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Tuesday, December 6, 2022

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Inexpensive Outdoor Family Excursions Near Fredericksburg

Camping is a great, inexpensive way to get tweens and teens to unplug from gaming and other time-consuming screen time devices and spend physical time with family and friends.

Don’t feel that you have to be adventurous to camp. While my husband and teen hike-in camp with all their gear in a rucksack backpack, I like my creature comforts while communing with nature. You’ll find me at a drive up, well-groomed campsite with my tent that assembles in minutes, an air mattress and a cooler full of my favorite camp food.  I proudly define myself as a “Gucci Camper” but still jump at any opportunity to camp with my boys and the rare occasion with my girlfriends (when we can carve out time away from our families).

Tent camping is an inexpensive way to get away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. My family likes to find campgrounds that offer amenities and recreational activities with a nature center, hiking trails, and water sports. Learn more about Virginia State Parks and fees (dcr.virginia.gov/state-parks/camping-fees).

Some campgrounds that we’ve found to be kid-friendly, pet-friendly and close to Fredericksburg are Caledon State Park, First Landing State Park, Lake Anna State Park, and Westmoreland State Park. As a Virginia resident, our family can camp for $25 for a standard campsite or individually hike-in for $15. We prefer state parks since their campsites are well maintained, have hot showers and toilets that flush, and are inexpensive to stay. There are 29 Virginia State Parks with more than 1,800 campsites with varying site sizes and amenities. Some parks have sites with electric and water hookups if you prefer staying in the comfort of a camper or RV.

Camping is a great opportunity to make family memories. I recently ran into a friend at the grocery store who was  picking up supplies to make s’mores per her young son’s request to camp in their backyard with his brothers and dad. So, whether you pack the car and go to a campground, or if you simply pitch a tent in your backyard, camping is an activity the whole family can enjoy.

If you ask my tween and teen what camping means to them, they’d say making grilled cheese and s’mores over a fire, staying up late telling campfire stories, and finding hiking trails using the All Trails app. (alltrails.com/)

Since finding my happy medium of being a “Gucci Camper,” I have come a long way from my 8-year-old self saying I’d never camp again after my first camping trip with my Brownie Troop. That camp experience left me with clothing soaked through from a tent that leaked all night and mosquito bites between my toes and in my ears! Being a mom of boys, I happily do all the outdoorsy things they love with a can of mosquito repellant at the ready, of course.

Nikki Ducas
Nikki Ducas
Nikki Ducas is a freelance writer and for the past 8+ years writes the money column for Fredericksburg Parent & Family Magazine. She has lived in Fredericksburg for 16 years with her husband and is a homeschooling mom to their two boys. Nikki enjoys hiking, knitting and her other side hustles of pet sitting and event management.

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