Summer is such a great time to plan special times for the family. One event that most families look forward to doing is a camping trip.
While camping together is a unique experience, it really takes a great deal of planning to go on that first trip of the year. In fact, there is such a huge amount that needs to be done, that it is well worth thinking about having this trip be slightly different than others you may plan for the year.
Let the first trip be a camping trip in your back yard. If you do this, you will save yourself some grief and some hard work.
One reason to have this at home camping night is because young children frequently become scared on the first night they are in a strange sleeping situation. Eating at a campfire is great for them. Setting up a tent anywhere is a wonderful adventure. But sleeping in a strange place isn’t always great especially for little ones.
Another reason is the amount of things you need to bring with you on a camping trip. If you make the first trip of the year something different, you will make it a lot easier for you to have had a trial run.
Just think how much fun it can be setting up the tent in your own yard. When you forget something all you need to do is go to the garage and get one. If the tent has a problem, figuring it out and solving it at home is a lot easier than on the road.
You can gather up some wood that you can use for a bonfire. Just find a safe spot and make sure you bring the matches, the ketchup, the chips, the hot dogs, and the sticks for roasting things on. When you are at home and you forget the marshmallows for s’mores, you can run to the store and solve your problem.
Forgetting things you need is easily remedied at home, but not in a remote camping site in the mountains.
Take everything with you for this first trip. Use your portable refrigerator and make sure it is working properly. Remember, this is a preview of the next trip which may be further away.
Bring some special things for your children. Books are always great and reading together is always worthwhile. Games are fun even when they come without screens. Maybe you need to be sure to have some of those with you for this family night out.
What are you going to use for lights? Make sure you have what you need when it gets dark. It may not be dark before your little one is hopefully asleep but when she wakes up at 2 a.m., it will be. This is a good time to try out the port-a-potty. When you go on a regular camping trip, it will be nice if she has used one at home first.
Remember the tooth brushes. It is kind of exciting to brush your teeth and just spit out the toothpaste. You don’t usually get to do it that way at home.
You want this to be a special time. Actually, camping the first time can be a bit scary for a young child. But when she realizes that you will be there with her and that this is a fun and special first time camping trip in her own backyard, she will probably like the whole idea better.
There are many other things you can do in your back yard that give your young children a friendly introduction to outdoor activities. Hide and seek is a great game if you realize it is just a game. Having an outdoor barbecue is always fun. Putting up a hammock to rock in is even an exciting new thing to try. Climbing a tree is a new adventure you can help your child learn.
Just give some thought to how you introduce these different and fun things to your little one and then sit back and enjoy your at home activities.
Cynthia Martin is the founder of the First Teacher program and former executive director of Parenting Matters Foundation, which publishes newsletters for parents, caregivers and grandparents. For more information, call 360-681-2250.