Friday, August 06, 1999

Camping fosters family bonding


Well-planned outing helps kids grow

BY CINDY KRANZ
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Now that the heat has subsided, at least temporarily, the great outdoors looks more appealing.

        It's a good time to dust off the tent and go camping with your family before school starts and the snow flies. It's an inexpensive vacation that will be memorable for everyone.

ON THE WEB<
  For more information on camping, check out the Coleman Company's Web site at www.coleman.com The site offers information on where to camp, what to pack, setting camp, cooking tips, recipes and camping products.

  Kids can check out www.colemanforkids.com The site offers an outdoor newsletter for kid-specific camping and hiking, a gear guide, campfire tales, nature information, national park facts, trip tips and membership information in the free Coleman Kids' Club.

        “Family camping is a priceless experience,” says Jim Reid, director of public relations for the Coleman Co., manufacturer of camping and leisure-time products. “Many people say some of their fondest childhood memories were created while camping with family and friends.”

        What's more, the campsite and outdoors provide classrooms for children of all ages to learn and make discoveries.

        “And while the experience is mostly about having fun, another thing that usually happens is the formation of special bonds between kids and their parents,” Mr. Reid says. “It goes beyond just sharing a special time and place together, but draws upon a sense of accomplishment and self-sufficiency that camping fosters.”

        Camping is the most popular outdoor vacation activity in America, says the Travel Industry Association (TIA). A recent TIA survey projects a 6 percent increase in camping over last year.

        The Coleman Co. offers these tips to prepare for and enjoy camping:

        • Test all equipment, such as tents, stoves, lanterns and grills to make sure all pieces are accounted for and working. Water-seal the tent for the season, air out the sleeping bags and refresh one's memory on setup and packing.

        • Sleep outside for the night. This allows parents a chance to see how their children react to sleeping in a tent. Parents may find they need to pack extra supplies, such as a sleeping pad or air mattress, to make their child comfortable.

        • Take a battery-operated lantern. It's helpful to have when sleeping in separate tents or camping with very young children.

        • Make notes of the back yard experience: Buy extra air mattresses, replace batteries in the lantern, purchase new fuel cartridges and don't forget favorite blankets, stuffed animals and other items needed for comforting children at bedtime.

        • Consider the time of year, destination, activities, food and equipment needed. If it's the first camping trip with the kids, try taking a one- or two-night trip that's not too far from home.

        • Plan all menus in advance, and pack lots of healthy snack foods. Nutritious snacks will come in handy on long nature walks or trail hikes.

        • Have the kids make their own personalized trail mix before the trip. Assemble items, such as pretzels, nuts, raisins, chocolate chips and dried fruit. Store the trail mixture in individual zippered bags to take out on the trail.

        • Bring menu-specific measured items to save time and space. For example, measure all of the dry ingredients for pancakes and pack them in a covered container. Don't forget to label the items.

        • Pack a camera and plenty of film. Collect mementos, such as area postcards and trail maps, from your trip and make a scrapbook when you return.

        • Pack a first-aid kit with sunscreen, bug repellent, itch reliever, pain reliever, cold medicines, rubbing alcohol, cotton balls, anti-bacterial ointment, bandage strips and any prescription medications.

        • Purchase insect-, bird-, and flower-identifying books to use as reference guides during nature walks and hikes.

        • Pack a box of crayons and paper so kids can make nature rubbings along the way. And bring along a campsite activity packet filled with books, board games, crossword puzzles, cards and puzzles.

        • Supervise young children to avoid contact with poisonous plants, such as poison ivy, oak and sumac.

        • Pack clothing in trash bags. The bags keep clothes dry in wet or humid weather and can double as laundry bags.

        • Attach bells to your toddler's shoes so you can hear whether he or she starts to wander off. Let older children carry whistles so they can whistle for help if they get lost.

        • Take along bread crumbs to feed the ducks or fish.

        • Hide a favorite snack in your gear. If it rains, you'll have a treat to distract the kids.



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