Don’t you just LOVE Summer? The kids are out of school, the days are longer, and nights are warmer. It’s our chance to get away from the hustle and bustle of our busy lives and appreciate our time together, making memories in the beautiful outdoors.
What better way to do just that, than with a Family Camping Trip?!
Yep, it’s camping season again and, just for you, we’ve rounded up…
Go ahead and pin it right now. I’ll wait. No, seriously! Just wait until you see the delicious recipes, clever organization, handy apps, fun activities, genius tips, must-have gadgets, and creative party details. (Actually, I’d pin it just for the recipes. Honest!) Okay, pinned and ready to go? Perfect!
Without further ado, I present to you…
The Ultimate Guide to Family Camping
Where should we begin? Oh yes- the FOOD! I don’t know about you, but that’s my very favorite part about camping. I don’t know why, but food always tastes better over a campfire. Don’t you think? And just wait until you see the delicious, melty desserts that we’ve rounded up. Holy yum! Actually, let’s start with those first…
Okay, first step for cooking success in the outdoors – grab a SoloStove! They are amazing! I’ve had one for a few years and I could not recommend it more! You don’t need any fuel, and it is perfect for backpacking trips, Scout camps, or even just to enjoy some hot chocolate on a fishing trip! You can grab one from Amazon or their website.
1. Rolo Marshmallows by Simply.Be.Photo– Almost everyone’s favorite part of camping is the perfectly roasted marshmallow. But have you ever tried a stuffed marshmallow?! I’m thinkin’ I’m going to have to experiment with all sorts of chocolate candies now! Reese’s minis, perhaps?
2. Campfire Eclairs by Making Memories With Your Kids– Why have I never heard of these bad boys before? Now THIS would be a hit with the kiddos, for sure! Totally adding crescent dough, pudding, and frosting to the list for the next camping trip!
3. Campfire Donuts by Melissa J MacDonald– One of my favorite childhood memories is making donuts out of biscuit dough with my mom, but I never thought about doing it over the campfire! Just use an empty tin can as your little donut oven- genius!
4. Campfire Cones by Kids Activities Blog– These ooey, gooey campfire cones are as good as any ice cream. And the possibilities are endless for what kinds of yumminess you can pack inside.
5. Chocolate Banana Melts by The Girl Who Ate Everything– I remember the first time I was introduced to the beloved “Banana Boat” at Girl’s Camp as a kid. You’ve gotta experience this melty, decadent treat at least once!
6. Campfire Strawberries by Rugged Yosemite– These campfire strawberries has been popping up all over Pinterest lately. Just dip ’em in marshmallow creme and roast to fruity perfection. Has anyone tried it yet? I’m seriously hoping it’s as heavenly as it looks!
7. Grilled Waffle Treats by Taste of Home– Ever thought of bringing frozen waffles on your camping trip? Well, after checking out this sweet & simple foil treat- you just might want to!
8. S’mores Variations by Betty Crocker– S’mores are always delicious, but if you want to take it to the next level- then you’ve got to check out the “Expert Tips” on this recipe for some chocolatey variations. Striped S’mores are a family favorite!
9. S’mores Buffet by Birthday Girl Blog– Speaking of S’mores variations, don’t you think a buffet with LOTS of different chocolate candy bars would be the perfect way to find the winning combination? Sign me up!
10. S’mores Bar by Martie Knows Parties– OR check out this S’mores Bar! They really kicked it up a notch with the addition of nutella, peanut butter, strawberries, and coconut toasted marshmallows!! Basically, if you could find it at an ice cream shop- try adding it to your next S’more!
11. Peachy Caramel S’mores by Spoonful– Okay, can you tell that I’m a BIG fan of S’mores?! I just had to throw one more in there. I about died when I saw this recipe of peachy, caramel goodness. I’d say it’s a definite upgrade from the usual graham crackers.
12. Campfire Orange Rolls by Truly Simple– Who knew that oranges could be so handy when it comes to camp cooking? Apparently, EVERYONE but me, because I found similar recipes alllll over the place. Apparently, the moisture of the orange peel prevents burning and imparts a nice orange-y flavor. Totally want to plan a camping trip just so I can try it.
13. Campfire Orange Cakes by ljcfyi– Actually, because I am a total chocoholic, I’d probably be trying the cake version. Baking cake on a camp-out? Yea, that could get you mom of the year.
