If you haven’t ever been camping, you may wonder what we do on our camping trips. Do we set up our tent and park a chair in front of it, waiting for our sentence in purgatory to end? I mean there is only so much you can do when everything at your disposal fit in your car, right? No TV, no computer, and no cell phone service? We must go crazy, right?
Well, actually, no. it’s just the opposite.
Our family has so much fun camping, we hardly have time to play with our electronics.
What do we do on our camping trips? Well, here’s a list of 25 fun things that we have done while camping, and I can guarantee you, the list is not complete.
- Hiking – This is probably our favorite thing to do when we go camping. Lots of great exercise and beautiful sights make it really fun to burn a few calories. Most of the state parks we visit have miles and miles of hiking trails. Many are simple and flat, while others are quite challenging. My suggestion is that you pace yourself. Start short and easy and work your way up to the more challenging trails.
- Biking – Many of the hiking trails we walk are also open to mountain bikes. Even if you or your kids don’t like to rough it on a bike, you can ride on the camp roads. Traffic is very slow and everyone is mindful of the fact that there are all sorts of kids walking, playing and riding bikes on the roads. We always take our bikes when we go camping.
- Fishing – If you are camping on a lake, beach or stream why not bring your fishing gear. I don’t know about your state, but here in Texas, you don’t have to have a license to fish in a state park.
- Swimming – In the summer we don’t go camping unless there is water to swim in. In fact, as you read this we are camping at McKinney Falls State Park, which has an excellent swimming area right under the falls.
- Climbing – My kids love to climb. They climb trees, rocks, and cliffs. It gives them a great sense of accomplishment when they get to the top. Also, it wears them out, which is always a good thing.
- Canoeing/Kayaking/Boating – Last year we discovered the joy of kayaking. It’s a great way to get that workout without even realizing it, because it’s so peaceful and beautiful. My middle son loves it so much we bought him his own kids kayak for Christmas and he’s just itching to use it.
- Bird Watching – If you are into nature there is nothing more relaxing than bird watching.
- Exploring – My kids love to go out into the woods and off trail to explore. Be careful that you don’t wander into a patch of poison ivy though. Just ask my daughter.
- Geocaching – Many of the places we camp and most of the trails that we hike are full of caches. If you are unfamiliar with geocaching, you can read about it here.
- Fort Building – My kids love to build forts everywhere we camp. My oldest daughter seems to always play architect and contractor, while all the rest of the kids become the worker bees. They all participate and seem to have a genuine sense of accomplishment when their fort is built. And they always want to give the adults a tour.
- Stargazing – Some of the places we go camping have observatories. We always take advantage of them when they are available. One of the cool things about camping is that you get away from the light pollution that is always present in populated areas. I always marvel at how many stars can be seen on a clear night out in the boonies away from the city.
- Collecting – My kids love to collect flowers (please don’t tell on us), rocks, leaves, bugs (dead) and anything else they find interesting.
- Walking Your Dog – This is a special time for me and my standard poodle, Molili. We got him for my son, but I’m the one who fell in love with him. I like to take him for a quiet walk first thing in the morning before anyone else is up, (quite frankly it’s rare that I can beat the kids up).
- Visit Nearby Attractions – A lot of the places we camp also have nearby attractions, historical markers, and museums. If you are looking for a learning opportunity or just need to get out of the heat or the cold, try visiting a nearby attraction. During our spring break camping trip we visited the first mission in Texas and learned about the Caddo Indians who once populated Southeast Texas.
At Your Campsite
- Campfires – My very favorite thing is to sit around with my friends staring at a campfire, telling stories and jokes, while the kids play in the dark.
- Cooking – I could write an entire blog about camp cooking (and I just might do that a little later). We have a propane grill that we seldom use, because every state park in Texas has a fire pit and grate at each camping spot. We also have our own grate (that I know for sure is fairly clean) and we also have a dutch oven, a must for every camper who likes to cook. Some of my friends take camp food seriously and cook gourmet meals. Back in March, during spring break we had an impromptu Greek night with grilled shrimp, falafel, grilled eggplant, pita bread and more. It was awesome!!!
- Horseshoes/Corn Hole – If you go camping here in Texas, you will notice a lot of campers spending the day playing horseshoes or corn hole which I’m confident will soon be the state sport. Many state parks also have horseshoe pits and believe it or not, there are several disc golf courses in or near state parks. You can bet if there is a nearby course, I’ll be trying it out!
- Roasting Marshmallows/S’mores – This is by far my least favorite activity, but if you have kids you must make the sacrifice. They will thank you for it.
- Cards/Board Games – Even when the weather is nice, my kids like to slow down and play cards or board games for a couple of hours. I think they are pacing themselves so they aren’t too tired to play flashlight tag later on in the evening.
- Relaxing in a Hammock – You might think that this is an adult activity, but if you have kids, good luck getting your turn in the hammock. You will want to get one of these if it turns out that you like camping and plan to do it often.
- Hot Cocoa – My kids love to drink hot cocoa on those cool winter mornings, where it has become a ritual.
- Tossing a Ball (or disc) – Drive through a campground and you will most likely see someone, playing catch with a baseball or football, no matter what time it is, as long as it’s light enough to see.
- Enjoying the Company of Family and Friends – We often camp with friends, usually from our church. This is one of my favorite things about camping. My kids don’t mind the additional playmates either.
- Playing Hide & Seek – Never ever has there been a better place to play hide & seek than in a campground. Just remind the kids to try to stay out of other peoples campsites.
- Digging in the Dirt – Even when it appears that the kids have done everything they can do, they will still find a place to dig in the dirt, build a castle or fairy house or chop twigs with a shovel. There just seems to be an endless variety of things your kids can do when you go camping.
I hope this list is helpful for planning your first camping trip with your family. Some of the activities require that you bring supplies, but you don’t have to bring everything listed. At first, you can bring what you already have and as you fall in love with camping, I guarantee you will gradually begin to accumulate more and more camping toys and accessories.
I hope you take the leap and give camping with your kids a try. It’s awesome to watch the fighting stop and the playing and exploring begin. You may never want to return to the real world.
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