An Expert’s Best Summer Camping Tips and Tricks for Families


By Bethany Johnson

You and your partner used to be camping fanatics. You even joked that you spent more time sleeping in the great outdoors than in your own bed—but when you had kids, that all changed. Your priorities adjusted, and getting out into the wild for a weekend became more difficult.

You don’t have to relinquish yourselves to a sterile, air-conditioned, entirely indoor lifestyle for the rest of time. With a few summer camping tips and tricks, you can get back to doing what you love. Here are some tried-and-true, time-saving, crisis-averting camping hacks that will ensure your kids stay safe and happy while you’re all getting your camp on.

At-Home Prep

The best summer camping tips allow you to maximize your great outdoors enjoyment: A little work invested before leaving home will save hours of trouble once you’re on site. For example, you can create a few homemade fire starters by combining a glob of petroleum jelly with dryer lint. When mushed, mashed, and formed into a ball, this concoction will turn your tiny, hopeful pile of pine needles into a roaring campfire. It’s also a good idea to stock up on fire logs made specifically for roasting food. For a great mess-less option, try Duraflame’s Campfire Roasting Logs.

An Ounce of Prevention . . .

The next summer camping tip you should focus on is waterproofing your food and supplies. As a health-conscious parent, you don’t want to rely on canned beans and prepackaged snacks all weekend, so whip up some make-ahead recipes (like pancake mix!) and stash them in waterproof mason jars, like these Regular Mouth Pint Jars by Kerr. Stow your toilet paper rolls in cleaned-out coffee cans to weatherproof them. This tip can help you dodge a catastrophe, like thunderstorm-sogged cardboard food containers, ant invasions, or (yikes!) a combination of both.

. . . Is Worth a Pound of Cure

Throw together a quick tent repair kit by gathering spare mesh, a strong needle, heavy outdoor UV thread, and marine shrink tape. Alternately, you can ditch the do-it-yourself route and grab Coghlan’s Nylon Tent Repair Kit. That way, when the unthinkable (inevitable) happens, and your tent springs a leak, you’re ready to save the day.

Mobile Apps

Once you’re at your campsite, it’s a great idea to ditch technology to consume the sights, sounds, and smells of nature. En route, however, you may want to use mobile apps like AllStays, a campsite finder that you can use with or without an internet connection. It’s not out of the question that you’ll arrive to find your favorite spot taken; with this app, you can explore new areas with confidence that there’s a cool spot with running water “just ahead.”

Kids constantly want to know where you’re going, so it’s fun to hold up the phone and show them (instead of shrugging helplessly). Once you set up camp, you can put your devices aside . . . or use more apps to identify the different rocks, leaves, and bugs you find.

Boredom Busters

Avoid the temptation to hand your kids a tablet when they get bored in the great outdoors. Instead, give your oldest a job and the tools to do it. Offer them their own youth fishing pole like the Ugly Stik Youth Rod and Reel Spinning Combo, and, under your supervision, have them wrastle up some grub from the nearby river or lake. For younger kids who can’t stay quiet enough to lure a fish, offer a cute pole that dangles ‘mallows into your fire’s heat, instead, like the Firebuggz Fire Fishing Pole. Remember to stay nearby and vigilant as your youngest roasts dinner or dessert.

Armed with these summer camping tips and tricks, you’ll be prepared for anything the outdoors or your youngsters throw at you.

Don't struggle through another camping trip with kids in tow (or worse, give up altogether). Stock up on preventative tools like the Nylon Tent Repair Kit from Bass Pro Shops—you'll be glad you did.


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