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Camping 101: Make your family camping trip a success

* Get the right gear. Entry to many campgrounds is free or nearly free. However, camping gear could cost money. The good thing about camping gear is it's reusable. If this year's camping trip is a success, then next year's trip won't cost nearly as much. Visit a local camping store and explain your situation, including what you hope to get out of the camping trip and where you'll be heading. An associate should be able to help you find the right gear for your trip, including a tent, lights, a water filter, cooking materials, and inflatable mattresses. The materials needed for a successful camping trip are many, but again these materials are reusable and can last a lifetime if families choose the right gear.

* Stock up on the essentials. Once you have purchased the right gear, don't forget to stock up on the other essentials. Particularly during the warmer months, campgrounds can be very hot and insects abound. Be sure to bring adequate amounts of sunscreen and bug spray and apply each liberally every day. Even if the sky is overcast, apply sunscreen to avoid painful sunburn. Other essentials include toilet paper (bring more than you expect to use), bottled water, plates and utensils, and garbage bags. Be sure to bring extra garbage bags to avoid littering in the campground.

* Don't forget to have fun. Families should emphasize having fun when visiting the campground. Because camping is not a resort-style vacation, it's up to Mom and Dad to entertain the kids. Bring along a guitar for a campfire sing-a-long, and pack a few board games the family can enjoy under the stars at night. If a nearby park is known for being especially family-friendly, consider it as a campsite. Kids might meet fellow campers their own age and make some new friends.

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