The Insider’s Guide to Family Camping

Have Fun!

Guess what? That spectacular hike in Olympic National Park, where mountains meet sea, might have you breaking into a verse of "America, the Beautiful," but younger children will likely be impressed all of ten minutes. Remember, they're the ones who choose to swim at the hotel pool rather than walk the 20 yards to the sugar-white crescent beach. "Just look at that!" I screamed with adoration at the towering ridges of Utah's Zion National Park. "What? It's a rock," said Melanie. Thus, my cue that it's time to play. I'll organize a scavenger hunt, making a list of ten items they have to find, or break out the cards for a quick game of Uno. Harmonicas and kazoos are always a good lightweight form of entertainment. At night, after the obligatory s'mores chowdown, I'll break out a map of the stars and see if we can find Orion, then read the next chapter of the Narnia Chronicles. Yes, dishes need to be washed, food needs to be put away high above the bears, and teeth have to be brushed. But let’s not forget why we’re out here.

Boston-based writer Stephen Jermanok has authored or contributed to 11 books on the outdoors, including Outside Magazine's Adventure Guide to New England , Discovery Channel's Backcountry Treks , Discovery Channel's Paddlesports , Outside Magazine's Guide to Family Vacations and Men's Journal's The Great Life . His latest book is New England Seacoast Adventures . His many adventures appear in National Geographic Adventure , Outside , Men's Journal , Forbes FYI , Travel + Leisure , Hooked on the Outdoors , and Backpacker . He can be reached at

Published: 20 Sep 2005 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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