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Family Camping: Tips, Tricks, and Fun

Are you looking for something really fun to do with your kids?  Do you get sick and tired of family members who are always glued to their electronics?  Look no more!  We took a short family-friendly camping trip and have lots of tips to share!

Packing/Preparing For Your Trip

The first step in planning a camping trip is coming up with a destination.  We decided to go to Livingston, Texas, because of its proximity to Houston (roughly 90 miles).  We waited too long to reserve a campsite (we reserved about a week before Spring Break) and were not able to have much of a choice.  We ended up staying at a private campsite that was really nice (Wolf Creek Park). The campground was really nice (beautiful lake), but it lacked nature trails.

***Our campsite had both water and an electrical outlet. Both were very useful throughout our weekend.

We decided to camp Friday and Saturday night and come back Sunday.

There were a total of 6 adults and 7 kids whose ages ranged from 19 months to 13 years old.  (Sadly, our friends Jessica and John had to cancel at the last minute because of a sick child).  We decided to camp in tents.  We were amazed at how far tents have come from the old ones that took forever to put up.  Dave and I purchased an 8 person easy to assemble tent and our friends Melissa and Brandon purchased a 12 person easy to assemble tent.  We paid a couple of hundred dollars and were really impressed with how easy they were to assemble and dissemble. Christa and Brad had 2 small tents and agreed they have to upgrade for the next camping trip.

We decided that since this was our spring break trip, we would splurge on some new supplies.  We learned the last time we went camping in cooler weather, that it is very important to buy warm sleeping bags.  Christa and Brad made the mistake we did last time and only brought blankets.  They said that they were very cold and wished they had warm sleeping bags!  
We bought a coffee percolator that was great along with large LED yellow flashlights ($4.99 each). These were great!  Dave and I also brought an electric lantern we have had for years. 
We brought air mattresses and our friends brought cots.  We decided that our next camping trip we would invest in cots because they are so much more comfortable!  If you have wiggle room in your budget, I would recommend investing in them for the long run!
Food


Part of the fun of camping is having fun making the food.  Christa and I ended up going halves and buying a propane grill with 2 burners.  This was a smart decision!  We grilled shrimp Friday night and made coffee, bacon, and eggs Saturday morning.  If you think you will camp a few times a year, this is definitely worth the money!  We used the campsite grill for burgers and hotdogs Saturday evening.

Of course you can’t go camping without making SMORES! You can use wooden tree branches or metal sticks to roast the marshmallows!

***Tip:  I saw a Pinterest post that said you can use Keebler Fudge Stripe Cookies and marshmallows to make smores.

Entertainment


I will credit our friend Melissa with providing and coming up with 99% of the entertainment for the kids.  She is awesome!  She provided the kids with so many fun activities. The entire weekend the kids were doing something fun. They played baseball, football, softball, and hiked.

Melissa brought washable finger paint and markers for the kids to paint rocks.  They loved collecting the rocks and then being creative with the paint. Surprisingly it was not really messy! You need paper plates and paper towels. 
The kids had fun playing with play dough on one of the picnic tables. 
Another favorite activity provided by Melissa was making grape structures.  The kids had a blast! Event the babies had fun making the craft. All you need is grapes, tooth picks, and paper plates. The kids can eat the grapes after they make cute items! 
Melissa’s son had fun fishing and Melissa thrilled my girls with her nature bracelets. She brought a lint brush and tore the sticky pieces off and wrapped them around their wrist. They they found flowers and other nature items to stick to the tape.  It was super cute and fun to make!
Our camp ground had a playground and basketball hoop for the kids and adults.
One of the best/worst experiences occurred with the scavenger hunts.  Before you go camping, I highly recommend that you print out camping scavenger hunts for the kids.  When the kids went on their first scavenger hunt, they accidentally got into Poison Ivy.  Poor Melissa did not realize the pretty red leaf they were looking at was Poison Ivy. They passed it around before they realized it could be the bad leaf! Once they got back to the campsite, they washed their arms/hands and then the guys went and purchased poison ivy lotion for “preventative” measures. 
Here is what Poison Ivy looks like!
Christa and Brad bought 2 tarps that came in handy! The first one they used for under their tents. The second one we used for arts and crafts and then a parachute game with the kids when it was dusk. They had a blast!
Relaxation


Overall this was a VERY fun, relaxing mini vacation.  The adults, kids, and dogs had a blast.  We are ready to go again and feel that we learned from our mistakes so that the next trip will be even better!
Here is a list of things we decided made our Family Camping Trip a 4 Star weekend (or things we will do next time)!
  • Easy assemble tents
  • Cots
  • I-Pad loaded with kid movies (in the evening they could watch in the tent while the adults sat by the fire and talked)
  • Big Jawbone (our speaker to play our playlists)
  • Tarps
  • Bug Spray/ Sunscreen
  • Packing in layers for clothes (bring shorts, but also jeans). The weather fluctuated the entire weekend.
  • Toiletries/flip flops/towels to take a shower
  • Lots of extra clothes (accidents happen)
  • Camping Chairs
  • Ant Killer (we would bring some next time)
  • Warm sleeping bags
  • Propane Stove
  • Lots of wood!
  • Activities for the kids.
Our question for you, what camping tips do you have for the next time we go?

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