Camping is one of those activities that you either love or hate. Before my wife met me she had never been camping in her life. That quickly changed; bless her heart I think she started going just because she knew I enjoyed it. I know now that it has really grown on her and she is really a true sport when it comes to my obsession.
Camping is a cheap way to have some fun and get the family out of the house for a few days. It can be as hectic as you want, you can cram a full itinerary of activities into your time camping or do nothing but swing in the hammock and listen the wind blow and nature play its tune.
Places like Jellystone and KOA offer park like settings that are usually more wide open and activity focused. These are perfect for families who need to ensure there is adequate entertainment for their kids. They often have activities like movies, games, hikes, etc., to fill your day with and they more often than not, offer hookups at the campsites for water, electricity and sewer. State and national parks are often more rustic offering only the most basic of services. This can vary widely from park to park so ensure you go on a scouting trip first to see what is available.
I mentioned the importance of a scouting or intelligence gathering trip to the park before committing to reserving anything online or over the phone. I cannot tell you enough how important this is, especially if you have never been to the park. All camp sites are not created equal, trust me…some are too close together, some are too small, some don’t have enough shade and some have too much shade. My wife and I always scout new parks before we reserve any sites for a trip. We often drive to the park on a weekend and stop by the ranger station for a map. We then proceed to drive around the entire campground noting which sites look promising. Trust me when I say you will be glad you did this, nothing is worse than baking in a wide open campsite when the sun is high in the sky and the temperature is 95 degree out.
Camping comes in many forms, the three that I am going to talk about are car camping, primitive camping and trailer/RV camping. The types of camping are as different as apples and oranges and some prefer type one over another. I have done all three and I have enjoyed them all.
Car camping is probably the type of camping most people are familiar with. It involves being able to pull or back your car right into the campsite and it great for families. Having access to the car lets you store your cooler in the trunk when in bear country; it also allows you to haul more crap into the campsite. We did this all the time before we got our pop up camper. We used to bring a tent or two and sleeping bags as well as a screen room and other assorted stuff. This offers the greatest bang for the buck for families with kids because you can bring the bikes and other stuff right into the campsite and not have to worry about carrying stuff over long distances. You can also just hop into the car and drive to a grocery store if you happen to forget something, very convenient.
Primitive camping is a bit more work and you really have to enjoy camping to be able to enjoy this. I really do enjoy primitive camping every once in a while but it isn’t my favorite type of camping. In primitive camping situation you most likely will park your car in a lot and have to hike into your campsite. Distances vary widely and range from a few hundred yards to several miles. When my wife and I lived in NJ we did this at Round Valley Reservoir. We needed to hike 5 miles to get to the campsite and therefore we needed to carry everything on our back. We carried 40 pound packs for the 5 miles and trust me we checked our list twice because it was 5 miles back to the car if we forgot something. This is very primitive, the only thing they offered was a fire pit and a spigot for water (and you had to walk to get to it). You will be eating freeze dried meals most likely and you will have to rough it in every sense of the word; including hiking all your waste out with you.
RV or trailer camping is similar to car camping except that you bring an RV or trailer with you. We do this most often now because we have a pop up camper. This is luxurious by camping standards as many times you have air conditioning, hot water and porta potties right in your camper. Our pop up has a propane grill and stove, hot water heater, AC, lights, refrigerator, outdoor shower, and a queen sized and full sized bunk; a far cry from sleeping in a tent on the ground. To take full advantage of it you will need hookups at the site for electricity (if you don’t have a battery), water (ours has a 23 gallon we can fill), and sewer (or a dump station). Camp grounds vary so you will need to call or visit ahead of time to see what is available.
Regardless of the type of camping you enjoy or where you enjoy doing it, camping offers a rich and rewarding family experience. It allows you to spend time together, outside, in nature and experience life the way it should be experienced, rather than sitting inside playing video games or watching TV. Use camping trips to try out new survival equipment/ techniques or bone up on skills such as trap building or fire making. Trying out these skills during an enjoyable camping trip will make them easier for you to do when the chips are down and no fire means a night freezing and wet.
I would suggest you check out the resources online for your state. South Carolina has all of its state parks system online and there is a plethora of information available. We can reserves specific sites for up to a year in advance so I would suggest you check the resources available to you today and enjoy the great outdoors with your family.
...that is all.