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10 Family Camping Tips

10 Family Camping Tips from Our Family to Yours

For several years when our two boys were growing up, our family spent nearly every weekend tent camping in Northern California.

We camped in the High Sierras, in Redwood Country, along the Pacific Ocean, in the Central Valley - just about anywhere we could pitch a tent.

Oh, did I mention that we went all basic with tents, sleeping bags, and a camp stove?

And that we discovered I was claustrophobic in a tent once the lights went out?

Or that neither Wolf nor I had ever been camping before?

We also discovered that camping is a wonderful way to spend quality family time together while getting away from the stresses of life and enjoying nature together.

But there were some missteps along the way.

I'd like to share some of the family camping tips that Wolf and I learned the hard way - through trial and error!

Although I must confess, some of the mistakes we made back then are - with the perspective of a few years under our belts - some of our best stories and the things we laugh about the most! (Could this be another family camping tip?)

Do you have a favorite NorCal story?
From a family visit from years ago to something
you discovered last weekend,
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Our 10 Best Family Camping Tips

We learned a few things the hard way, but luckily we managed to keep everyone safe and to have a great time on every single camping trip.

We hope these tips will help turn your family camping experiences into the kind of life-long memories our family has!

  1. Taking your kidlettes camping gives you a wonderful opportunity to teach them about camping etiquette.

    Camping etiquette is nothing more than common sense and good manners - which will serve them well in life situations way beyond camping!

  1. Don't try to wing a camping trip with kids - a little advance planning can mean the difference between a great experience and a real bummer that no one wants to take the chance of repeating!
  2. But don't just plan for what's going to happen at the campsite - the time it takes to get there needs some planning as well.

    The kidlettes can get incredibly bored, riding in the car with nothing to keep them entertained. And the car ride is an excellent opportunity to help them leave the electronics behind.

    Instead of putting on a video or handing out parental phones with kid-game apps, use the opportunity to teach them camp songs, or play the License Plate game. The trip will be more fun and you'll all be getting into Camping Mode!

    For some incredible ideas on road trip games for car travel, see my friends over at

    And be sure to bring snacks!

  3. Plan for simple meals that won't take a long time to cook. This family camping tip took quite a while to sink in with me! Imagine making stew from scratch at 2000 feet over a tiny little camp stove - we didn't eat until 11:30 that night!
  4. Teach the kidlettes to respect the wildness of wildlife - not only for the sake of the wildlife, but for their own safety! Even the cutest little chipmunk can - and often will - bite! Not to mention the damage that can be done by a Stellar Jay's beak, a deer's hooves, or a coyote's teeth!

    Set a good example about the wildness of wildlife by not approaching or trying to feed the animals, and keeping your food properly stored so as not to entice the critters to forage in your camp!

  5. Be sure to bring a First Aid Kit - it's not much fun to get a blister on your heel from hiking all day with nary a bandaid in sight!
  6. Take what you need for a successful adventure, but travel as lightly as possible. The more stuff you have to cart around, the less fun it is for you!
  7. Explore the world of nature with your kidlettes - here are a couple of ideas from the types of things we did:

    • A Nature Treasure Hunt - make a list of things for your kidlettes to find and have a prize for the one who finds them all first
    • Build a Science Kit - Here's what you need: a magnifying glass, binoculars, crayons and paper for rubbings, a small net, a bug jar, and identification books for wildflowers or birds or rocks or animal tracks (and/or scat) - a big favorite with the kidlettes.

  8. Discover your Inner Artist and help the kids do the same - keep a scientist's journal with sketches, notes, measurements, rubbings, etc. - Experiment with different methods and different media!
  9. Teach the kidlettes to look out for the things that may make for a miserable week after camping: poison oak, poison ivy, nettles.

The best of all family camping tips - have fun with your kidlettes and build those wonderful, lifelong family memories! You'll be glad you did, and so will they!

There's nothing like the feeling of joy you get, seeing your grown children take their children camping because they have such fond memories of their own childhood experiences!

For more family camping tips that will help you decide where to go camping in Northern California, see the Related Pages links in the Right Hand Column.

Would you like the answer to this reader-asked question, "We live in
the Sac area and looking to head somewhere warmer in March to camp other than Southern California. Any suggestions?" Just click here.

And to ask your own questions, visit our FAQs.

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