What do you get when you mix a bunch of kids, a wide-open campground, and a little bit of dirt?
F.U.N. Especially when it’s camping.
Does your family go camping, whether in a tent, RV, or public use cabin?<—-cabins count in Alaska, since most cabins are in pretty remote places and are very similar to camping.
Ours took a shakedown trip to Eagle River Campground last weekend so we could get to know our new RV from Great Alaskan Holidays. It’s a big rig with lots of buttons, doors, and instructions, and we needed to figure out some of that important stuff in “real camping time.” We also just wanted to get out of town for a while (Do your parents ever say that? Mine did, and usually it meant we’d go camping.).
Eagle River Campground is one of those places we drive by often but never stay, mostly because it’s only 15 minutes from Anchorage and near to the Glenn Highway. This can work to a family’s advantage, however, especially on a weekday if you can convince your mom or dad to ditch work and hitch up for a overnighter close to home. In under an hour we were settled in camp, had the sliders out and the soda pop chilled, and got to work at having fun.
Here’s what we did, and you might want to take notes:
- The kids cooked. Nothing fancy, but that’s not the point. Most people your age can handle a knife to cut up carrots, cucumber, pickles, apples, and cheese. We roasted hot dogs and Italian sausages over the fire, too, and marshmallows. The big kids opened a bag of chips and viola! Dinner was done. Cooking in camp is a great way to learn new skills — and it doesn’t seem like work. <—- Got that, mom and dad?
- We played games. Not just any games, but a game of Jenga made out of 6 2.4s. It was a super fun twist on an old favorite, and as you can see, the adults took concentration to a new level. You can even paint your Jenga blocks any way you want for your own personal style.
- Kids explored nature and read stories. I sent all young people on a scavenger hunt for items to create their own nature-themed mobile (supplies included embroidery hoops for a frame, string/yarn, and the items on the list; leaves, grasses, pine cones, etc.). Then we read books about trees, kids, and forests while warming up by the fire, since the weather got a little chilly.
- The whole group relaxed. With Alaska’s daylight pushing 15 hours already, kids were up late. Really late. But a nice feature of an RV is the option of sending everyone inside (and oh, it started raining, too) for a showing of vintage western television shows followed by more reading. Nice and warm, it was the perfect way to wind up a busy outdoor day.
5. If you have a camping trip in Alaska planned, especially if you don’t live here and will be visiting with your family or friends, here are some other things you might want to bring or purchase when you arrive:
- Paper bags for collecting sticks, rocks, or leaves that you can use later for crafting. Be sure to leave plenty of things for others, including wildlife, bugs, and birds.
- Baseball, football, soccer ball, or volleyball. Don’t be afraid to pack sports equipment for an Alaska vacation, especially a camping trip. Taking breaks to toss a football or bump, set, and spike can be a great way to relax, and isn’t that what you’re here for, anyway?
- Decks of cards and travel games. We like the National Park version of UNO, Yatzee, and the game Rush Hour (there are several versions). Everything is compact and fits well in the RV.
- Scissors, glue sticks, markers or colored pencils, and a blank notebook. Oh, the fun you’ll have recording your thoughts and impressions with naturally-found items, photos, and drawings. Make it a daily effort by every family member and create amazing memories to share later.
- Maps. Do you know where you are? Or where you are going? Stop by a local outdoor store and get a map upon which you can trace your route, look up interesting landmarks, and maybe even convince your parents to diverge from the main road!
Above all, bring your best attitude for fun. Camping may feel strange at first, especially in a place like Alaska, but sometimes, feeling a bit out of place is the best way to get to know a place, in the first place. Get it?