Your First Camping Trip

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Have you lost your mind? You want to take your entire family camping? That’s what I asked myself before we went on our first camping trip as a family. Carrie and I never went camping when it was just the two of us, and now she wanted to take all six kids. Even more crazy I thought, was the fact that our youngest daughter was only three at the time! Oh, and by the way, did you notice that it was my wife’s idea, not mine?

Our first trip wasn’t exactly a disaster(nobody died), but it was bad enough for me to think we were one and done. You can read about that misadventure here. After that first camping trip, I was ready to sell our brand new camping gear. Carrie was determined to try it again, and that has made all of the difference!

Maybe you have never camped in your entire life. Perhaps you camped years ago, when you were younger. Either way, you have this crazy idea that you might like to take your four, five, or even more, electronics addicted kids and your not so outdoorsy spouse on a camping trip.

Hiking is one of our favorite things. Kids love to explore and have an adventure.

What Could Go Wrong?

Before you decide that your family is the next Swiss Family Robinson, you might want to load up on information and then decide whether or not camping is for you. Now, I’m not trying to scare you out of going camping, I just want you to be prepared for a few things that can ruin your best laid plans.

  • It Could Rain – Not too many things suck worse than setting up a tent in the rain, unless you are setting up a tent in the rain, while throwing up from food poisoning. Just ask my wife’s family.
  • Bugs, Animals and Plants – Any time you go camping, there’s always the chance you’ll have an encounter mother nature. Bugs, snakes, raccoons, and poison ivy have the potential to make your first camping trip into your last. On our first camping trip alone, we encountered miles of rotting stinking seaweed and the worst mosquitoes ever. But it was a day trip to a bird sanctuary where we encountered millions and millions of love bugs that convinced me that if nature wants to drive you back into the house it can, and will.
  • The Temperature – I have been so hot and so cold, that I didn’t sleep a wink. The first time we went camping the temperature got down to 75 degrees, but the humidity was nearly 100 percent and there was no wind at all. Between the mosquitoes and the sauna in our tent, I was miserable.
  • Infirmities – Sunburns, jellyfish stings, and ticks can totally put a damper on your camping trip. A couple of months ago, my daughter contracted a really nasty poison ivy rash on her face. I bet she never crawls around in the bushes again without first looking for poison ivy.
  • Forgetting Something Important – I have never been camping where I didn’t forget something or perhaps not bringing enough. For that reason, we usually like to camp within 30 minutes of a Walmart.

The good thing is, you can plan most of these things out of your trip.

When It Goes Right

When everything goes right, camping can be the most relaxing, yet at the same time, invigorating experience. Here, in a very small nutshell, are just a few reasons we keep going camping over and over again.

  • The Fighting Stops – Unless your kids are hellbent on not getting along, there is too much space and too much for your kids to do for them to waste their time fighting.
  • Your Kids Will Learn – Weather, Astronomy, Botany, and Geology are just a few things your kids might learn while camping. Your kids will learn naturally, but you can structure it as well. It’s really up to you.
  • Exercise – You and your couch potato children will find all sorts of reasons to get moving. Our favorites activities are hiking, rock climbing, kayaking, and swimming. It’s so awesome to realize that my kids don’t even miss their electronics.
  • Relaxing – I find sitting around a campfire to be one of my favorite ways to relax. Especially after a day of hiking or kayaking, and it doesn’t hurt if I happen to be clutching a cold beer.

Kids will learn whether you plan it or not.

Success is All About Planning

Our first camping trip didn’t go all that well. I’m pretty sure most people would have listed their equipment on Craigslist the very next day. I was ready to do that, but my wife persevered. If I’d had my way we would have never experienced the hundreds of hours of family enjoyment that camping has provided to us, and quite frankly, that would have been a tragedy.

I would hate for your first family camping experience to be your last, because you were blindsided by fire ants, mosquitoes, or spoiled food. That’s why I decided to write this series. I hope you will continue to read the articles to come. Hopefully, you will learn something useful when it comes to your first family camping trip.

In part two of this series, I will talk about equipment, where to go, and how to prepare for your first family camping trip.

Until then…..

Brian at Daddy Go To Timeout


At the end of this series, I will make available lists (note plural) of items that you should take on every camping trip. From the bare minimums, and food, to luxury camping. If you would like me to send you a copy of these lists, please fill out the form below and you will receive my newsletter, called Timeout. In it, you will find recipes and bonus material, including my downloadable lists, so if you want lists and more, just click the icon below and fill out two very simple and nonthreatening lines.

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