1.       Nature- Nothing will teach your children to respect wildlife and the importance of keeping wildlife in its natural habitat than seeing it firsthand.  Most of the state parks have lovely campsites that are ranger monitored as well as having naturalists on site.  They have free programs for kids like owl walks in darkness to listen for animals.  They also have seasonal events and activities focused on specific species.

2.       Get up and move!!- Nothing gets your kid moving like having to jump on a bike to get to the flush potties…

3.       Family unity- Sitting around a fire and actually talking to your kids with no electronic distraction, no peer distraction… just you.  You really get to know your kids if the distractions are taken away and they really TALK to you.

4.       Slow down…- Camping has the magical ability to take the rush and hectic of day to day life out of the equation.  Time slows down.  It is good to just breathe…

5.       Working together- Forced to put up tents, make meals, start fires… your family is forced to work as a unit in a way that modern life has almost eliminated.  It helps to reaffirm that unit.

6.       Community- A strange sense of community is created between yourself, your kids and the other campers at the site, even for a stay as short as a weekend.  Again, modern life has almost eliminated this need for community in our day to day lives, so finding it at a campsite is refreshing.

7.       Scary stories- What kid doesn’t like sitting around the fire and telling or hearing creeptastic tales of gore and monsters?

8.       Planning- Kids learn the valuable lesson of planning when the only resources that you have are those that you brought with you.

9.       Fresh air makes everything taste better- Yeah.  I don’t know why.  But it does.

10.   Smores- One of the many things that taste better in fresh air and over an open fire.

11.   Dancing in the Streets- A boom box and dancing kids… need I say more?

12.   Mosquito bites- I don’t know why, but my nine year old insists that they are an important part of the experience…

13.   Memories that last a lifetime- When your kid is thirty something, they aren’t going to look back at their childhood and say, “My mom bought me a 3dDS.  That meant so much to me and made me a better person.”  But camping?  This is the stuff of warm fuzzy childhood memories.  Sunburn is forgotten, mosquito bites only last a little while… but the memories of being together, warm sun shining on your back as you laugh hysterically at the fact that little Jimmy just swallowed a bug in their juice?  This is the stuff that character comes from.

See ya at the campgrounds!!

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