|Photo Credit: Lion Country Safari KOA|
Tip #1: Do a practice run. The idea of sleeping in a tent can be so exciting for kids that the over stimulation may keep everyone from having a good night. Families can build up a familiarity with camping by putting the tent up in their own back yard. Start out slow allowing the kids to play in the tent during the day. The next day have dinner out in the backyard to prepare the kids for what it will be like to have a campground dinner. Last but not least, spend the night in the tent. Do this as many times as needed until everyone is comfortable with and can go to sleep easily.
Tip #2: Keep it close to home. It is easy to forget that there are great campsites within an hour’s drive from Fort Lauderdale. A first camping trip doesn’t have to be far away. CB Smith Park, Markham Park, John Prince Park, and Miami Everglades Campgrounds all offer local opportunities for family camping. Camprate.com can help find a campground and give reviews of the grounds as well.
Tip #3: Keep it short. Don’t think a first camping trip should be a weeklong adventure. Start out small and work up to longer trips. Pick a campground with lots to do and just stay one night. When the entire family learns how to work together and sleep well then make plans for that nice long camping vacation. State parks also offer facilities like water and restrooms. There is no reason to go completely rustic on the first trip out.
Tip #4: Be prepared with Activities. CB Smith Park in Pembroke Pines has lots to offer to entertain and wear out the kids. There is biking, hiking, boating, and in the summer there is even a water park. Check out the local area surrounding your campground as well. Flamingo Gardens is a short 15 minute drive from CB Smith Park. These built in activities can help reduce planning time. Another option is the Kampgrounds of America (KOA) located at Lion Country Safari in West Palm Beach. This campsite and zoo is an easy 40 minute drive from Fort Lauderdale and provides facilities that will keep the family happily entertained at all times. Lion Country Safari often offers specials for two free passes to the park with a night of camping, and it even has a pool. Jennifer Berthume, PR/Marketing Director of Lion Country Safari says “The thing I think is the coolest about our campground is that you can sleep right next door to hundreds of animals from over 6 continents. You can hear lions and siamangs while camping!” No one will be bored at campgrounds like these, and parents won’t have to exhaust themselves planning activities in advance.
Tip #5: Check the weather. Florida weather can be extreme, so make sure that it is not going to be too hot, too cold or too wet. There is nothing worse than a wet night in a tent. Florida’s winter and fall generally have the mildest weather and are a great time of the year to camp. With a little background practice families can be prepared for exciting camping adventures that will provide children with memories for a lifetime.