..

A camping trip is the perfect opportunity to take some time away from electronic devices and reconnect with nature. But while you want to be prepared for anything, you also don't want to bring your whole house along on the hike. So, in addition to packing sunscreen, bug spray, a first aid kit etc., here are 5 items that will make your family's campout even more fun:

1) A ball or Frisbee

2) Cards or other simple games

3) Sports equipment if there's room

4) Smokeless fire starters (just in case!)

5) S'mores fixings

#8. Cater to Your Kids when Family Camping

Although not much is needed to entertain our kids while camping, it’s essential to still consider them in the packing process. For example, if you have younger children don't forget to pack a baby carrier and chariot or bike trailer. These items can also serve as an extra seat if necessary.

You can also bring along a folding bouncy seat to keep your baby entertained while you do camp chores. A sunshade is a great investment and can really make or break a camping trip, especially if you camp in an area without natural shade. Your baby can nap in the open air, and you can even set it up over a great patch of sand for digging!

I was terrified to go on a family camping trip while potty training my toddler, but it turns out that it wasn't as bad as I thought. Thanks to our portable potty, the trip was saved and my toddler did great!

If your children are older, bring bikes, games (especially handy if it’s pouring rain), and sand toys if you’re by a lake or water. Headlamps, binoculars, slacklines, kites and hammocks can add a lot of fun.

Glow sticks are great for older kids at nighttime and they also help you to keep track of where they’re at.

#9. Relax

After you arrive at the campsite and set up, use that opportunity to recharge by watching your children explore or enjoy nature yourself with walks, hikes, canoeing or biking trips. You can also relax in the tent reading a book if that's more your speed. And remember - you deserve this experience! If camping in a tent seems like too much of a stretch for your comfort levels (which is perfectly understandable), then consider opting for an RV rental instead!

#10. Family Camping: Leave No Trace

Be sure to leave the campsite/area in better condition than when you found it. To do this, send your kids on a hunt to see who can find the most pieces of garbage in the area. Then, make sure the campfire is completely put out before leaving.

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