Getting ready for camping

Wintertime may not be an ideal time to camp with your family, but it’s a great time to start planning your summer camping trip.

According to Stephen R. Kellert, author of “Nature and Childhood Development,” nature is important to children’s development in every major way intellectually, emotionally, socially, spiritually and physically. Kellert states, “ Play in nature during the critical period of middle childhood appears to be an especially important time for developing the capacities for creativity, problem solving, and emotional and intellectual development”.

Camping is a perfect way to get children out into nature in a new environment that is conducive to fun, growth and development. Now is a great time to prepare for your camping trip, including your children in the process by making use of the World Wide Web. A good online source that will provide them with information about the variety of Michigan camping opportunities including rustic camping, modern camping and even camping in cabins is the Michigan Department of Natural Resources’ (DNR) website.  

As you will find, Michigan parks are unique and many offer several different activities for campers to participate in during their stay in the park. In most cases, there are camping opportunities in close proximity to your home. Sit down with your child or children and review the information found on each site, determining exactly what kinds of activities you would like to experience during your camping trip. Then take a map and locate those parks that interest you. Now you can become explorers and take trips to those parks that interest you. I suggest that when you arrive at a park that you stop at the park headquarters and get more detailed information about activities that interested you; also pick up a map of the park to enhance your explorations. Talking with park staff about the various amenities the park has to offer, suggestions on camp sites and locations within the park and activities that children and adults can enjoy in the park or near the park will add to your experience.  

After obtaining that information, take a drive to locations within the parks that interest you and take a walk around the area; wintertime is a great time to do your exploring because there are usually fewer people in the parks; you’ll be able to engage in an uninterrupted tour and assessment of the park. After a few trips to various parks, you will be better equipped to plan your next camping trip.

Camping is a wonderful way to commune with nature, strengthen relationships within families, make new friends and learn about our natural resources up-close and personal.

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