- Select the right campground for your family
- If you and your family are looking for a traditional “roughing it” type of camping experience and you want to completely disconnect from civilization for a few days, then camping at a state or national park is probably the right fit for you.
- If “glamping” is more your style and you want to spend your camping days hanging out by the pool, riding water slides, and bouncing on giant jumping pillows and spend your evenings roasting s’mores over an open fire and surfing the Internet, then a camping resort such as Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park™ is probably a much better fit for your family.
- Research the available accommodation options at the campground
- Almost all campgrounds offer tent camping and RV sites, but some now offer cabins that meet or exceed the typical hotel experience.
- All Jellystone Park locations offer tent, RV, and cabin accommodations. Most locations also offer luxury cabins with air conditioning, kitchenettes, cable TV, and more. Some Jellystone Park locations even offer specialty lodging options such as yurts, treehouses, and lodges than can accommodate up to 20 people.
- Determine if pets are allowed at the campground
- If you plan to vacation with your pet, before you make a reservation, you need to know whether pets are allowed at the campground and if so, what documentation (if any) is needed as some campgrounds require you to show your pet’s registration and vaccination records.
- Some campgrounds have dog runs or dog parks or even dog obstacle courses to keep your pets entertained during your stay. Please remember that almost all campgrounds will require you to always keep your pet on a leash.
- Many Jellystone Park locations offer pet-friendly cabins so you can stay in a cabin with your pet if desired.
- Consider renting an RV for your stay
- If you’ve always wanted to try an RV vacation but don’t own one, it’s now easier than ever to rent one. Many dealerships rent RVs, many campgrounds rent RVs (and then you don’t even have to drive it anywhere) and RVshare is the Airbnb equivalent of RV rental.
- RVshare.com is a great website to visit for information on RVing
- Make a packing list
- You don’t want to arrive at your campground and realize you’ve forgotten a key item so making a packing checklist is very helpful. Some items that first-time campers might not think to include on that list include chairs (to sit by the fire), flashlights and batteries, sunscreen, bug spray, water bottles, cooking/eating utensils, toiletries, hand sanitizer, and paper towels.
- Some campgrounds (such as Jellystone Park) have camp stores where you can purchase items that you may have forgotten to bring with you.
- Plan your meals in advance
Planning the meals for your first camping adventure might seems a bit overwhelming. Start by simply determining how many meals you’ll be preparing and compiling some quick and easy menu ideas. For more ideas, visit our Camp Recipes page.
- You can go with traditional campfire favorites such as hot dogs or quesadillas or up your game and cook items such as shish kebabs (which you can prepare and marinate in advance) or campfire burritos.
- There are a lot of easy camping food “hacks” to make campfire cooking even easier and more fun. One of our favorite breakfast hacks is to pour pancake batter into an old plastic bottle. Then you can easily squeeze out what you need and save the rest for later. Just be sure to keep it refrigerated.
- You may not have to cook every meal while camping. Some campgrounds offer quick serve or full-service restaurants. Many Jellystone Park locations offer family-friendly meal options such as pizza, barbecue, and hamburgers.
- Don’t settle for the same old s’mores
Making s’mores is a must-do camping activity but there are lots of new takes on the traditional dessert.
- Campfire cone: Grab your favorite toppings such as chocolate, marshmallows, strawberries, caramels, etc. and throw them in a waffle cone. Then wrap the cone in foil and toss it on the grill until it’s nice and melted.
- S’more nachos: Toss the traditional s’mores ingredients (chocolate, marshmallows, and graham crackers) into a foil pan and cover it with aluminum foil. Cook it over a grill or campfire until the chocolate is melted and the marshmallows are gooey. Dig in with a fork. For bonus points, throw in some non-traditional s’mores ingredients such as pretzels and chocolate peanut butter cups.
- Banana Boat: Peel a banana and cut it down the middle. Split it open and fill the inside with marshmallows and chocolate chips. Set the banana on a piece of aluminum foil and “tent” it so it won’t melt to the foil. Roast the banana over a campfire, then open up the tin foil, crunch up a graham cracker and enjoy.
- Check the weather before you depart
One of the great joys of camping is spending time outdoors. Of course, Mother Nature doesn’t always co-operate so you want to be prepared if the weather turns. If there’s a chance of rain during your stay, be sure to pack umbrellas, rain boots, extra towels, and extra changes of clothes.Some campgrounds are better equipped than others to keep the fun going even when the weather is bad. Jellystone Park locations have indoor recreation centers and facilities where kids can make arts and crafts projects such as ceramics and sand art, no matter what the forecast.
- Arrive early and take full advantage of your stay
During the summer camping season, campgrounds can get very busy – especially during peak “check in” times. At campgrounds that offer sites on a first-come, first- serve basis, you need to arrive as early as possible to secure the best site locations. Many Jellystone Park locations allow you to book online and even “lock” in a specific site location so you don’t have to worry about being left with a less desirable location such as being far away from the pool or lake.The earlier you arrive, the more time you will have to enjoy all the campground’s amenities and activities once you’ve unpacked. At Jellystone Park, that could mean more time at the pool or splashground or an extra round of mini golf or more time bouncing on the jumping pillow or simply more time hanging out with Yogi Bear and his friends.
- Have fun
Camping with your friends and family is meant to be fun. The process of planning and packing for your first camping trip might be a little stressful at times but once you arrive at your destination, be sure to sit back, relax, and just enjoy all the benefits of being outside on a beautiful summer day. Your activities can range from hiking on a nature trail to reading a book to watching your kids play in the splashground. Every family is different so be sure to do your research and take advantage of the camping amenities and activities that will most appeal to you and your family.