Camping can be a fun and educational experience for the whole family. If you live in the city or suburbs, it’s especially nice to expose your kids to nature. No matter where you live, however, camping is an adventure that gives everyone a break from their everyday routines.
One of the most scenic places to go camping with the whole family is beautiful East Tennessee. Pigeon River Campground has 20 exceptional campsites located right in the heart of the Great Smoky Mountains. As you start planning your trip, check out these six tips for making the most out of tent camping in the Smoky Mountains with your kids.
1. Practice Camping Out at Home
If this is going to be your kids’ first camping trip, it’s nice to give them an introduction to the camping experience before you leave home. If your kids haven’t spent a lot of time in nature, you may want to take them on a hike at a nearby park or another area with trails.
Camping out overnight in your backyard is a good way to get them accustomed to the basics of sleeping beneath the stars. You can teach them how to set up the tent. Your family could also have a cookout and do everything you might do on a real camping trip. This way, when you actually camp out, the kids will know what to expect.
Camping is almost as much about preparation as the trip itself. Let the kids help out with planning and packing. You should, of course, provide guidance and overrule any impractical suggestions. For example, kids may want to bring large toys that would be cumbersome on a camping trip. Explain to them the importance of packing light while bringing along essentials such as layered clothing, a flashlight, first aid kit, and food. The more involved your kids are in the planning process, the more invested they will be in the camping trip.
3. Bring Along Another Family
One way to ensure that your kids have fun while camping is to bring along another family with children. See if you can arrange a camping trip with a family whose kids are already friends with your little ones. Perhaps you have siblings or extended family nearby who you would like to spend a weekend with.
Inviting another family can make your trip more enjoyable for everyone. Kids can have fun together, while adults can share the responsibilities of watching the children. Camping is a great bonding experience for people of all ages.
Ideally, your getaway in East Tennessee will consist of the whole family communing with nature while you are tent camping in the Smoky Mountains. In reality, however, kids tend to get bored without having plenty of diversions on hand. That’s why you should bring along favorite games, toys, and other items that will keep them busy during downtime. If it’s a long drive to the campsite, you will also need diversions for the trip. Cards, travel-size games, Frisbees, small toys, puzzles, and books can all be helpful for this purpose.
Don’t forget to take advantage of all the great activities at the campsite and the surrounding area tool! Here are just a few of our favorite things to do:
- Ziplining at CLIMB Works.
- Hiking in the Smokies.
- Fishing, kayaking, and rafting in the Pigeon River.
- Making s’mores over the fire pit.
- Swimming in the onsite pool.
- Playing horseshoes, cornhole, and volleyball.
5. Bring Gear For Infants and Toddlers
If your little ones are not yet out of the crib, make sure you bring the necessary items to keep both you and your kids comfortable on your camping trip. A child potty is a must for very young kids. A portable crib is another item you won’t want to leave behind to make sure your child sleeps peacefully through the night. Other things you will want to bring include wipes, diapers, and a large Ziploc bag to store dirty diapers
Tent camping in the Smoky Mountains can be a great experience for the whole family. To be sure that everyone has fun, it’s important to be prepared for the elements. Nature is beautiful, but it’s also full of insects, unpredictable weather, and sharp surfaces that can cause minor injuries. Make sure you bring along plenty of snacks, beverages, extra layers of clothing, rain gear, bug repellent, sunscreen, band-aids, and a flashlight with extra batteries.
For a complete guide to packing, check out our blog about 10 things you don’t want to forget when Pigeon River Camping!