Summertime is for being outside and making memories – and there’s no better way to do that than camping. Here are some helpful tips for your first family camping trip.
Camping is fun, but it can be intimidating. The more you plan in advance the more enjoyable your trip will be. Here are a few items for your checklist:
- Talk to friends who camp and get their tips or visit a local outdoor retailer and ask for advice.
- Write out a packing list and don’t forget clothes to protect you from cold, heat, or rain. Pack plenty of diapers, sun screen, paper towel and sanitizer, because you likely won’t be able to easily access a store.
- Use printed maps to show you where you’ll be going so that you won’t get lost if your GPS fails – get an extra map so your kids can follow along too!
- Reserve your camp space with Michigan Department of Natural Resources.
You don’t need to buy everything in the REI display. Keep it simple as you start out and consider borrowing or renting gear, so you can learn what you like and need before spending money on gear that may or may not work for you or the types of trips you want to take.
Break In Your Gear
Get familiar with your camping equipment before you’re trip. Practice setting up the tent at home and camp in the backyard for a night to avoid frustration later. Have everyone wear their hiking boots or new shoes for a weekend to break them in before you get blisters from hiking.
Learn how to safely build a fire… and roast some marshmallows.
A campfire has such a strong draw and can provide a beautiful way to relax and enjoy a night outdoors. Some of the best conversations happen circled around a fire and the smoke can help deter mosquitos. Be sure to learn how to safely put out fires (no forest fires!) and follow the fire regulations of the area (some spots don’t allow you to bring in wood from other places due to the threat of insect invaders). See Smokey Bear Tips to get started and this article on how to gather and prepare firewood.
Every trip is a learning experience and you don’t have to be an expert before your adventure. Flexibility is key, so be ready for surprises…it is part of the fun. Push your comfort, but never compromise your safety. Think of it as overnight picnic and incorporate creature comforts. Have a favorite snack? Bring it! Many trips have been completely turned around by delicious chocolate bar or a warm cup of coffee.
Here are some local campsites to check out when you’re getting started.
- Camp Dearborn (Milford)
- Brighton Recreation Area
- Emmett KOA
- William C. Sterling State Park (Monroe)
- Clearwater Campgrounds (Ortonville)
- Pontiac Lake Recreation Area
Content provided by Detroit Outdoors
The Detroit Outdoors program provides training, gear rental and programming for youth groups, scout troops and school classes to have an overnight camping experience at Scout Hollow, a 17.4 acre campground located in Rouge Park, Detroit. Once youth group leaders participate in the Camping Leadership Immersion Course they gain access to training materials and a gear library that contains all the equipment needed to outfit their group for a safe and memorable camping trip at Scout Hollow. The training costs $35 per person and the next training is August 10-11.
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