I am a happy camper, and I owe that to my mom and aunt who took my cousins, siblings and I on some pretty amazing camping trips when we were young.  Now that I am grown up and taking my own kids on these adventures, I am even more grateful for those experiences, mainly because I don’t know if I would be the type of person to enjoy camping as an adult if I hadn’t grown up doing it.  And camping is something not to be missed.  There really is nothing else quite like it.  So, if I can tell you to do one thing, it is to take your kids camping, even if it is a lot of work.  Trust me, they will grow up thanking you for it.

So, here are a few of my tips, tricks and just plain favorite things to get you started.  And if I still haven’t sold you on it, maybe just consider a one-night local trip.  With our Southern California weather, you can camp comfortably pretty much year-round!

Two Local Spots We’ve Liked:

San Clemente State Beach

O’Neill Regional Park

ENTERTAINING THE KIDS

Nothing says camping like singing silly camp songs around the campfire.  My favorites?

Great Green Globs of Greasy Grimy Gopher Guts

Great green globs of
Greasy grimy gopher guts
Chopped up monkey meat
Mutilated birdie feet
Little green eyeballs rollin’ round the toilet seat

I forgot my spoon

. . . but I have a straw!

Check out other versions here.  Not quite your style?  The Princess Pat is a classic!

What’s better than being out under the stars?  It really is quite amazing.  And while I normally say camping is a great way to unplug, I make an exception for this star app.  Hold it up to the sky and it will tell you what you are looking at.  We even had luck using it when we had no reception!

 

Invest in a good-old fashioned Leatherman tool to whittle hiking sticks.  Some come with all locking features which prevents the knife from closing on your hand.  If your kids are still too little for knives, the filing board is another (albeit slow) way to whittle by the fire.

We love this super convenient and portable game station for some friendly competitions.

FOOD PREP

Simplify your life by taking pre-cooked meat.  Besides the obvious hot dogs, we like this carnitas from Sprouts.

Feeling like a breakfast of pancakes is a must under a canopy of trees?  Try this hack we spotted on Pinterest.

HELPFUL TOOLS

Set up an easy wash and rinse dish station with these bins and this all-purpose, biodegradable soap.

 

Skip all the dish drying with this foldable hanging drying rack.

 

Keep your hands free and the tripping over rocks to a minimum with a headlamp.

 

Make your trip to the public showers hassle free with this shower caddy.

 

 

There’s something refreshing about tying up a clothesline between two trees and drying towels and swim suits in the sun.  Clothespins are helpful, but not always necessary.

 

 

SAFETY TIPS

 

Leave the scented sunscreens and lotions at home (just use a scent-free version).  You’ll thank me if you find yourself camping where there are yellow jackets.

Know before you go.  Depending on where you are camping, you might run into a few plants you would rather avoid.  It’s always a good idea to know what poison oak/ivy looks like, and have some medicine on hand just in case you run into it.  Handy Tip:  Take a screenshot of an image or description before you go.  Always hard to look something up on your phone when you don’t have reception.

Remember Smokey the Bear?  He was actually a real bear.  Read about his history here.

And, like he said (the cartoon bear anyways), “Only you can prevent wildfires,” so keep these safety tips in mind:

  • Vehicles parked too close to vegetation start fires.
  • Keep your campfire small and under control.
  • Safely extinguish your campfire.  Allow the wood to burn completely to ash, if possible.  If you don’t have water, stir dirt or sand into the embers to bury the fire.  Make sure that no embers are exposed and still smoldering.

HOMEWARD BOUND

 

On your way home, happy with your camp experience, and looking forward to that cleansing shower?  Prep our Do It Yourself Body Scrub before you go so you can scrub off all that dry skin the minute you get home.  You will feel brand new!

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