Are you thinking about taking your family camping for the first time, but you don’t know what you need to do to prepare. Fear not; you have come to the right place. Going camping with your family doesn’t have to be intimidating. By the time you are done reading this, you will be able to plan a fantastic memory-building adventure.
Why go camping?
When I was a kid, my family was very busy. Between my parent’s work schedules, sports, school, and other commitments, sometimes we were only together for a few hours at night. Camping was our way to reconnect with each other. Any free weekend we had in the spring, summer, and fall months was spent outdoors, and those camping trips quickly became my most cherished memories.
We are saturated with technology in the modern world, and it can be hard to step away from it. Going to a place without cellphone service makes it easy to disconnect from the power cords and reconnect with your loved ones. When your children disconnect from their technology, it also gives their imaginations a chance to grow. Your kids won’t remember their best day of watching T.V., but they will never forget their best days camping.
Before you head out, you’ll need to figure out what you’ll stay in. You can stay in a tent, pop-up camper, travel trailer, or cabin. All have their pros and cons.
Tents come in many sizes ranging from one person to ten or more. You can also choose between a synthetic material or a canvas. Synthetic tents are lighter weight and are often easier to set up, but they can tear easily and don’t provide much insulation for the colder seasons. Canvas tents are heavier and more challenging to set up; however, they are made of a more durable material and often come with stoves to provide heat in the cold months.
- Wide price range to fit your budget
- Easy to transport in your car, truck, or SUV
- Easier to find a campsite because they don’t take up a lot of space
- No bathroom, kitchen, or running water in the tent
- Sleeping on the ground can be uncomfortable
Pop-up campers are a great entry-level way to get into camping. They have a solid top and bottom box-like structure that extends vertically, allowing the sleeping platforms to come out horizontally. The sleeping platforms are often covered with a canvas or synthetic material to keep you protected from the elements.
- They are lightweight so that most any vehicle can tow them
- The sleeping platforms have sleeping pads/mattresses for comfort
- Propane hookups for heat and dinette cooking stove
- The option to add a bathroom is available
- They can become hot in the summertime if you don’t park in the shade
- If you don’t have RV parking where you live, you’ll have to find a place to store it
Travel trailers vary in length, features, and size. They are made from a lightweight frame, wrapped in a solid material, and built on a trailer chaise. Travel trailers have many different layouts to ensure you have enough beds for almost any size family.
- Propane heat keeps you warm in the winter, and electric AC units keep your trailer cool in the summer.
- Features available in the kitchen include a stove, oven, freezer, and refrigerator.
- Most bathrooms inside travel trailers have a toilet and shower included
- Plenty of storage to ensure you always have your gear ready to go
- Travel trailers are heavier and will likely require a truck to be used as a tow vehicle.
- Like with pop-up campers, you will need to find a place to store the trailer when it isn’t in use.
Cabins are another fantastic option to get your family outdoors. You can build one, buy one, or rent one. Cabins will vary in size to fit your family’s needs, and they will often have all the best creature comforts you are accustomed to at home.
- They can be used all year, as long as you can get to it.
- Bedrooms provide more privacy.
- They can provide the most space compared to the other options listed above
- Building or purchasing a cabin will be more expensive than the other options listed above.
- If your goal for going camping is to disconnect from technology, being in a cabin might make it challenging.
There are several things to consider when preparing for your camping trip.
- How long will you be gone?
- How will you cook it?
- How will you store it?
How long will you be gone?
When I go camping with my family, I always preplan the meals we will have for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. After I come up with my plan, I prepare the food while I am still at home to cut down on time while on my camping trip.
- I like to make breakfast burritos for a quick and delicious start to my day. You could also bring yogurt, oatmeal, and fruit.
- For lunch, I keep things simple with sandwiches. I buy everyone’s favorite deli meats and condiments or stick with the classic PB&J’s.
- For dinner, I precut vegetables and preseason my meats. I keep all of the ingredients I need for a specific meal in one place, so I don’t have to worry about forgetting anything.
How will you cook it?
There are many options for cooking your food while you are out camping, and it will determine what you pack with you. If you are camping in a pop-up camper, travel trailer, or cabin, you will likely have a stove, oven, or both to work with. If you are camping in a tent, you can bring a small portable stove or a grate that fits over the fire.
How will you store it?
You can bring all the food you want, as long as you have a way to store it. The biggest thing to keep in mind is bears. According to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, there are between 25 and 30 thousand bears in the state. The ODFW website has helpful tips for camping in bear country camping, which can be found here.
Nothing will derail a camping trip faster than being cold and wet. You should always check the weather before you leave and ensure that you have the appropriate clothing. Pack far more clothes than you think you’ll need if your family has young kids because they will get dirty fast!
Things to do
Camping is an excellent way of getting outdoors and being closer to your favorite outdoor activities. Your campsite will serve as your base as you and your family go fishing, hiking, hunting, biking, etc. It’s also important to have things to do if the weather isn’t pleasant, such as board games, books, etc.
If you haven’t gone camping before or have recently purchased a new tent, pop-up camper, or travel trailer, start by going camping in your backyard. It will help you figure out what works for your family and what doesn’t before you are hours away from home.
Once you have successfully stayed the night in your backyard, go camping in one of the many state parks here in Oregon. State parks are a great intermediate step. You are away from your home but still close enough to return quickly if things don’t go according to plan. Oregon has numerous state parks to choose from, and you can make reservations by clicking here.
Camping is a fantastic way for you to reconnect with your family. One of the best parts about camping is customizing your experience. From the accommodations to the food to the recreation, you can ensure that your next camping trip will meet your family’s needs.