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Responsible camping - Travel

Many of us are still in the gloom of winter, but spring is coming, and it is a great time to start planning that family camping trip! Not only is camping an inexpensive family vacation, but it can also be the perfect opportunity to teach some important lessons about the environment. The fragility of our ecosystem and our responsibility to Mother Earth make for an important learning experience. Being in nature makes it very relevant to teach about awareness, mindfulness, and compassion toward the world and all of its creatures. Education is key and it must start and end with us.

Graffiti, Soda Cans, and Cigarette Butts are a Nuisance to Nature.

Here are some ways to be an eco-friendly camper:

* Pick up all your trash and even some left behind by previous campers. Leave the site in better condition than you found it. Make it a rule to practice a "pack out" environment.

* Use existing campsites to prevent impacting new areas.

* Be cautious when walking around to avoid destroying the fragile ecosystems, which include seedlings, wildlife and wildflowers.

* For human waste, bring a shovel, dig holes 8" deep, and carry out all toilet paper. Do not bury paper; animals will just dig it up.

* Build campfires in designated rings ONLY!

* Gather wood for fuel, and use only fallen wood.

* Never burn plastics or other toxic materials in campfires.

* Pack out dirty diapers!!!

* Teach your children not to litter or deface nature.

* Obey signs and instruct kids on dangers of the wilderness.

* Know the regulations and special concerns for the area that you'll visit.

Take Delicious, Simple Vegetarian Foods with You.

The following are some meal and snack suggestions, all of which are made by companies dedicated to producing non-gmo foods, which means that they are free of genetically modified organisms.

For Breakfast:

* Cereals (Barbara's, EnviroKidz, Nature's Path)

* Granola (bag your own at your favorite heath food store)

* Breakfast Bars (Health Valley, New England Natural Bakers)


* Energy Bars (Balance, Luna, Clif, Odwalla)

* Chips (Terra Chips, Kettle Tortilla Chips, Kettle Blue Corn Chips)

* Popcorn/Rice Cakes (Lundberg Family Farms, New Organics)

* Pretzels (Newman's Own, New Organics, Hain)

* Trail Mix (again, mix your own favorite blends of dried fruits, nuts etc.)

Dairy Alternatives: (may need to be kept cold in a cooler)

* EdenSoy (Rice and Soy Blend)

* Grainaissance Amazake Rice Drinks (Gimme Green, Amazake Pudding)

* White Wave (Soy Milk and Yogurts)

* Imagine Foods (Raspberry, Vanilla Chocolate Power Dream Energy Drinks)

Meat Alternatives; (most should be packed in an ice chest, then grilled over a safe campfire)

* Amy's Kitchen (Veggie Burgers)

* SunRich Hearty and Natural (Veggie and Grain Burgers, Veggie Chik-N)

* Mori-Nu (Silken Tofu)--needs no refrigeration until opened!)

* Yves Veggie Cuisine (deli slices, tofu dogs, mock salami/pepperoni)

* Lightlife (tempeh burgers, Smart Dogs, Gimme Lean Sausage)

Another delicious camping staple is good old-fashioned peanut butter! Rolled in tortillas, slathered into pita pockets, or dipped with crackers are some easy, tasty ways to serve it. Many health food stores carry natural peanut butter in plastic tubs rather than glass jars for easier packing.

Health food stores are also a place to find cans of mixed beans (for simple salads and chili), instant soups and oatmeal, ready-to-heat-and-serve soups, and kid-friendly pasta meals. Simple grains (like couscous) and TVP (texturized vegetable protein) make for easy meals by just adding boiling water.

Don't forget the sunscreen and bug spray - natural and cruelty-free, of course!

Here are some good websites to lire up your imagination about where to go, and give you good camping tips, too:


A comprehensive site listing campsites in states throughout the USA.


A somewhat "commercialized" site, but does have some good articles and trip suggestions including articles on the "Top Ten Family Vacations in the National Parks," "Raising Adventurous Kids," "Driving with Kids," and "Packing Lists."


The Sierra Club offers many trips throughout the world, and has a category especially for families. Some of the trips have age minimums, but many are designed as multi-generational trips! Since their motto is "explore, enjoy, and protect the planet," you can be sure the trips are geared toward environmental education and an appreciation of the land. You must be a member of the Sierra Club to participate.


Lots of camping "how-to" tips, over 100 camping recipes (many are meat-based, but there is also a vegetable section), a "question and answer" board, and suggestions for popular and helpful family camping books.

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