Family Camping a Summer Must

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Time is going to too fast. My oldest daughter just turned 10 and my youngest is almost nine. Where did the years go? Looking back through pictures, I know we’ve done well with family adventures. I hope they cherish the memories as much as I do, but they need to be ready to make a lot more before they’re grown up. I don’t intend to let the rest of their childhoods slip away with out making the most of the time we have left. We’ll be camping a lot.

Camping is such a relaxing form of outdoor enjoyment. Gathering with family and friends, or going at it solo, campers seek to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life. For a great camping experience, don’t over complicate things with too much gear, but be sure to have what you need.

The values of camping are many. Few activities offer a greater venue for communing with nature. Camping allows us to slow down and experience simplicity as our ancestors did only a couple of hundred years ago: sleeping in primitive shelters, heating and cooking with fire, watching the stars slide across the night sky and listening to the melodious sounds of animals and insects. Camping is meant to be easy. It is meant to eliminate stress. So don’t make it stressful. Select the right equipment, no more or less than you need, and relax.

Shelter is number one. Either you’re going to be sleeping in a tent or a recreational vehicle (camper). If you’re new to camping, then you’re most likely going to use a tent. There are many different styles of tents. For the new campers, a basic family style tent is what you want. Size, weather resistance and ease of setup are important factors to consider. Many brands make quality tents for family campers that sell at affordable prices. Plenty of more expensive options are available, but for new campers the basic family tent should suffice.

Double the number of people you‘ll have sleeping in the tent to figure out what size you need. For example, if there will be two people in your tent then I recommend a four person model. When you consider needing room for bags, perhaps a dog, and more, tents can fill up quick. It’s better to have too much room, as opposed to too little.

After securing your shelter, you need to consider bedding. Sleeping bags are great, but not necessary. Layered blankets will work. Don’t forget pillows. I’ve slept too many nights on rolled up sweatshirts. No one will tease you for taking along an air mattress. Cots are great too. Not only are they comfortable, but also the space underneath is great for storing gear.

Do you want to cook or are you going to make sandwiches and cereal? If you want to cook, invest in a camp stove and utensils. Are you going to roast marshmallows? If so, bring a roasting stick with you. Don’t count on finding the right ones in the forest. A few other essentials to pack include, bug spray, a water jug, a clothesline, towels and games, like a frisbee or bocce ball. Firewood is much cheaper if you cut it yourself. If that’s not an option, vendors sell it around most campgrounds.

Some of my best memories from childhood are from camping trips with my parents. Don’t think you can’t go camping because it’s too complicated. In the beginning, just cover the essentials, and acquire more gear as interest grows. We are all on borrowed time. Make the most of it.

See you down the trail…

Brandon Butler


Need a camping destination? Read why the Ozarks are a great spot.


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