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April 25, 2024

Where Every Family Matters

Camping With Kids!

A crackling fire at night, early morning walks and NO electronics! How's that for family togetherness?!

Camping may not be your idea of a getaway, but kids sure do LOVE it! Why not plan a camping adventure for your family? It just might be one of your family's highlights of the summer!


• Do a practice run first! A child’s first camping trip (or an adult’s first camping trip with kids) is an exciting and sometimes overwhelming thing. Don’t drive for hours to find out that your little one has a hard time sleeping in a tent and is up all night. Do a few practice runs in the backyard so that your kids know a little of what to expect.

• When you’re ready, reserve a campsite at one of Tennessee’s State Parks and make use of handy the handy mobile app.

• When you arrive at your site, walk the boundaries with the kids so they won’t wander out of site. Give them landmarks to look for, as in, “You can go from that group of rocks to this tree, and stay away from the road.” If they know their boundaries from the beginning, you can go about preparing your campsite.

• Take advantage of the family fun things to do in the parks like hiking, fishing, swimming, geocaching, boating and more.


Tennessee State Parks has an online reservation system for camping, cabins and lodges. Go online to find your spot. Camping rates are standardized according to the facilities available. The standardized rates range from $8 (four people) per night for primitive sites up to $25 (four people) for premium sites. Typical campsites with water and electric are $20 per night for four people; $1 each additional person. Some Tennessee State Parks have self-registration procedures where the campers register themselves upon entry to the campground. Rates for self-registration camping may be slightly higher than the above rates but they all have base rates that include up to four people.  


• Think “simple.” One or two things a day will suffice. Trying to do too much can easily overwhelm everyone.

• Just let them play. Plan lots of downtime in your day so that your kids can just enjoy being outside. Kids require very few things to make them happy. Usually rocks, sticks and dirt suffice and if there’s water, even better. A few toys that are great to have in the camping arsenal are buckets, shovels, Frisbees and balls.

• Don’t stress. Camping with kids almost never goes exactly as planned – relax. Your attitude will rub off on the kids.

• Go for a nature walks. Children can have fun pointing out the different leaves, insects, tracks on the ground, vegetation, etc.

• Use a sling and a pack-n-play for infants. Use a sheet or blanket on the ground as a place for all toys.

• Stuff all of your family’s dirty laundry into one large bag, so you can just toss it in your laundry room when you get home.

• Consider bringing a potty seat for toddlers.

• Pack fun food items, too — (kids love those mini boxes of cereal).

Family Packing List


Sleeping Bags
Sleeping Pads, Pillows
Tarp, rope
Camp chairs
First Aid kit


Cooler, ice, food
Drinks and water
Stove, fuel, funnel
Barbecue and propane
Lighter and fluid
Pots and lids
Oven mitts
Cutting board
Knives, forks, spoons
Steak knives
Large knife
Plates, bowls, cups
Coffee pot
Serving spoons
Tongs, can opener
Leftover containers
Aluminum foil
Tablecloth & weights
Dishpan, dish soap
Bar soap
Dish cloths, scrubber
Washcloths, towels
Dustpan and whisk
Garbage bags


Sun hats, sun glasses
Rain gear
Warm layers
Swim suits (if warm enough)


Clothesline and pins
Roll of duct tape
Books, magazines
Paper, pencils
Playing cards, games
Scissors, tools
Camera & batteries
Laundry bag
Insect repellent
Directions to site
Toilet paper
Paper towels    

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