Erica is a writer, editor, wife, and mom. She has always found employment with an English degree and she excels at nurturing children and animals but struggles to keep houseplants alive. Erica currently writes at

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Family Camping Mistakes

Once upon a time, my husband and I considered ourselves ultra-light hikers.  We had the gear, we traveled fast, we covered distance.

Six years and two kids later, we have a tent the size of a living room.  We got it for Christmas and finally put it to use, first in the backyard, and last weekend, in a state park.  Here are some camping mistakes we made on our first family camping trip.

My family = Example
You = Warned
  1. Our somewhat last-minute trip wasn’t planned well.  We rented a boat at the least expensive place we could find.  It was a nice marina, but it was 40 miles away.  We had no idea, looking at a poor map, that the marina was on the far side of a hundred fingers in the lake and we’d have to drive a circuitous route to get there.
  2. Check your pockets BEFORE you jump in the lake.  Also, the wet-cellphone-in-rice trick doesn’t work.
  3. Prep all food, even snacks.  Taking too much food is a return-trip packing buzz kill.  But also, be prepared to grab hotdogs rather than cook a full meal when you return from the day’s activity too late to cook.
  4. Unless there’s 0% chance of rain, put on your tent’s fly.
  5. If you have a new tent, check the fly for holes before camping.
  6. Take rainy day, inside-the-tent activities for the kids.
  7. Bring a picnic table cover.  Heck, throw in an all-purpose tarp, too. (Are you sensing a rain preparedness theme here?  Weathermen are not to be trusted).
  8. If you cook over the campfire, you’ll need a pan and a HOT PAD and UTENSILS.  Praying that you can successfully flip pancakes because you don’t have a spatula is nerve-wracking (but my husband, thank goodness, is a pro).
  9. Bring a first-aid kit that will help adults.  Out of desperation, my husband bought a $1.50 packet of “Moody’s Headache Powder” from a back woods gas station.  He lived.
  10. Have a casserole sitting in your refrigerator, so when you get home there’s fresh grub while you unpack all of your [wet] gear.

Well, we did #10 correctly.  And we still had fun, so there’s that.

Happy family camping!


More camping resources:

Family Camping – Outdoor Camping Gear

Family Camping: Meals

Road Trip Preparation Cartoon

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Comments (13)

  1. Smith 11/21/2012 at 5:48 am

    Great tips must say, haha the same i realized after jumped into the lake, it was my brand new iPod. The 10 last minute check ins before camping.

  2. Lisa 08/01/2012 at 11:10 am

    Too funny! I wrote a similar post- check it out!

  3. Lisa 08/01/2012 at 11:08 am

    Lol! Too funny. I wrote a similar post- check it out!

  4. Candice 07/06/2012 at 7:42 pm

    On our first (and only) camping trip of the year this past May, we found out that in the White Mountains hydrocortisone cream is essential with a 2 year old. As seasoned as we might be with camping I found that being 5 months pregnant was also not as fun as I expected! At least we have many more fun years to look forward to!

  5. Hilda 07/06/2012 at 6:13 pm

    Great post! Our camping experiences changed a lot post kids compared to just hubby & I too. It’s so much more work than when it was just the 2 of us! But it’s so worth it when you see those little faces loving the outdoors.

  6. Jen Price 06/22/2012 at 8:49 pm

    I don’t know if I ever told you, but when we left evo last year and camped in Moab, it rained on us both days! A lady at McDonald’s told us that hadn’t had rain for a long time. Lucky us. Moral of the story, always be prepared for rain when you’re camping!

  7. Pingback: 7 Tips to Having An Enjoyable Camping Experience With Your Kids | Family Camping Fun

  8. Pingback: 7 Tips to Having An Enjoyable Camping Experience With Your Kids | Family Camping Fun

  9. Chris Balay 06/20/2012 at 11:06 am

    We have learned through years of camping with kids to ALWAYS put up the rain fly and then put up a tarp over that! You cannot have too many tarps or ropes when camping.

  10. Erin Oltmanns 06/19/2012 at 9:13 pm

    So you got wet, eh? Hilarious post. 🙂

  11. Amy 06/19/2012 at 5:05 pm

    Woah.. you just gave me a good laugh. Still, looks like what water you faced didn’t ruin all your fun. Cute photos!

  12. Melissa Choate 06/19/2012 at 1:43 pm

    #10 is absolute genius! I’m going to have a prepared dinner ready for our return from every camping and overnight trip. I make a mean tuna casserole!