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Camping can be a family bond while enjoying the great outdoors

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With school out for some and almost over for others, families are probably planning a summer vacation. If you’re tired of the usual summer treks but crave something different, why not try something that bonds the family more so than a trip to the shore or the long trek to Disney in Orlando. As such, did you ever consider camping?

Camping is a more laid back outdoor pursuit that puts the family back to nature. And by following some simple tips, life in the great outdoors can be simple and relaxing.

The folks at Coleman, the camping equipment leader, offer these helpful tips and suggestions to put you on the path to enjoyable camping.

* Ask for Help: Seek out friends who are campers to share advice on preferred equipment and other pointers. They can provide invaluable information on where to go and what to avoid. They may also invite you to join them and help get you started. Do it! Don’t be bashful. Look for camping clubs in your area and join one if available. Check local libraries, the Internet or book stores for publications on beginning camping. They can be quite helpful. Ask local sporting goods dealers, like Cabela’s who has a vast camping section on the second floor, for advice.

* Strike Out On Your Own: Millions have done it before you and not only survived, but thrived. Just use common sense and be sure to plan. Local state parks have campgrounds and for those who don’t want to tent camp, they have cabin rentals available.

* Make Your First Trip Short: Save Mt. Everest for later. Make a trial run setting up camp in your back yard or nearby park for a day trip. Give yourself a chance to get familiar with all pieces of equipment you borrowed or bought. Choose a developed campsite when you strike out, one that offers a few comforts like hot showers, restrooms, picnic tables and barbecue grills. As your confidence and experience grows, move on to more remote or wilderness areas.

* Keep It Simple: Try to take only what you need. Use checklists to insure you have the essentials and revise your list periodically to customize gear to your needs and preferences.

* Planning Is The Key: Especially meal planning. Jot down a menu for each day and pack your food supplies and utensils accordingly. Think through preparation of each meal and refer to your checklist to insure you have what you need. If something is forgotten, improvise. And revise your list for the next trip.

* Be Prepared: Particularly for temperature extremes. Check weather forecasts before leaving home. Keep in mind that highs and lows can be beyond general weather predictions. Pack clothes accordingly and with some margin for error. The extra blanket can come in handy.

* Take Two Coolers: Use one for beverages, the other for food supplies. This is especially important on longer trips. Food keeps better and lasts longer if separated and not subjected to constant opening of the cooler lid to get beverages. Drink coolers can be smaller and restocked as needed.

* Choose A Quality Tent: It’s shelter from the elements. Don’t scrimp. Pick the size and configuration that best suits your needs and choose one that is well constructed of quality materials and components so it lasts for seasons.

* Take Reference Books, Games: You’ll enjoy the trip more and have answers to kids’ questions about the great outdoors. Books on wildlife, wildflowers and plants, celestial bodies and historic locations. Make it fun and everybody learns. A deck of cards or board games (remember those), iPad’s can help entertain kids on the road or on rainy days.

* Take Pictures: Save the memories by taking photos that can be relived for years to come.

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