Search for National Parks
The National Park Service has a great site that allows you to search for a park by Name, Location, Activity, or Topic. http://www.nps.gov/findapark/index.htm They also have a great section for kids and teachers complete with Junior Ranger information (even online Junior Ranger programs).
For campsite reservations including tent, RV, cabin, and even horse and boat sites, check out www.recreation.gov
Don’t forget anything
“Expect the best, but prepare for the worst” For a really thorough camping checklist, go to http://www.thepetersengraph.com/camping/ – it even lets you deselect the items you don’t need and then it creates a custom list for you that you can print out.
- Clothes for warm and cold weather
- Emergency Kit for the vehicle
- First Aid Kit
- Bug spray and sunscreen (you burn more quickly in the mountains because the air is thinner)
- Extra Water
- Warm Bedding & Pillow
- Cooking stuff, dishes, and food
- Cleaning Items (for dishes and yourselves)
- Other fun stuff – camera, binoculars, compass, fishing gear, frisbee, kites
Starting a Fire
Here are a few steps and tips to start a wood fire.
- Start with some tightly crumpled newspaper or other starter.
- Set small, dry sticks (kindling) in a criss cross pattern, making sure there’s air between the pieces.
- Place a couple layers of dry, larger wood on top of the kindling.
- Light the newspaper with a match and the rest should catch fire soon after.
Foil dinners are easy to prepare and fun to make. Don’t forget stuff for S’mores and hot dogs on a stick. If you decide to use a camp stove, just make sure you remember to bring everything you need to cook and clean. Check out the Campfire Meals section for more ideas.
If your child is involved in scouts, don’t forget to take along their merit badge requirements. There are merit badges in the following topics that may be address while on a camping trip.
Fish and Wildlife Management
Reptile & Amphibian Study
Photography – Take photos of the landscape and of your family activities. You’ll want to look back on these memories later on, and to prove that you saw the hugest moose you’ve ever seen!
Bird Watching – Break out the binoculars and a bird guide and have fun identifying the different birds in the area. For a little fun, try imitating some of their calls. If the kids get bored on the ride home, have them color some of the birds they saw.
Hiking – Take along a compass just in case and find a good trail to go hiking. See what items you can find along the way – you might even want to print up a good scavenger hunt before you leave home. For a photo scavenger hunt, have the kids take pictures of themselves in front of items such as a hollow log, a tree with yellow leaves, or a pond.
Fishing – Teach the kids a few fishing tips, and a little patience. Whether lake fishing or river fishing, this can be a nice relaxing activity for the whole family and a good escape from the hectic life of the city.
Outdoor Activities – Pack up a frisbee and a couple balls to throw around and a kite or two and the kids are sure to keep busy. Check out these other ideas for Outdoor Games.
Star Gazing – It’s sure to be nice and dark, so take advantage and head outside with a comfortable blanket and look up at the stars. If you want, bring along a star chart and look for constellations. You can even bring along a telescope from home to get a closer look.