Updated: May 4
If you’re thinking of taking your kids on their first family camping adventure, here’s what you should know.
I hated everything about the outdoors as a kid. Bugs. Dirt. Poison Ivy. No showers. No Wi-Fi. Did I already mention the bugs? When I was young, family camping was at the very bottom of my family vacation ideas list.
But the first time I camped out with my Girl Scout troop, I forgot about all of that in the glow of sing-a-longs and friendship bracelets—at least until I innocently asked my troop leader, “Um, where are the bathrooms?” Our troop of 10-year-olds nearly led a revolt when we learned there weren’t any.
Of course, once I got over the initial shock, I realized that roughing it is all part of the fun. I quickly forgot about the inconveniences of camping once we started exploring nearby trails and watched the sunrise kiss the ocean for the first time. We told scary stories and bad jokes, roasted marshmallows, learned how to navigate with compasses, and made cinnamon rolls in a solar oven.
I fell in love with camping right then and there, and now I spend summers hiking across Maine, taking spring breaks at Utah’s national parks, and saving up for trekking adventures in Patagonia and Iceland.
If you’re thinking of taking your kids on their first family camping adventure—or just want to get away yourself—here’s what you should know.