Nearly 3 million people camp at parks that are governed by the National Park Service, according to data from the Outdoor Industry Association. It’s no surprise why families take to the woods to spend time together. From disconnecting and unplugging from modern life to having the opportunity to talk one-on-one with your kids, the reasons to get outdoors and go camping are infinite. You also can take this opportunity to pass down family traditions to your kids. If you’re ready to go out into the wilderness, read on for a few unique ideas for starting your own camping traditions:
Choose a Weekend
Start a tradition with your family by camping on the same weekend each year. Memorial Day weekend and the Fourth of July holiday are big camping weekends and can be loads of fun. But, if your family wants to avoid the crowded parks and noisy campsites, plan your trip around the big summer holiday weekends. Instead, have a first-day-of-summer camping trip in June or celebrate the end of summer with a last hoorah before going back to school in August. Choose a date that works for your family and make it an annual event.
Play a Sport
If you have a family of competitive athletes, make your family’s favorite sport part of your camping tradition. From a touch-football match with all of the kids to a friendly game of soccer or volleyball, it doesn’t take much to get this tradition rolling. Just bring a ball, and you’re all set to start playing.
Host a Family Fish Off
Cast your lines out in the river and have a family fish off. Whoever reels in the biggest fish wins the title of best family fisherman until the next camping trip. You also can set up other contests like smallest fish, ugliest fish or most colorful catch to make sure everyone’s included in the fun. Before the trip, get the entire family outfitted in wet-weather gear like waterproof or Gore Tex cargo pants. Outdoor retailers like Cabela’shave everything you need for a family fishing adventure, from rods and reels to the clothes you wear.
Make Gourmet S’mores
The traditional s’more with chocolate, marshmallow and graham cracker has been a family camping tradition for decades. But today’s s’mores are more delicious than ever. Make a family s’mores tradition by putting your own spin on the campfire snack. Add strawberries to your s’more, or build a s’more inside of a banana and grill it atop your campfire. For the full grilled s’more banana, check out the Neighborhood Food blog for step-by-step instructions.
Extend Your Family Campout
From grandma and grandpa to the grandkids, aunts, uncles and cousins, you can create a family camping tradition where everyone in the family comes out to spend time together. Swap stories and sing campfire songs as a way to making lasting, lifelong memories. This tradition is great for families who live in different parts of the country that don’t get to spend much time together. Psychologist Mary Pipher states that family vacations are just one way to make strong bonds with kids and other family members.