1. Do GO camping!

 

Whether you own a tent or not, you can go camping.  Many state parks have shelter sites.  All you need is food, chairs and blow up mattresses!  Screened in shelters are a great way to try out camping!  Check state parks in your area for availability. 

2. Do get up every morning and sit in awe of Mother Nature.  Watch the sunrise, admire a spider web covered in dew.  Gaze at the water, trees and forest floor. 

One of the best things about camping is basking in Nature!  Enjoy the sunrise (because you ARE going to get up early).  😉

3.  Do pick a nature trail to hike.  I grew up 3 hours away from the foothills of Arkansas. When I went hiking, it was up a mountain.  Up until a few years ago, I thought that WAS hiking. If you weren’t climbing up a mountain, what was the point?    I’ve since found that Nature Trails are all around.  Finding and hiking them has brought me joy.  Hiking is fun, no mountains necessary!

4.  If you are at a state park, check out the Nature Center.  It’s a Great place for science exploration.   It’s a goldmine for homeschoolers!  We learned about metamorphosis, habitats, trees, snakes, turtles, transitional zones, etc. 

5.  Do Roast Hotdogs.  Children of all ages approve!

6.  Do Set up a hammock  (even if you don’t get to sit on it).  I was too afraid that the hammock rope was going to break or fall apart if I sat on it, but the kids throughly enjoyed swinging in the trees all weekend long.  

7. Do  go with friends.  Camping is fun and being with friends only makes it better.  🙂  I learned how to play Canasta this weekend.  We did morning yoga/stretching together.  It’s a great way to bond. 

8. Do Bring your bike.   Bike the nearest nature trail! 

9.  Do sit around the campfire (or in the shelter) and tell silly ghost stories with the children.

10.  Do get dirty.  Embracing the dirt takes the anxiety out of camping.  Bring extra wipes for emergency clean ups!

Don’ts

1..  Don’t expect a fall camping trip just because it’s technically fall.  100% Humidity and the kids went swimming, enough said.

2. Don’t go camping for three days (if you’re not an expert).  Three day camping trips seem ideal but I promise you they are not, especially if you are camping without your significant other.  It takes a half a day to set up and a half a day to break it all down.  Add to that the need to “cram all your camping fun”  into one full day and that equals ONE REALLY TIRED MOM!  Camp for 4 or 5 days.  You will thank me for it!

3. Don’t forget things like tylenol, dishwashing liquid, knives and paper plates.  Without fail, no matter how many lists you make, you will forget something.  🙂  Try not to sweat it and hopefully a store isn’t too far away. 

4.  Don’t pack everything into one day.  Refer to number 2.   Is it fun to Hike 1 1/2 miles, Take a 2 hour tour of the nature center, Bike a 1 mile trail AND go swimming?  Sure it is.  But is it fun to do it all in one day??  I’ll let you decide.

5.  Don’t bring 2 bikes and three bike riding children.  Well that’s just common sense.  Invest in a bike carrier that you attach to the trunk of your car.  I know that I’m going to!

6. Don’t forget to check your flashlight batteries before you leave.  It also helps to have one MORE flashlight than you have people.  🙂

7.  Don’t be afraid to enforce downtime during the day for you and your children.  Camping is fun and it should be relaxing but it’s also hard work.  Downtime helps parents and children rest and refresh.  The alternative is not pretty.

8.  Don’t lose your shoes in the middle of the night, because you will have to walk to the bathrooms and it won’t be fun.  Refer to number 6.

9.  Don’t feel ashamed if you like a little electricity while you are camping.  You don’t have to be purist.  It’s still fun!  Ok, I’ll admit it.  I camp at a site WITH a shelter, 4 electric outlets and a spigot of running water.  I’m not ashamed.  It’s still camping and it’s still fun. 

10.  Don’t forget to rest.  Refer to number 2.  Plan a nap!  Take a siesta in a chair.  Sit around the fire and just talk.  Hiking, biking and swimming are fun but camping is also about taking a step back from our crazy modern life and just soaking in Mother Nature. 

pp&j

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