By Fernando Rodríguez, Los Tweens & Teens Contributing ‘Dad’ Expert
I still remember the first time we went camping with our three daughters. The thought that I would end up doing everything kept haunting me. Therefore I was in shock when the words “Daddy can we set up the tent?” came out of their mouths. At that moment I understood the expression “happy camper.” I still consider myself a city slicker, but 10 years of camping have taught me some valuable lessons.
The skinny on camping
There are 161 state parks in Florida alone and thousands around the U.S. Websites like FloridaStateParks.org and ReserveAmerica.com are chock-full of resources and information to help you choose he best for you. If you are a first-time camper, stay close to town and choose one that provides showers, running water and electricity. Think of it as a 1 Star hotel with 5 Star memories.
Put Your Tweens & Teens to Work
Although camping is not a chore-free zone, include your kids in the planning and decision-making process. They can set the table, wash the dishes, gather kindling for a fire and keep the campsite clean. Ask them to roll out sleeping bags and pitch the tent. Let them read the instructions and figure it out. If you think they can’t, check out my daughter’s in action.
Check out Los Tweens & Teens ‘Outdoor Summer Planning Tips‘ to start your travel plans
Check your Lists
There are plenty of camping checklists online. You can download one here. If this is your first time camping, don’t feel that you need to go out and purchase every item on the list. You might be unaware that many of your friends and family have most of the items already. You will be surprised how far “please” and “thank you” can get you.
Kids eat…all the time
Nothing says, “camping” like a hot bowl of chili. How about lasagna? Surprisingly you can make both in a crockpot. These slow (and easy to clean) cookers are ideal for camping and you can find hundreds of easy-to-make recipes on Pinterest. Remember to bring plenty of snacks, water and the most important thing of your trip, all the ingredients to make S’mores.
Dad I’m bored
You will not have to hear these three dreadful words if you bring cards, books and their favorite board games. Allow for them to bring their smart phones to take photos and make videos. Camping is the “excuse” to have a great time to eat, sleep and laugh together.
________________________________________________________Director of MCG Latino, and founder of BiSocial: Bilingual • Bicultural, will provide insights and personal anecdotes about raising bicultural and bilingual teenagers that LIVE between two cultures, SPEAK Español and English and LOVE social media. Follow him at @SoyBiSocial.