The temperatures in Vegas are rising and in this valley, that means more time spent indoors hiding, or at pools and splash pads trying to cool down. By the time the weekend comes, many parents are looking for something different to do.
One of the most economical, educational, and all-around fun things to do is to go camping. There are several wonderful camping spots within a 3 hour drive of Las Vegas, and many of them offer amenities that make it easier to camp with all ages of little ones.
The first order of business is to decide which area would work best for your family. When camping, there are many options, from full-service camp resorts, to a spot in the woods far away from civilization. Full service resorts often offer RV parking, and cabin rentals as well as tent spots, for those who aren’t so much into the rustic aspect. Two resources available for this search are www.reserveamerica.com and www.recreation.gov. Another favorite resource of mine is www.campgrounds.com.
The next thing you want to do is make a list! Lists are important to keep yourself organized. Make one list that spells out the meals you will be making while camping; one column list out the meals, and another column for the ingredients you need to bring for that meal. Listing everything out helps to ensure that you are not leaving anything behind that might be a crucial piece of an otherwise easy meal. Forgetting things causes problems if you are in a relatively remote area and cannot get to a store very easily.
The second list will be gear you will need. This can be as simple or as elaborate as you want. Make sure you are including weather appropriate clothing. It’s hard to pack hoodies in 106 degree weather, but check the overnight weather where you will be. Once the sun goes down, so do the temps. Don’t forget extra sunscreen, bug spray, and extra pairs of shoes in case one gets wet. In more humid climates, it can take a while for them to dry out.
Get your kids excited by getting them involved! Depending on the age and ability of your children, have them pack their own bags, help you plan the meals, and even shop! Then they can assist with meal prep as well. When you are at the site, let them help set up the tents, the kitchen, forage for kindling (where allowed) and help serve meals. Enlist them in cleaning up the campsite – use this time as a teaching opportunity that we pack out what we take in, and leave as little a carbon footprint as possible.
Speaking of meal prep, prep as much as you can at home. Chop veggies and fruit, pre-scramble the eggs and put them in a container (we use plastic water bottles – less room in the cooler and no risk of broken eggs!), marinate your meat in a Ziploc and throw it in the cooler. No one wants to spend their entire weekend in the camp kitchen!
And finally – and this one may be the hardest: Leave the electronics alone! Camping is about stargazing and hiking, exploring and discovering, and getting dirty! Let your kids make new friends, find new bugs, climb new trees, and make new memories!
Our most recent camping trip was Father’s Day weekend to Zion National Park – it’s a quick 3 hour drive, and it was spectacular. My 10 year old spent so much time exploring, whittling with his pocket knife (and not one finger was sacrificed!), and enjoying the outdoors. Even my 13 year old daughter had a blast.
Camping is fun, economical, and worth every penny.
Remember: Travel is the only thing you purchase, that makes you richer.