14. Campfire Orange Blueberry Muffins by Apron Strings– OR wake the fam up with the scent of orange blueberry muffins! Totally beats the usual camp breakfast of oatmeal or granola bars. By a mile!
15. Campfire Roasted Starbursts by Mommy Savers– Have you tried this trick before? Roasting Starbursts over the fire makes them slightly crunchy on the outside but soft and gooey on the inside AND intensifies the flavor. So while you’re at the store grabbing a bag of marshmallows, don’t forget the Starbursts!
And how about some campfire snacks and meals…
16. Campfire Popcorn Satchels by Real Simple– As simple as it is, there’s just something magical about watching popcorn pop over the fire. Especially through the eyes of your child. For even more fun, try adding different seasonings like Parmesan or Ranch.
17. Campfire Chip Dip by My Creative Stirrings– For another fun snack, how about some campfire dip? I LOVE the idea of using little tuna cans too, so each camper can have their own can for dippin’.
18. Bread on a Stick by Sweet Paul Magazine– I think the kids would have so much fun wrapping the dough around sticks to make their own bread. You could make your own dough ahead of time, or just grab a can of crescent roll dough from the store.
19. Campfire Roasted Cinnamon Rolls by Whimsy Love– OR, for a sweet treat, opt for a can of cinnamon rolls. Love that it already has all of the spices you’ll need.
20. Campfire Monkey Bread by Camping With Gus– If you have a dutch oven, you’ve gotta try this pull-apart Monkey Bread. There’s even a funny video to show you how.
21. Chili and Cornbread in a Jar by Giver’s Log– This one would be great for the first dinner of camp. Make at home, put on lids, and take on the go for an easy and quick dinner. Then you can get to setting up camp right away instead of having to mess with dishes and cooking.
22. Dutch Oven Pizza by What’s Cooking America– How about surprising your family with pizza while camping? You can use pre-made pizza crust in a tube to make it super easy. After all, any type of pizza that you can make at home, you can make in a Dutch oven!
23. Walking Tacos by The Girl Who Ate Everything– This one’s a family favorite! Use snack size bags of Fritos or Doritos to make Tacos on the go. The best part? No plates and easy cleanup!
24. Breakfast in a Bag by Lakeland Gear– Cook a yummy breakfast of bacon and eggs in brown paper bags over the fire. The eggs are done when the grease from the bacon is about half way up the side of the bag. Cleanup’s a breeze!
25. Easy Camping Pancakes by A Mum ‘n the Oven– You want pancakes when you camp, but it’s messy and you have to take milk and eggs. Well, not if you do it this way! Isn’t it amazing how a little preparation can make things so much easier?
Okay, now that I’ve shared my very favorite recipes, how about some…
Camping Recipe Round-ups?
26. 25 Delicious Camping Recipes by Six Sisters’ Stuff– Our good friends over at Six Sisters’ Stuff shared 25 delicious camping recipes! I don’t know if I can pick a favorite, but the Camping Quesadillas sure look delish!
27. Seven Days of Camping Recipes by One Sweet Appetite– Check out this round-up for a whole week’s worth of camping meals! Did you know you can make dutch oven fries?! Ummm…yum!
28. Campfire Cooking 70+ Recipes by Precise Is Nice– Here’s the mother-load of campfire cooking recipes! Everything from snacks, breads, and desserts to breakfasts, dinner, and beverages. I seriously want to try out those cowboy sodas. Did you know you could use a peppermint stick to drink the juice out of an orange? So fun!
29. 10 Easy Breakfast Camping Recipes by Camping Roadtrip– We all know breakfast is the most important meal of the day. But let’s face it, camping breakfasts can get pretty boring pretty fast. Here are 10 easy ideas, you’re sure to love.
30. 34 Quick & Easy Camping Menu Tips by The Frugal Girls– The Frugal Girls shared their very best camping menu tips – you should definitely check ’em out. The pizza sandwiches sound quick, easy, and tasty.
Pretty sure that’s more camping recipes than you’ll ever need! Now it’s time to get organized…
31. Family Camping Checklist by The Portable Baby Blog– Don’t forget anything on your next camping trip! Just follow this handy, dandy checklist that already compiled for you.
