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Camping with Kids

A 6-day family of four vacation for under $1000
offers up new experiences and plenty
of bonding opportunities

For those wondering how to afford a family vacation this year, stop. A camping trip will set the stage for quality family time and provide abundant recreational opportunities without breaking the budget. It can keep your family of four away from home for six days of vacationing - all for under $1000.

Commercially owned RV parks, RV resorts and campgrounds make great family destinations. And the average nightly site fee ranges $20-$30, significantly less than an overnight stay in a motel.

Most parks have lakes for fishing, boating and swimming, playground facilities, hiking trails, basketball courts and other amenities. And many also offer planned activities, like nature crafts, ice cream socials and free movies for children and families. Bring along your own balls and gloves, bikes and board games for a jam-packed experience. When camping, there's plenty of time for the family to play together, then unwind while enjoying the sunset, then watching for shooting stars.

Camping doesn't mean roughing it. Basic campsites feature a fire-pit, grill, and picnic table as well as general bathroom and shower facilities. However, many commercial parks offer much more than these basic amenities, including heated swimming pools, high-speed wireless Internet access, RV sites with cable TV. Then there are cabins, RV rentals, cottages and lodges to stay in, aside from a pitched tent. Granted, there is some work to camping, but it's a fun way to involve the kids in routine chores.

The Bottom Line: An enriching family camping vacation for four can be had for under $1000 -- figuring a $600 one-time cost to buy new gear (family tent, sleeping bags, camp stove, cooler), less than $200 for the week's campground fees and $200 for groceries/ice and gas. And, once the gear's been bought, each subsequent camping trip will cost even less. (Alternatively, cabin and RV site rentals can range from $30 for bare bones, on up to over $100 night and are a good way to test the camping waters before investing in gear.). For an economical, adventurous, safe, bond-strengthening and memory-filled vacation, take your family camping, you won't be alone. According to a recent National Association of RV Parks & Campgrounds (ARVC) study:

o Over the last two years, nearly 70% of adult active campers took at least one vacation with their family -- that's over 20 million U.S. residents.

o 50% of active campers and RV owners have taken trips with extended family, including children.

o Six in ten RV owners report being grandparents, with more than half traveling with their grandchildren during the past two years.

o 79% of active campers utilized a "family-oriented" campground during the last 12 months.

ARVC is the national association representing over 3900 RV parks and campgrounds throughout the United States and Canada. The association is headquartered in Falls Church, Va. More information about the association can be found at www.ARVC.org. Additional information about the association's member parks, an online directory of parks and other camping services, and general information for camping consumers can be found at www.gocampingamerica.com. Additional information about RVs and RVing can be found at www.gorving.com.

(Source: ARVC)

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