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Tips for camping with kids

Maryland camping with kids

firstimecampersEven experienced campers might find things have changed when it’s time to go camping with kids. While you might be used to no bathrooms, long hikes and open-flame cookery, camping with kids is an entirely different ball game.

Tip #1: Consider the campsite’s amenities.

If you’re camping with kids, it might be best to choose a site where there are other things to do. Be sure to call ahead and inquire about the amenities and activities at each campsite so you can choose the one that best fits your family’s needs and interests. When camping with kids, look for campgrounds with playgrounds, swimming pools and other attractions, some even offer wireless internet to make you feel more at home.

Tip #2: Choose the right equipment.

When it comes to tents, shop big when camping with kids.  “You want to go plus one as far as the people that are coming.  If you have four people, I would say to pick up a five person tent,” says Vanderberg. It is important to have something between you and the ground, such as a sleeping pad, for comfort and safety.  “You want to insulate yourself when you are sitting or laying for a period of time because even in 70-degree temperatures, you can get into hypothermia,” says Phil Ormandy, health and safety director at the American Red Cross of Central Maryland in Baltimore.

Tip #3: Overpack.

Have extra clothes so you can adjust according to the weather. “When the sun goes down, often the temperature will be cool enough that you will not want short sleeves and shorts,” says Matthew Kaiser, deputy public information officer at Fairfax County Park Authority.

Tip #4: Reconsider the campfire.

Cooking over an open flame is fun, but might get dangerous if your little ones aren’t strong walkers. Instead, you may want to have a camp stove and propane cylinder or grill as well as a cooler for your food.

Tip #5: Equip each family member.

Each family member should carry a flashlight.  “Electric lanterns are popular because they are battery-operated and convenient,” says Vanderberg. This is especially helpful if someone has to get up in the middle of the night to go to the restroom.

Make sure that everyone has a whistle.  “When you give it to your kids, say that you only blow when there is an emergency so you do not have kids running around the campsite blowing whistles all day because that can get annoying,” reminds Vanderberg.  The traditional signal for someone in trouble is to blow three short times, then rest, then blow three times again.

Tip #6: Make it fun.

Bring fun accessories for your child.  “There are telescopes, magnifying glasses, bug jars for collecting insects or foliage for looking at later on and butterfly nets,” says Vanderberg.  If your child likes electronics, he may want to take a stab at geocaching. “It’s a GPS unit that is handheld and takes you to different sites to collect things.  It’s a neat activity,” says Shrader.  Singing around the campfire and making s’mores are also popular.  If you are getting ready for an adventure, get crafty.  “You can make a hiking stick.  Kids like to decorate, paint and put feathers and beads on it,” says Shrader.

The best part about camping is what you cannot predict.  “It is the excitement of the adventure and the little surprises that come up that make things spontaneous and fun,” expresses Vanderberg.  Once you have mastered the preparations, the rest is about attitude.  “It is a matter of good spirits and weather that will make your trip enjoyable,” feels Vanderberg.

By Jamie Lorber


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