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I am pretty sure that the Pacific Northwest is one of the most beautiful places in the world. My family loves to spend summer weekends camping and exploring in this region. We are already planning our first trip of the season. With this in mind, I am starting a series on camping with kids. This first part includes three tips for successful preparation.

Getting out into nature benefits everyone by lowering stress (provided you leave your electronic devices behind), resets the circadian rhythm and offers a chance to reconnect with loved ones. Whether you are an avid outdoors-woman, a couch potato or somewhere in the middle there is a camping option for you. For the novice many state parks offer cabins or yurts. There is also the relatively new option of glamping (short for glamorous camping), also known as camping without any hint of “roughing it”.  At the other end of the spectrum is backpacking; taking only what you can carry deep into the woods for days at a time. In the middle is car camping. This is where my family resides (though we aspire to backpacking when the kids are older). Several times each year we load up the car with tent, tarp (this IS Washington), clothes, food and hiking backpacks and set off to find adventure.

Over the years we have traveled to numerous places around Washington and a few farther afield. For the week prior to these trips I often find myself wondering if all the work is worthwhile. It is, of course. I love spending this quality time with my family and exploring the natural beauty that surrounds us. Having said that, I have discovered a few tricks that helps the preparation process go more smoothly.

1. Prepare as much in advance as possible – My husband and I travel well together because we play to our strengths. He plans the destination and the route, as well as doing any necessary research (trying to decide on a new tent or sleeping bag, he’s your guy). I take care of the details of packing, meal planning, and all other preparation. Ok, this is pretty much what I do every day so it really isn’t that difficult. Each year I get a little more efficient. I currently have a couple of 31 Gifts totes that store camping gear year round in the garage. The shelf above holds sleeping bags, pads and the tent. This means that I can do more than half the packing in about 10 minutes.

I learned long ago that food preparation is much more difficult at the campground and so try to pre-cook much of what we eat. We might have grass-fed, nitrate free hot dogs one night for the kids’ amusement. For other nights I take cooked hamburgers, chili or other protein that has only to be warmed. Sides often include cut sweet potato or other salad which are made the night before and kept in the cooler. Breakfast options might be hard-boiled eggs or oatmeal pancakes which are easy to pull out and ready for the kids to eat while we clean up the campsite.

2. Keep It Simple – As I mentioned above, food preparation at the campsite can be a pain. This is a time when peanut/almond butter and jam sandwiches, carrot sticks and fruit come in handy. It is much easier to enjoy your camping adventure if you are not spending all of it looking for ingredients and cooking over your camp stove.

3. Delegate – Perhaps you have noticed that you are the only one who seems to the mess in the living room? Good news, putting up and taking down a tent and locating the lantern are much more obvious to the rest of the family. They also think is more fun to help in the great outdoors. Take advantage of this and put them to work. Then sit back, relax and enjoy the rest of your stay.

You are now ready to venture out and explore the Pacific Northwest or your corner of the world. How about you? I would love to hear your favorite places to go. Please comment below and share your ideas.

Camping Series Part 1 – Preparing for Success
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