32. Printable Camping Meal Planner/ Checklist by Mean Mommy Academy– I’m loving this printable meal planner & checklist. Print a page for each day you’re going to be away camping, and then plan one meal and activity at a time!
34. Family Camping Organization by Leading Them to the Rock– There are some great tips here to streamline the packing and unpacking process. Check out her “Tub System.” LOVE how organized she is!
35. On- the go “Ouch Pouch” by Cutest Little Things– Before heading out into the wilderness, why not make an “Ouch Pouch” to keep all of your first aid essentials easily accessible?
36. Camping Bucket by Sew Cakemaker– Using a 5 gallon bucket like this, she thought of a unique way to provide seating around the campfire for the kiddos, as well as a clever way to store their clothes and personal belongings!
37. Milk Crate Seats by A Day in the Life of Miss Kranz– OR try this milk crate version for smaller children. You can get your own milk crate here!
38. Turn a Shoe Organizer into an Outdoor Kitchen Organizer by Life Hacker– Roll up a shoe organizer like this and take it camping with you. Hang it from a tree and you have a portable organizer for anything you need to keep off the ground: utensils, kitchen equipment, food, and more. Smart, right?
Camping is the perfect time to unplug and just enjoy being together. But don’t leave that phone at home! Here are some handy apps that the whole family will enjoy to take your camping experience to the next level …
41. Camp Finder by Camping Roadtrip– With this app, you’ll have 18,000 campgrounds, RV parks, and RV resorts in your pocket!
43. Coleman Campfire Tales by Marvel Apps– A collection of scary stories to read over the campfire.
44. AccuTerra by NeoTracks– Explore millions of miles of trail maps in the palm of your hand.
45. Spyglass by Pavel Ahafonau– A handy compass, complete with sextant, rangefinder, and gyrocompass. You can tag locations, put everything on a map, and add in some planets for fun!
46. MotionX GPS by MotionX– Recently voted the best iphone navigation app out there. You get all the functionality of a separate clunky GPS unit.
47. Field Guide Apps by Green Mountain Digital– Includes apps for identifying mushrooms, birds, wildflowers, trees, and tracks.
48. Star Walk by Vito Technology– An award-winning Education app that allows users to easily locate and identify 20,000+ objects in the night sky.
49. What Knot To Do by Columbia Sportswear Co.– Your pocket guide to 70 must-know knots in six categories. With this App you’ll always have just the right knot at the ready, with clear step-by-step tying instructions.
50. Dutch Oven Calculator by Kyle Kendall– With this app, you can calculate the number of coals you need for your dutch oven to reach a certain temperature. Cool, huh?
Experienced campers know that camping with kids requires a little extra planning and preparation, especially when it comes to keeping them entertained…
51. Campfire Songs by Buzzle– What’s a campfire without some song and dance? Here’s a collection of fun campfire songs for kids.
52. Happy Camper Scavenger Hunt by Creative Homemaker– Attach this free printable to some paper bags and host your own “Happy Camper Scavenger Hunt.”
53. Camping Bingo by NWF– There’s so much to see when you’re on a camping trip. Make a game out of it by filling in these bingo cards with camping-realted words. Or use their completed, ready-to-play bingo cards.
54. Camping Tic-Tac-Toe by Pinterest Summer– Need to keep the kiddos entertained while you set up camp or cook dinner? Send them to collect sticks and rocks to play a couple rounds of tic-tac-toe on a tree trunk.
55. Printable Kids Explorer Journal by Fleece Fun– This is the perfect little booklet to take out on a camping trip for kid explorers! And it’s free!
56. Camp Journal by Big Smiles from Kbear– Or how about a camp journal for the kids to record all their great camp adventures?
57. Camp Letter Writing Kit by Apartment Therapy– If you’re sending a kid away to camp this Summer, then you might want to send them off with this little letter writing kit. With stamps, address labels, cards, envelopes, stickers, and pens included- you’re sure to get a letter from your little camper.
58. Camping Pillow by She’s Kinda Crafty– Okay- how perfect is this cute camping pillow? Fill the pocket with a flashlight, note pad, pen, and a book- and it’s ready for a fun camping trip.
59. Camping Survival Kit by J. Day Designs– If you bring this on your camping trip and nothing else you’ll be a-okay! Well, not really, but it would make a great little gift for your favorite camper.
