By Jill “MamaBug” Frier

Summer is fast approaching and there is no time like the present to start planning outdoor activities and trips with your youngsters. One new activity our family plans to tackle this year is camping. We are avid hikers and love to find fun adventures around Arizona, both indoors and outdoors. But we have yet to take our daughter camping.

I believe in planning ahead and finding out what the experts have to say. There are many great websites and articles on the subject, but one of my very best resources is my dear friend Carol Satran. She and her family of six are true experts on all things camping, fishing and hunting in Arizona. They spend more time enjoying camping and the outdoors with their kids than anyone I know!

Carol shared her best tips for camping with kids:

  1. Start taking the kids camping when they are young. This makes a lot of sense – camping means that your kids are in a completely different environment with different habits, times and amenities. Be sure you prepare your kids for being outside in different types of weather and have a lot of patience as they learn and adapt to a new environment.
  2. Involve everyone in packing. This includes packing beforehand, setting up the campsite, breaking camp and putting camping gear away when you get home. Getting your kids involved in the packing and unpacking process helps them be a part of the whole camping experience. Kids want to be involved and including them in packing and unpacking keeps them interested and helps them learn the ins and outs of camping.
  3. Bring cards, a checker game and a board game or two to play. It’s important to be prepared for the inevitable changes in plans and these activities are always handy on a rainy afternoon (especially at places like Big Lake in July).
  4. Bring bicycles. Carol’s kids love riding their bikes at Big Lake and around other camping areas across the state (we love to ride at the Grand Canyon). It’s great entertainment and a quick, easy alternative to hiking longer distances.
  5. Bring your best trivia, stories and games. Sitting around the campfire sharing stories or playing games (for example, the alphabet game naming animals) is a fun way to pass the time and enjoy spending time with your family. Carol’s family also loves to play the Alaska trivia game, since they have been there so many times.
  6. Don’t forget the S’mores! Of course this goes without saying.

Where Are the Best Places to Camp?

Here are some of Carol’s favorite campsites to get her family outside, breathing the fresh air and seeing the beauty of nature in Arizona:

Big Lake

Big Lake, Arizona is located in the White Mountains of North Eastern Arizona, near the Sunrise Ski area. They are open from mid-April to mid-November, as weather permits (they are snowed in during the winter).

Blue Ridge Campground

The Blue Ridge Campground is located near Happy Jack, AZ. It’s one of the many campgrounds in the Coconino National Forest and is about 5 miles north of Blue Ridge Reservoir.

Wet Beaver Creek Campground

Located east of Sedona, near Camp Verde, the Wet Beaver Creek Campground is open year round. Situated right between Montezuma’s Castle and Montezuma’s Well, this is one of several campgrounds in the area. Many of the trails lead right into the heart of Sedona, and fantastic archeological sites are plentiful.

Her family also loves many of the campsites between Cottonwood and Sedona, camping at Lake Powell, sites outside of Flagstaff, and Dogtown Lake near Williams, AZ. And don’t forget to check out Arizona State Parks and one of the many National Parks in our state. Both have fantastic resources, great campgrounds and really good information about camping on their websites.

Before you head out to go camping, take time to prepare for your trip. Pack all of the food, clothing and equipment you will need. Watch the weather and pack appropriate clothing and gear. Stay in designated areas, pack out all of your garbage and keep your cell phone handy for emergencies. Make sure your kids understand the rules for camping, hiking and the outdoors, and check the local websites for your campground to look for alerts or special announcements. There are tons of great places to go camping in Arizona – take the time to find the right camping spot for you and your family.

Be sure to check out Ladybug’s Blog for more articles and recommendations for fun things to do outside with kids everywhere in Arizona!