You've pored over the camping checklists and packed all the necessities - but what about the fun? Here is my list to keep kids happy and active on the road and on the campground.
Bikes - If you bring no other activity you must bring bikes or scooters. I once saw kids "riding the loop" for over two hours. Make friends and ride the loop. Watch out for cars and don't forget the helmets!
Mad Libs - Great for the car ride and hanging at the site. Younger kids? Adults or older children can do the writing and reading.
Large, soft disc flyer - Frisbee is fun but getting hit in the nose by a plastic frisbee is not. Younger kids have a hard time with traditional frisbees but almost anyone can handle the big floppy flyers that are out now. Some models even fold up if you're short on space.
Track Ball - Easier and more fun than just plain catch. Family of four or more - buy extra rackets (and a few extra balls as they will get lost). Everyone loves that zip noise - it just screams camping. We also bring a soccer or kick ball as it's easy to start up a game with neighboring kids.
Cards & Games - An assortment of games is always good to have on hand - especially for rain and/or in the car. Some favorites: Blink, Uno, Jenga, Mancala and Rush Hour.
Art Supply Bag/Journal - Artist in the family? Pack a large ziplock with paper, small markers or crayons and scissors. A journal is also a great thing to pack for older kids - helps to keep that writing going in the summer!
Books - Always plan on a little tent time (rain or just a need to relax) - books are a great way to wind down. Pack some new and some old favorites. Trivia or informational books are good too - Guinness Book of World Records, Gross Facts or books about the nature and wildlife in the area where you will be camping.
Snacks - Make sure to pack lots of snacks - especially if you'll be hiking. There's nothing worse than a whiny kid on a beautiful hike. Low blood sugar = unhappy kid. Snacks are the answer. Pre-pack bags of trail mix, dried fruit, crackers, etc.
S'mores - Camping isn't camping without s'mores! Don't forget the sticks.
Now get out there!