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HomeOutdoorsCampingCamping 101— Tips for a Successful First Camping Trip

Camping 101— Tips for a Successful First Camping Trip

A great camping trip with kids requires lots of advance planning and a go-with-the flow attitude once you are there. Be prepared and you won’t have much to worry about when little things go array.

These tips will help your first camping trip be a success

1. Let your kids help with the planning.

The more they know what to expect, the more excited they will be and more anxious to help. No one likes surprises – well almost no one. With some prompting from you, your kids can help decide:
Where to go – pick some place you know for the first time
What to eat – snacks and easy meals to prepare or take pre-packaged
What to do – games, swimming, fishing, exploring
What to take – one lovey

2. Packing

Take more clothes for each child than you think you’ll need. Let them carry and be responsible for one backpack each that includes their lovey, a flashlight or headlamp, one snack, one water bottle, one change of clothes. Do you need to bring a portable
toddler potty?

3. Sleeping

Make the tent very cozy. Bring extra blankets if you think it will be cold. Wear the kids out before laying down to sleep. Play flashlight tag, sing songs around the campfire, pick up wood, help with setting up the campsite, just wear them out.


Plan for play, look for bugs, scavenger hunt, get dirty, hiking – but not too much, sing songs and allow kids time to explore and discover their new outdoor environment. Except for guided suggestions and making sure your kids are safe, let your kids be kids. Relax, join in and have fun watching them explore.


This is the hard one. Stop while everyone is still having fun. You will need to get back to your regular routine so whatever it is that you and your kids are enjoying, stop and go home while it is still fun. Nothing worse than clearing out a campsite and picking up with whiny, overtired kids complaining. That way you will have a lot to look forward to on your next adventure.

Places to go Camp

Maryland State Parks are great for first time campers. They are inexpensive, have common restroom facilities, a picnic table and fire ring at each campsite and aren’t too far from home. Most of the parks have daily ranger programs for kids. Here are a few parks you might want to explore.

Hikes view Elk NeckW
The view from the Lighthouse Trail in Elk Neck State Park.

Elk Neck State Park

If you want to camp near the Chesapeake Bay, Elk Neck is the place for you, offering  expansive views of the Elk River and the Bay. There are sandy beaches, a lighthouse, 250 campsites, 16 cabins (nine mini/camper cabins and seven rustic cabins), a youth group camping area, park store, playground and a nature center.

Patapsco State Park

Patapsco Valley State Park

Recreational opportunities at Patapsco Valley State Park include hiking, fishing, camping, canoeing, horseback and mountain bike trails. It features a view of the historic Thomas Viaduct, the world’s longest multiple-arched stone railroad bridge, located in the park’s Avalon Area. You also can walk across the 300-foot suspension swinging bridge in the Orange Grove Area. There are five different campgrounds for tent camping.

Tuckahoe State Park   

Tucked away on the Eastern Shore, Tuckahoe has a lake with boating and fishing, hiking, canoeing and a recycled tire playground. Adkins Arboretum is right next door and offers another five miles of paths over wetlands, past resident goats and through native gardens. Campsites and camping cabins available.

Find more outdoor adventure to take the family on with our Outdoor page.
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