60. Hiking Tips by Together Counts– Hiking as a family sounds like such a peaceful way to spend the day, but the reality isn’t always as simple. Here are five kid tested tips to make hiking with young ones fun for everyone.
61. 15 Ways to Have Fun Outside in the Dark by Childhood Beckons– The camping fun shouldn’t end just because the sun went down! Check out these fifteen ways to have fun outside… in the dark.
62. 10+ Activities for Camping by Inner Child Fun– Whether you’re planning a trip to the great outdoors, or pitching camp in your own backyard, here are 10 simple camping activities to keep the kids entertained!
63. 10 Kid Approved Camping Games by Life With 4 Boys– If you don’t want the kids glued to the iPad or handheld game systems while you’re gone, here are 10 kid approved camping games!
64. 10 Fun Camping Games with Kids (No Stuff Required) by Real Family Camping– Who says you have to bring lots of toys to keep the kids entertained? Here are 10 fun camping games, and you can play them all without any special materials or equipment.
65. Camping with Kids Games and Activities by Squidoo– Most of these camping activities and games are tried-and-true oldies that combine learning about nature with the fun that keeps kids interested.
Make your camping trip a little easier with one of these “Why didn’t I think of that?” tips & tricks…
Genius Camping Tricks
66. Campfire Starter by Sew Many Ways– Want to make fire starting eggs-tra easy? Recycle a cardboard egg carton and fill it with “match light” charcoal. Fill each egg cup with one brickette.
67. Camping with Foam Floor Tiles by A Little Campy– Foam floor tiles are the perfect solution for those pesky rocks that poke through the tent floor! Especially if you’re camping with a baby or toddler.
69. Portable Spice Kit for Camping by The Handy Hausfrau– Now you can eat in style without packing the whole spice rack. Just use a 7-day pill box to store spices for your next camping trip.
70. Hand Washing Station by EHHD– Check out this nifty hand washing station using an old laundry detergent dispenser. Don’t you love how they used a bungee cord to secure the paper towels to the top? Genius!
72. Hillbilly Washing Machine by Refashionista– This “camping washer” cost her $6 and about 10 minutes, using a 5 gallon bucket and a plunger. If you plan to be camping for long- this might come in handy!
73. Homemade Insect Repellant Recipes by Mossy– Insect bites might just be the worst part about camping. But here are 4 homemade insect repellant recipes- without all that pesticide.
74. 35+ Camping Tips & Tricks by Tipnut– From protecting your toilet paper from rain and dirt to making your own toothpaste dots, here are 35 camping tips and tricks that might come in handy.
75. Camping with Kids Checklist and Tips by Inspired by Family Mag-This is a great list of tips and recommended packing list if you’re camping with a baby or toddler.
76. Camping with a Baby: 18 Things I’ll Never Camp Without by Clever Nest– AND you probably want to check out this post too for some more tips. You wouldn’t want to be stuck with a screaming baby and no teething tablets or diaper cream!
77. 3 Budget-Friendly Ideas for Family Camping by Go Explore Nature– Here are a few ways you can cut down on your family camping expenses. Who wouldn’t love that?
78. 10 Tips for Comfortable Camping in the Rain by Survival Common Sense– So your camping trip is all planned and the forecast is predicting rain- now what?! You’ll definitely want to run through this 10 tips.
79. Family Camp Directory by Martha Stewart– Have you ever dropped the kids off at sleep-away camp, surveyed the beautiful surroundings and thought, “I wish I could go there”? Well, now you can! Family camps are a combination of an old-school family vacation and classic summer camp. Here’s a directory full of possibilities.
80. 30 of the Best Family Camps in North America by Babble– You’ll want to browse through this post, as well, for more information. Family Camp is a great way for parents and children to bond and experience outdoor activities in a gorgeous atmosphere.
Choosing which items are worth packing is tricky when you’re planning a camping trip. Here are some of our favorite picks…
81. Tent Light– Instead of holding a flashlight in your mouth while you dig through your tent- why not bring along a tent light? Its strong magnet attaches to your tent pole in seconds. Turn it on for reading, playing games, or chatting, and then flip it off when it’s time for bed.
83. Mammoth Queen Size Sleeping Bag– This mammoth sleeping bag is perfect for cuddling up with your sweetheart, and great for staying warm during cold camping nights. (And if your little ones are anything like mine, and won’t stay in their own sleeping bag the whole night- it’ll be a lifesaver!)
