Camping isn’t just about reconnecting with family and friends — it’s about connecting with our natural environment. Part of our responsibility as campers is to keep the impact on our environment to a minimum while we enjoy it. We all know that we should “leave no trace” while in the wilderness, but that can be hard to do when camping, especially with large groups or children on family vacations. Campers travel an average of 186.7 miles to go camping and spend an average of 14 days at a campsite, which can make cleaning up an extra chore that many don’t feel they have time for.
Cleaning a campsite can be difficult, but it is also an important part of the experience. Check out these tips for making and keeping your campsite clean and pristine during your family camping vacations:
- Less is more. When packing for your trip, be deliberate and mindful of what you are bringing. The more times you go camping, the better you should be able to plan for your next trip. Doing things like prepping for meals before you go, “undressing” snacks and toiletries products, and using versatile pieces of clothing instead of several different ones is a great way to reduce mess before you even get to the campsite.
- Bring biodegradable soaps for washing: Soaps and laundry detergent that is biodegradable can help lessen the impact on the environment.
- If you are tent camping, start a garbage bag as soon as you set up camp, but make sure to move it inside or into an animal or bear-proof locker before you go to bed every night. Consider using a pop-up hamper with a zipper, lined with a heavier duty trash bag.
- Bring a mat to put outside of your tent or cabin entrance, to prevent the inside from getting messy, muddy, and hard to pack up later.
The overwhelming majority of surveyed campers said they’re planning an average of 4.9 camping trips. Whether you go on one trip or five, make sure to try that your family camping vacations “leave no trace”.
Over the years, the Jellystone Park campgrounds have become more conscious of implementing earth friendly and nature-focused education programs.
Families who visit the Jellystone Park campground in Williamsport, Md. find that the forested campground is green in more ways than one. The Maryland campground not only has several onsite recycling centers for aluminum cans, paper and cardboard. It also provides boxes for recyclable waste inside each rental cabin.
“We give our recycled materials to Goodwill and to a local non-profit center for people with special needs,” said Carrie Cerrito, the campground’s general manager.
Meanwhile, at the Jellystone Park in Fremont, Indiana, solar heating is used to provide supplemental heating for outdoor swimming pools, while the Jellystone Park in Larkspur, Colo. has integrated a goat ranch into its operations for fire mitigation and guest education purposes.
But the green initiatives underway at Jellystone Park campgrounds aren’t limited to recycling programs and infrastructure improvements. Many Jellystone Parks are also developing nature-focused activity and education programs.
“Across the U.S. and Canada, growing numbers of Jellystone Park Camp Resorts are complementing their green initiatives with activity and education programs that encourage children and adults alike to take better care of the environment,” said Michele Wisher, Director of Marketing for Milford, Ohio-based Leisure Systems Inc., which franchises Jellystone Parks across North America.
The 79-unit family campground chain was the first campground organization in the U.S. to join Leave No Trace, a Boulder, Colo.-based non-profit organization that develops educational programs to help children and adults take better care of the environment.
Leave No Trace provides Jellystone Park operators with information on how to develop their own nature education programs, which park operators can tailor to suit their guests’ interests. Here is a sampling of some of the nature oriented activities taking place at Jellystone Parks across North America this spring, summer and fall:
— Austin, Minnesota: This campground recycles water bottles for use in arts and crafts activities. They also have a junior ranger program filled with nature-focused activities. On Mother’s Day, children also planted a flower garden for Cindy Bear.
— Bloomington, Indiana: This campground offers daily nature hikes. WildCare Inc., an organization dedicated to rehabilitating and taking in injured and orphaned animals from around Monroe County, is also bringing in three of their ambassadors to teach campers about responsible wildlife interactions and what to do if they find an injured animal in their own backyard.
— Bradford, Ontario (Toronto Market): This campground offers a weekly nature walk and scavenger hunt followed by a nature craft activity.
— Fremont, Indiana: This campground has nature focused scavenger hunts, craft activities involving recycled materials and Leave No Trace activities.
— Indian River, Michigan: This campground offers nature crafts; nature hikes; bug hunts; and pond exploration activities. This fall, the park will also offer Northern Michigan Safaris to give campers the ability to spot as many different types of wildlife as possible.
— Larkspur, Colorado: This campground has a goat ranch integrated into the operations of the campground with daily opportunities for campers to feed and pet the goats. Other nature oriented activities include brushing a miniature horse; collecting eggs from the chicken coop; and preparing the campground’s gardens. The campground also has an observation bee hive and displays on bee keeping, the history of bees and the importance of bees.
Summer goes by fast – make your reservation for a fun-filled summer vacation at Jellystone Park campgrounds today!
The Leave No Trace e-Tour visited the Jellystone Park campground in Frankenmuth, Michigan for “Family Reunion Weekend.” Frankenmuth, known as Little Bavaria, is an interesting community with a strong German heritage that was settled first as a Lutheran mission in the early 19th Century. The celebration of its Bavarian roots is the signature feature of the community today. Local school children still study German from kindergarten to high school, and the architectural styling, music, food, and beer all recall the traditions of German alpine culture.
Here is an excerpt from the Leave No Trace blog:
Once again, it was a full and busy Jellystone that greeted us on Friday night as we arrived at our campsite in the farmlands of Eastern Michigan near Saginaw Bay. The campground was carefully groomed, with a network of paved roads that the kids (and adults) used to good advantage for their virtually nonstop cruising on bicycles and pedal-cars. We could hear squeals of laughter as spontaneous games of wheeled chase erupted on the child-friendly autobahn, and the “pursued” pedaled furiously to outpace their equally determined “pursuers.”
We’ve come to appreciate the appeal of Jellystone as a similarly safe and comfortable haven for young and old who seek to enjoy a sense of community with like-minded neighbors. It’s a place where all can take pause from the frenetic pace of urbanized and internetized lifestyles, and enjoy the outdoor leisure activities that kids and adults have timelessly appreciated when afforded the opportunity.
The Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics and the Jellystone Park™ campground system have forged a partnership to reach hundreds of thousands of families with Leave No Trace education. The partnership is part of a comprehensive effort to teach outdoor skills and ethics, as well as help make the critical connection between people and the outdoors.