Great Family Camping Experiences

Many of us grew up camping with our families and have some great childhood memories of what camping is all about. Family camping is enjoying a resurgence in popularity, as boomers castoff the excesses of the past twenty years and look towards simpler and more fulfilling family summer vacations.

Family camping photos

New friends. Whether you are 6 or 60, there is no surer way to meet new people and make new friends than to camp at one of the popular family state or federal campgrounds in your area.

Unplugging. When is the last time your entire family unplugged for the weekend? There is something magical, in this day-and-age, about no phones, no computers, no video games and no TV. Help your family experience some of this magic, this summer!

Catching a first fish. Camping and fishing are two outdoors activities that go together like, well, camping and fishing! If your camping plans include a well-stocked lake, then you are in a great position to help your children experience one of life’s great rites of passage – catching their first fish.

Campfires. You can sing songs, tell scary stories, or just laugh and roast marshmallows, but family time around the campfire is one memory that your kids are sure to cherish. One of my early childhood memories, that still sticks with me today, was driving away from a campground and my dad realizing that he forgot to water and stir the fire pit. “Don’t worry dad,” I told him, “I took care of it.

Snacks. Okay, so if your kids are like mine, snacks are nothing new. But camping snacks are something different, altogether! S’mores, trail mix and a cup of steaming hot chocolate around the campfire are all special camping experiences that hopefully our kids will pass on, someday.

Wildlife. Sure, it would be great to see a mountain lion or a bear, but even a deer or a banana slug can be exciting for the kids to see. Just remember, your best chance for spotting many animals, including dolphins and seals at the beach, is early in the morning.

Sleeping outside. It doesn’t matter if you are camping at the beach or in the mountains, there is something magical about the night sounds and the vast expanse of stars that fill the sky.

Rain. One of my strongest camping memories, as a child, is drifting off to sleep listening to the sound of rain drops on the tent. Rain is not something that most of us look forward to, when we go camping, but the sound and the smell is definitely a rich outdoors experience.

Many of my most memorable camping experiences are from my childhood, but now that I have kids of my own, I am starting to see some of that same enthusiasm in them. Their experiences are now my new experiences and that is exciting, for this dad.

What are some of your most memorable camping experiences?

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26 thoughts on “Great Family Camping Experiences

  1. Camping is the most affordable bonding experience a family could ever have. And my favorite part is when everybody is around the camp fire sharing a wonderful diner. What makes it more special is when everybody starts telling their own stories. It brings the family closer together.

  2. Hey Roy,
    Thanks for the memory update. One of my best memories (or maybe the worst…) was my Dad making me get up in the middle of the night to go get more wood for the fire. Since I ignored his request to storehouse wood during the daylight hours (too many fun things to do during the day), it was a lesson that I needed to learn.
    I can remember stamping out through the woods in my boxers mumbling all sorts of things with only a flashlight in hand.
    “Planning ahead” was that life lesson that my Dad wanted to make sure I never forgot.

    • Bill – we did something similar in a camping trailer, years ago. I think we had only been out in a trailer once before, so we did not really know what we were doing and we ran out of propane at 2:00AM from running the heater (it was sub-freezing temps). We had to bundle everyone up and go find a 24-hour truck stop to fill the propane tanks, because we did not have any gear with us for cold weather camping and the kids were still 2 to 6 years old. Ah, fun times!

  3. hah. As silly as it sounds one of my favorite memories is the time my oldest son pee’d behind a tree for the first time. Yes, that may sound silly but to me it marked a big growing up moment for him and those moments are always special to me.

  4. Every summer we would take a week long camping trip to Yosemite, Sequoia or Tahoe. Those are some of my fondest memories. And inspiring since my mom was a single mom and packed my brother and I up to go each year. Spending that kind of time outside, going to ranger talks etc., formed who I am today.

    • No doubt about that, Mel – I have some great memories from Yosemite and Sequoia, from my childhood. What drives me crazy is that we don’t have many pictures from back then.

      • I don’t think we have many pictures either. A few, though. I should scan them and do something with them…

  5. I’ve got tons of camping memories over the years, but as with what Rudy mentioned, the thing that stands out most, is the time spent around a campfire. As a kid camping with my family and our neighbors, eating the evening meal and roasting marshmallows. And then later as an adult, playing music, having several guitars and people singing…a camping trip is not complete without the evening campfire.

  6. Hi, Roy.
    I think your blog is great. Very informative. My husband and I are avid wilderness campers. I never went camping when I was a kid but my husband did. When we got married he introduced me to the beauty and peacefulness of nature and now I can’t get enough of it. The last time we went camping was for a week in February. We camped up at Harrison Lake (BC) and it was shorts and t-shirt weather during the days. (Great for us but not so great for the 2010 Olympics.) We’re going again next week, however, this time we’ll bring our long johns because it’s way colder now. Global warming? I think not! Anyway, keep up the good work.

    • Thank you, Vicki! I am pretty sure I would be in heaven, up there – we’ll hopefully get to camp and visit friends this summer up by Dawson Creek.

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  8. I never had the privilege of camping outside when I was a kid! But I’m determined to not make it that way with MY kids. Our oldest son when camping for the first time last year and my fave memories were all of us enjoying our dinners together. He really digged those s’mores!

  9. Roy,
    Another great post to get some families thinking about going camping.
    Some of my memories are mastering the skill of roasting marshmallows (2 at a time)! My great grandfather falling asleep with a cigar in his mouth around the campfire. My aunt falling asleep at the campfire and she melted the soles off of her shoes. Just to name a few.
    Now, it is my turn to pass these events along. What would you recommend for us to prepare ourselves (Myself, wife and 2 yr old son) on an overnight camping trip in the woods.

    Thank you,

    • Hah! Lots of sleeping around those campfires. 2 Years old is a great time to start camping, Rudy – you just want to make sure the cold weather is over. I don’t think you need any kind of special preparation – if you’re worried about him sleeping you could try the back yard, some evening.

      • Roy,
        Thanks for the recommendation, we hope to give it a go in the next 2 weeks or so. Unfortuanately, our backyard would not be quiet enough for me, as we live between a road and highway! I will follow-up with the results!


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  11. Just started reading your blog….it’s one of my favorites now. I think you perfectly captured the essence of camping. We don’t think about rain being one of those pleasurable moments, but when I think about it, you’re right.