Kelty June 15, 2020

Unless we’re talking specifically about Chuck E. Cheese establishments, the phrase “closed until further notice” is not typically something that parents want to hear—particularly with summer’s hot breath on the backs of our necks. We’ve all fought the good fight through this year’s bizarro spring, our offspring surviving on a steady diet of Pop-Tarts and Minecraft while we watched ourselves age, horribly, through the heartless lens of the laptop camera. 

So, now that some parts of the world are starting to open back up again, stir-crazy families everywhere are wondering the same things: where can we go, and when? According to the National Park Service, more than 150 of the 419 parks under their governance are, in fact, closed to visitors—which makes camping with kids this summer just a little more difficult.

But your friends here at Kelty continue to be glass-half-full kinda folks. So here are our expert tips for making the most of the 269 national parks (along with countless state and private facilities) that ARE open. Here’s how to navigate the whole process…and what to bring. 

1. Get the Dyrt. Thanks to COVID-19’s unprecedented global impact, there’s no central place to get information on…well, anything. That’s why we’re so grateful to our buds at the Dyrt for compiling a fairly comprehensive listing of U.S. park and campground status. We’d recommend starting there—they’ll continue to update the list as more places open up.

GEAR TIP: Regardless of what kind of trails your family campsite has—if your kids are still portable, you’ll definitely need our PerfectFit kid carrier to cart them around. Trust us. 

2. Get Creative. If the state and national parks you were planning to visit are still closed, this might be the time to give Hipcamp a go! This handy all-in-one resource for public parks gives you access to 300,000+ amazing escapes on private land. Likewise, Glamping Hub has curated an appealing collection of more than 31,000 trailers, safari tents, cabins, tipis, yurts and more. Both companies have set special safety and sanitation policies for the post-COVID world—and with travel down significantly worldwide, everyone’s trying a little harder.

GEAR TIP: Teeny-tiny campers will feel more secure with you, in YOUR bag, so we recommend our Tru.Comfort Doublewide to give you a bit of relief from nighttime elbows. 

3. Camp Safe. This summer, you’ll need to keep a safe distance from both people AND animals—like I said, things are super weird! But before you head out on your family camping trip this year, it’s important to have a serious animal safety chat with your kiddos.

After all, it’s one thing to chuckle to yourself as you scroll past countless pics of cougars in lounge chairs—not that kind of cougar, you perv! But it’s another thing entirely to encounter a grizzly and her cubs with your own cubs in tow. Basic wildlife safety is a must for all.

GEAR TIP: Our genius GYST System enables you to efficiently pack, unload and reload an entire campsite’s worth of stuff—especially all the extra stuff that camping with kids demands! It also makes it easier to quickly tuck away anything that might smell tasty. One caveat: if you’re camping in an area where bears are common, you’ll need to check this out

4. Lighten Up. Nope, this isn’t gonna be a lecture about your backpack—we’ll go there next month, so stop on by later for those tips. Today, we’d like to invite you to fully embrace just how completely cancelled rules are right now…and maybe, just maybe, to consider that this might be a good thing. 

Whatever kind of family camping trip you had planned for this summer, the one you’re about to have is probably going to be…not that. And you know what? IT’S FINE. YOU’RE FINE. Kids can literally have fun playing in the gutter, and it’s one of the things we love most about them! So continue to flex those “plan B” muscles you’ve been working on all spring. 

We can virtually guarantee that ANY kind of family camping trip will provide a welcome change from whatever level of quarantine you’ve been under. So get out there, fam.

GEAR TIP: Couldn’t get a reservation anywhere? Pitch our spacious Sequoia Tent in the backyard and call it a day—once the s’mores fixins come out, all’s well that ends well. 

For more #builtforplay fun, follow @keltybuilt on Facebook and Instagram.