84. Camping Loveseat– How perfect is this camping love seat? Snuggling up by the campfire just got a whole lot easier. (It would be great for soccer games and events too.)
85. Portable Highchair– Now even the baby can have a camp chair! Wouldn’t this make camping with a baby a WHOLE lot easier? It’s only 8 pounds and comes with carrying case too. I need it!
86. Solar Water Bottle– This is no ordinary water bottle. When charged in the sun, it can light up for 3.5 – 4 hours. Use it to stay hydrated during the day, and as a nightlight for the kiddos at night.
87. Portable Energy Pack– Isn’t this a cool gadget? It can charge your cell phone, iPod. and other small electrical devices more than 10 times. (So you can use all of those cool camping apps)
88. Mystical Fire– Impress the kids and make the evening campfire and story time a colorful light show with colored campfire flames. Why have I never heard of this?!
89. Camp Shower– If you’re more of a glamping kinda gal, this pop-up privacy shelter and camp shower may be just what you’re looking for. (Or pair it with a portable commode and you’ve got your own little private restroom.)
90. Kamp Kadi– How about a portable camping organizer that clamps conveniently on a table/grill or stakes into the ground. The Kamp Kadi has a hands-free light, radio/lantern holder, paper towel holder, adjustable condiment rack, movable utensil hooks, and trash bag holder. Nice!
91. Cordless Water Pump– How awesome would THIS be at a campsite? This battery-powered pump dispenses bottled water without back-breaking lifting or wasteful spilling.
92. Camp Sink– Bring the conveniences of home to the campground. The freestanding design and drying racks make after-meal clean-up quick and easy. You can also zip the lid closed to keep your dishes stored and organized for your next camping adventure.
93. Trunk Bed Tent– Okay, this makes me wish we owned a truck. Camping in a dry truck bed up off the ground without the complication of tarps and stakes sounds quite appealing, doesn’t it?
94. Trampoline Tent– How FUN would this be for a backyard camp-out?! A trampoline tent is not just a good idea for the children, but with it’s comfortable “floor”, it’s also ideal for adults. *Update 5/29/15: The link is for a European sports store, but there are plenty on the market elsewhere, like this one and these!*
95. Trailer Hitch Hammock Chair Stand– Have you seen these hammock chairs that attach to your trailer hitch? Now THAT is camping comfort at its best!
Even if you’re not the camping kind or you can’t get time off for a family trip- don’t let that stop you! Why not plan a camping date night for 2, or host a camping party in your own backyard. (You can still get in on the S’more & fun without the dirt and bugs)…
Camping-Themed Party Ideas
96. Campout for 2 by The Dating Divas– Ya know, camping doesn’t always have to be a family affair. In fact, it can be quite romantic. A cheap, fun date night is waiting right in your backyard.
97. Gone Campin’ by Love Actually– OR bring your camping rendezvous indoors! We’re lovin’ the cute, flirty invite.
98. Camp in Your Backyard by Martha Stewart– With a pair of binoculars, a compass, and a trail guide, kids will be inspired to explore new terrain…in your own backyard!
99. Happy Camper Party by All is Well– Check out all of the cute, creative details in this camp-themed party. From the hobo sticks and camper’s crunch to the flashlight favors and scavenger hunt storage- we love it all!
100. Vintage Barbie Camping Party by HWTM– Hostess with the Mostess never disappoints with their parties. Our favorite part of this one is the “Build a S’more Relay Race.” Too clever!!
And finally, one last tip for preserving all of those camping memories…
101. Messages on Stones by Historic Florida Wedding– Although they used this idea as an alternative the the wedding guest book, I think it would work great for recording, saving, and displaying your camping memories. Every time you go camping, find a rock and write a memory from that trip! What a keepsake that would be.
Phew! And there you have it- 101 camping tips and ideas for one crazy fun, memorable camping trip!
(Told you it was worth the pin) 😉
*** UPDATE!!!! You guys asked for it and we heard you. Yep, we’ve rounded up even MORE fun camping hacks and ideas this year. Make sure to check ’em out…
From camping packing tips to camping ideas for families and everything in between- you’ll find it all!
And…. if you don’t want to miss all of the fun Summer camping ideas that we find, make sure to follow our “Camping Ideas” board on Pinterest.