Expert Advice on Family Camping Adventures

Kathleen Roberts
Rock climbing in the Ventana Wilderness

LoveToKnow Camping recently spoke with camping expert and blogger Roy Scribner about family camping adventures. Learn why Roy feels camping is an important activity for kids and how you can plan some adventures for your own family.

About Roy Scribner: Camping Blogger

Roy Scribner is a former U.S. Army Paratrooper with extensive outdoor experience in some of the world's harshest environments, from the mangrove swamps of Panama to the Arctic Circle to the deserts of the Middle East.

Roy and his wife Lisa, along with their three children, camp extensively throughout the Pacific coast. Roy writes and blogs to encourage other parents to get outdoors, explore nature and have family camping adventures with their children.

Family Camping Adventures Interview with Roy Scribner

How long have you been camping with your family?

Lisa and I grew up camping with our parents, so it just seemed natural to both of us that once we had a family of our own, we would take our kids camping. We have a four-year-old son and two girls, ages seven and eight. We've changed a lot of diapers on our camping trips! But parents shouldn't be afraid of that. Toddlers love the outdoors since there are so many new things to see and touch.It really started becoming a regular, monthly activity for us four years ago when we moved to the San Francisco Bay area. All of the people, cars and concrete were a bit overwhelming for us, so taking off for a weekend at the beach, or up to the mountains, became a way for us to decompress and spend some quality time together as a family.

Camping was a way for us to stay connected with our friends in Oregon. Each summer we all "meet in the middle" somewhere and spend a week camping together. We all really look forward to these trips and it helps us all to stay connected with old friends.

So far, we have met in the redwoods of California's Jedediah Smith Redwood State Park, Crater Lake National Park in Oregon and Lassen Volcanic National Park in California.

Why is camping important for your family?

Lisa and I set a goal for ourselves to take the family camping at least once every month, and we pretty much stick to that come rain or come shine. During the winter months we usually stick to the milder coastal areas, from Morro Bay in the south to Fort Bragg, north of San Francisco. In the summer we escape the heat by heading up into the Sierra Mountains.It's great when the five of us can be together without the distractions of TV, telephones and stuff like that. One of the things you quickly discover is that kids have an innate curiosity about the world around them. Many of our friends expressed concern that their kids would get bored when they went camping, but that is never the case. Kids don't need TV and video games to have fun. They'll have fun wherever they are and it's up to us, as parents, to nurture that curiosity.

Planning Camping Activities for Family Fun

How do you plan your camping adventures?

Planning for us is all about being prepared to go at a moment's notice. My work involves a fair bit of travel during the week and Lisa is working on her Master's degree, so her schedule is also very busy. We don't usually know exactly which weekend during the month will be our camping weekend until the week prior, so having as much of our gear as possible packed and ready to go is critical for us.To help prepare ourselves, we try to keep things as simple as possible. We usually have the same types of meals; a pasta dish on Friday night when we get to the campsite, pancakes and eggs for breakfast on Saturday morning, soup and sandwiches for lunch and hamburgers or fajitas for dinner. On Sunday morning it's cold cereal for breakfast and we pack up to head home.

It might sound repetitious, but it's an easy way to ensure that we always have the right food items on hand, so we don't have to stop at the store on the way out of town.

What are your family's favorite camping activities?

I think our kids' favorite activity must be playing in the dirt and mud! We take a lot of sports activities like a soccer ball, football, Frisbee® and a plastic horseshoe set. Of course, in the evening, it's all about s'mores or popcorn around the campfire.

My eight-year-old daughter is really starting to get into hiking, so I try to encourage that by incorporating some kind of adventure to foster her interest. On a recent hike along the Santa Lucia Trail, in the Ventana Wilderness, we did some actual rock climbing to get down to the Arroyo Seco River. She really had a lot of fun climbing and it was a real boost to her confidence.

About Camping Blogger

Why did you start blogging?

I started blogging in 2006 when I changed jobs and moved my family to San Jose, California. We left a lot of friends and family behind in Oregon, so blogging became a way for us to stay connected with them. Over the next few years, it really started to take off and evolve from a personal blog into a camping blog for families, which evidently was a bit of an under-served niche. In October of 2008 I changed my domain to CampingBlogger to better reflect the direction that the blog had taken.If there is one thing I would hope readers would take away from this, I hope that it's a renewed focus on getting their family away from the TV, out of the house and into the great outdoors! Our kids need to experience nature in order to develop an appreciation for it. There's just no substitute for getting out there and experiencing it, first-hand.

Camping is a great way to expose your kids to nature, since there are so many things that can only be seen in the early morning, or just as the sun is going down. You can see a sea lion on TV a hundred times, but it pales in comparison to walking down to the beach at 6:00 in the morning and seeing one fishing in the surf for yourself.

That's the kind of life-long experiences that our children will pass on to their children someday.

Expert Advice on Family Camping Adventures