Family Camping is a great way to unplug and enjoy spending time outdoors. However, for the first time camper, it can be intimidating. First there’s the gear which can get expensive if purchased all at once. Then who wants to stubble with tent set-up as the kids watch. Here’s how to look like an old pro.
The Georgia State Parks has taken away the hassle for novice campers through the First Time Camper program. The program includes two nights stay at select state parks, camping gear from REI and a park ranger to help get you moving in the right direction. Gear includes:
- a six person tent
- two chairs
- four self-inflating sleeping mats
- a camp stove
- marshmallow roasting sticks (it’s BYOM though – bring your own marshmallows)
If you aren’t sure the right park for your family, below is a list of Georgia State Parks that have the First Time Camper program and a little background information to help you choose the right one for your crew.
- James H. Floyd State Park (Near Rome) — Best for Atlanta families with smaller children. Feed fish and ducks from the boardwalk across the lake. Easy lake loop trail. Playground and swings near lake. Another playground near the campsites.
- Fort Yargo State Park (Winder) – Best for active types and older kids. Mountain bike trails, disc golf, sand swimming beach at the lake, fishing and hiking. Near Athens. Restaurants just outside the park.
- Skidaway Island State Park (Savannah) – Good excuse to visit Savannah cheaply. 25-minute drive to River Street, but you won’t want to leave the park. Walking and biking trails through live oaks and Spanish moss leading to a salt marsh with birding tower. Look for fiddler crabs at low tide. Good ranger programs for kids. Giant ground sloth fossil replica, tiny baby alligator, snakes and turtles in the nature center.
- Victoria Bryant State Park(Near Lavonia) – Good for smaller kids or golfers. Children cool off in the rocky creek during summer. Playground and shaded nature trails. 18-hole golf course. Close to I-85.
- Reed Bingham State Park(Adel) – Pretty park off I-75 in south Ga. Easy paddling on a lake with lily pads, bald eagles and alligators. Kayak and canoe rental. Sandy swimming beach, mini golf and playground. (Alligators are afraid of people and do not bother you as long as you don’t bother them. Most slip away unseen. They don’t come into the swimming area.)
- A.H. Stephens State Park (Crawfordville) – Off I-20 near Augusta. Read, relax and toast marshmallows at your campsite. Park is known for horse trails (but no rentals). Civil War museum.
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