Growing up, our family was not the camping type. My dad would joke that for him, camping was staying at a hotel without room service. Although we were not campers, my parents often took my brother and I hiking and exploring. I have many great memories of being in the mountains and exploring with my family. When my husband and I started a family of our own, we both enjoyed the idea of camping. One year I decided to surprise him with a camping trip for his birthday.

Which meant I had to figure out exactly how to go camping.

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I employed my hiker/camper/backpacker/explorer brother for advice. My second source of information was Pinterest. After multiple phone conversations and many, many pins, I felt ready to take my family into the forest for a weekend of fun.

I developed our own camp packing list. Our list gets perfected with updates on every trip we take. By starting with the basics, and adding our own family needs, we have come up with a system that works for us. Camping was made very accessible by our local REI. We rented tents, sleeping pads and stoves until we were committed to purchasing our own. The employees there were always helpful, friendly, and encouraging. We quickly hit an REI Garage Sale and purchased our own camping palace: The Kingdom 8. We set up our tent for the first time in their parking lot, with an employee providing direction whenever we strayed.

Our first camping trip was awesome. Our kids needed unlimited access to dirt, bugs and all things kids. My husband needed a ‘no signal’ message on his work phone. We not only survived that first trip, we thrived. Camping is now a family tradition and our main source of vacation adventure.

I love sharing our camping adventures with friends. The most common questions I get asked is: Isn’t that A LOT of work? Wouldn’t it be easier to go without the kids? Is it safe to bring a baby camping? Do you sleep in a tent? Yes, yes, yes and yes. AND it’s worth it. My kids are growing up in a virtual, touch screen world. Camping for a weekend gives them a needed break from screens and a much-needed dose of dirt.

Let’s Go Camping.

Featured Photo Courtesy: Leon Contreras via Unsplash