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Have you ever thought, “What if my family is just not the outdoors type”? What if we’ve never been the type to get outdoors and “rough it”?  There are dozens of options for a family who would like to get their feet wet in the world of Mother Nature. State parks are a perfect first-time experience for the family who isn’t sure which way to go. Many state parks have added a beginner camping program that assists families looking to get more comfortable in the outdoors. One Texas State Park even offers workshops for families who need a little extra help with the basics of camping.

first time family camping, family camping in the Eastern Sierra's, California.3 Basic issues beginning campers encounter are:

1. Campsite set up. Choose a first-time campers workshop through one of the participating Texas State Park Programs. They’ll get you set up with a campsite near restrooms and with some conveniences like grill grates, and picnic pad with trash cans. Setting up your tent can often take a few tries. We encourage first timers to watch a video following the steps one at a time. Often labeling your tent poles with painting tape and a permanent marker can help you get the pattern down the first few times. It won’t be long before you can do it in minutes!

2. Fun in the Outdoors. What in the world do we do outdoors? Without iPads, smartphones, and TVs, what else is there to do? There are dozens of fun ways to enjoy family time outdoors!  You may need to spend some time looking into what your family would be most interested in doing together and then consider renting your outdoor fun gear from Outdoors Geek. Whether you fish, kayak, or geocache, we have everything you need to make your first adventure in the outdoors a great one! It never hurts to bring along a deck of cards, and even a few trivia games can be fun campfire entertainment. Don’t forget a ball, or a frisbee for some easy fun in the afternoons, and your camp chairs for conversation time around the campfire after dinner is done.

family camping, great camping food at great prices3. Building a campfire and cooking over it. Have you wondered how in the world you are going to start the infamous campfire? You’ve seen it done, but you’re worried you won’t be able to repeat it. A little practice can be helpful, but taking along some helpful tools is your best insurance. Fire-starter, strikers, and tinder make a great plan for the first time campfire starter.

Once your fire is roaring, you are ready for a meal! First time camping families may feel most comfortable with a simple meal that is easy to prepare over a fire. Something classic like hot dogs and baked beans are nearly fail-proof. Or you may even choose to prepare some meals at home and bring them ready to go. Beef stew and chili with cornbread are easy meals to warm and serve over a campfire.

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Your family may not be the “roughing it” type, but there are many ways to camp!

Not every family will be backcountry 2-day hikers. But get out there and find out what your family does like. Give a state park a try and see how you like a campsite with a few conveniences. Some parks even provide showering and restroom facilities. Whichever route you choose, just get outside, and enjoy the outdoors!