Family Fun Tips for the Great American Campout

Starting June 27, National Wildlife Federation is kicking off a season of camping with this year’s Great American Campout. You may have seen our new spokesperson, wildlife fan and great American Nick Offerman, encouraging you to get outside and enjoy the great outdoors in this summer by taking the pledge to camp. (If not, you should take the pledge today!)

bryce canyon
Hikers in Bryce Canyon, UT. Photo from National Wildlife Photo Contest entrant Debora Scheidemantel
Camping is a wonderful outdoor experience for campers of all ages and experience levels. You can camp nearly anywhere— in your backyard, your neighborhood, your local parks, state parks, and national parks, cabins, RVs, treehouses… you name it! – and find yourself with a great story to tell at the end of the night.

Our friends at Scholastic’s Parent & Child magazine have compiled some tips for first-time camping trips with young children that help you plan your trip, but once you’ve gotten to your site, make sure you’ve got plenty of things to do to make the most out of your time outdoors.

Here are a few tips for a family-friendly camping adventure:

Take the Time to Unplug

Even gummy bears can listen around a campfire :) NWF Photo by Logan Liskovec
The buzzing and chirping of the natural world can be drowned out by those coming from our smartphones and tablets. Set the electronics to silent and focus on all of the great things around you. But don’t worry about bringing your phone or camera out to snap a picture of some local wildlife to enter into the National Wildlife® Photo Contest or your own #campie (camping + selfie = campie) and share it with NWF on social media.

Observe Local Wildlife

Open your eyes and ears to the sights around you. There are signs of the season popping up everywhere, and Ranger Rick’s Nature Notebook provides great tips to help train your senses to discover the world around you. The full moon frolic could be particularly fun with the area near your campsite.

Tell Stories

Sharing stories in front of a campfire is a cornerstone of camping for a good reason. Inspiration from the outdoors can put your creativity on high gear and open your imagination to new and wonderful possibilities. Encourage your children to tell their own stories, and give them a little help with a story starter, like this one from the Scholastic Summer Reading Challenge.

Enjoy Each Other’s Company

Getting away from the normal ins and outs of our routine gives us a chance to take a moment and catch up with family and friends. One of my family’s favorite traditions when we’re all together is to let our competitive sides loose with endless hands of card games or checkers. We even have a giant roll-up checkers game that comes along for picnics and other trips, which you can also find on

Whatever the way you do it, take your time outdoors to enjoy the people you’re spending it with.

Button_Pledge-to-Camp_2015_150x26_Orange When you pledge to camp this summer, $1 for each camper will be donated to protect the great outdoors for all Americans, up to $100,000.