The pros at REI offer these tips for camping with the kids.
Exude a positive vibe: The first rule of camping with kids? Be prepared to cope with inconvenience. Everything is in a different place. The bathroom is no longer down the hall, it's 6 campsites down the path. As an adult, you must lead by example with an upbeat, can-do attitude.
Organize: Establish fixed locations for important items, such as, "The forks and spoons are in the blue tub," and "flashlights are in the green stuff sack."
Then stay organized: Remind everyone to always return items to their established locations so others can find them. If you're especially industrious, create a reference list of these items and tape it someplace obvious.
Keep everyone oriented: Help kids memorize the number of your campsite or point out landmarks ("We're 4 sites from the amphitheater") to help them remember its location.
Make kids feel important: Kids like to be involved. Assign them some meaningful camp chores, such as gathering firewood or collecting water from the pump. Recognize their contributions with praise or a treat (or both).
Be safe: Your kids should always carry a whistle (teach them to blow it if they become separated from you) and have easy access to a flashlight or headlamp. Attach a lanyard to both the whistle and light and tie them to one of the child's belt loops.
Wildlife: Ask park rangers about wildlife activity in the area you are visiting. As the adult, you need to take the lead and understand any precautions necessary (such as proper food storage or how to react during an up-close encounter) for safely coexisting with wildlife. Educate your children about the importance of not feeding wild animals (it negatively alters their food-gathering patterns) and treating wildlife with respect and caution so everyone stays safe.
To shop for all the camping gear you'll need visit www.REI.com.