Looking for a new way to experience the outdoors this summer? Take the family on a camping trip! “When you get your kids out in the woods, they forget about their video games and start using their imaginations,” says Helen Olsson, author of The Down and Dirty Guide to Camping with Kids. Plus, it’s a great way to bond. Here are some things to keep in mind for your first outing:
Olsson recommends picking a campground that’s not too far from home for first timers, “so if things go south, you can pull the plug.” And keep it short—a couple of nights, max—to get your family’s feet wet.
Keep your child’s age in mind
“Kids can camp at any age, even babies, since they’re so portable,” Olsson says. But watch your toddlers closely—they require more attention, since their exploratory nature means they’re more likely to wander off. “Plus, they tend to put everything—even rocks—in their mouths.”
Make mealtime simple
“Prep as much as you can at home,” Olsson suggests. “Chop veggies and put spices in reusable backs.” Eat any perishables on the first day, saving pastas or a frozen stew for day two, since “you can just cook those on the camp stove.”