Glowsticks in empty water bottles make a great lantern (and safe) lantern for kids—no batteries requires.

Glowsticks in empty water bottles make a great lantern (and safe) lantern for kids—no batteries requires.

Jill’s Top 10 Camping Tips for Families
Among her friends, Jill Bergman is known as the person they’d most want with them on a deserted island. She’s the one who has a brilliant life hack and sanity saving tip for every occasion.

Like this one for families going to Disney: Jill suggests buying Disney-themed souvenirs at a much lower price beforehand and gifting the kids in the hotel room. Gifting kids with a small item each day makes skipping the overpriced gift shops a LOT easier, and cuts a chunk out of daily expenses. Genius, right? So as part of our Summer Camp 2014 series, we asked her for a few of her favorite camping tricks and tips. As usual, she did not fail to deliver.

Jill’s Top 10 Camping Tips for Families

1.  Put a small glow stick in a water bottle for a night-light for the kids. No batteries wasted and they have their own light.

2.  Before leaving, make a nature scavenger hunt list and add things specific to your child (i.e. find 3 sticks shorter than your foot). Tape the list to a paper bag and use photos if your child is not yet reading.

3. Large blocks of ice keep much better than bags of ice. Most of the stores and gas stations closer to camping sites stock them. Ice up your coolers just before you get to the campgrounds.

4. Cell phones don’t work, bring a watch or other timekeeping device.

5. Be comfortable. Spend the money on a good sleeping pad.

6.  If you are staying on a lake or river, bring biodegradable soap for some semi-clean river baths.

7.  When camping, everyone helps. Use the camping trip as a time to get the kids to help with everything from preparing food to building the fire to even pumping and getting water.

8. Play games or storytelling devices that don’t require pieces or parts like  Bud/Rose/Thorn, or Two Truths and a Lie,  or ‘Mad-Lib’ type stories where everyone fills in a bit of the silly story as it goes around in a circle. They’re great for when you’re hanging out around the campfire.

9. Accept the dirt and pack less than you think.

10. Here’s my favorite camp cooking list. I’ve tried many of these gems:
-Cake in an Orange:  this was a huge hit, easy, and we all liked eating oranges. One hint, bring an ice cream scoop to scoop out the oranges.
-Peach Cobbler: Yum!
-Bread on a Stick: Super fun for the kids.
-Popcorn in a Bag: Add sugar to make it kettle corn.
-Breakfast burritos: These are a must, and easy to make and freeze at home. They thaw in the cooler and warm up on coals or in a fry pan for a filling first breakfast.
-I do as much prep at home as possible, including making a big tasty chili (with lots of pureed veggies hidden inside) we warmed it up over the campfire and served it inside Frito bags and topped them with cheese and sour cream. Serve with a spoon for a delicious filling meal with limited dishes to clean afterwards.

Jill as M. Poppins, Matthew as Mr. Penguin.

Jill as Mary Poppins, Matthew as penguin.