Don't forget the s'mores. Photograph by Priscilla Du Preez/Unsplash.

LEA REYNOLDS, THE NEW MEXICO native and mom behind the Wild Stoke blog, teaches her toddler leave-no-trace principles on camping trips in their Jeep. “As a kid, I didn’t realize how much there is to do in New Mexico,” she says. “Families can test the waters with a fun backyard camping experience.”  

Draw up a “packing” list. Essentials include a tent and sleeping bags, camp chairs, and a grill or stove. Bonus points for hanging lanterns and string lights. 

Bring toys, books, baby blankets, or stuffed animals. “Kids like what’s familiar, so try to have a little bit of home,” she says. Reynolds suggests nature books to guide explorations of bird species and other wildlife.  

Leave electronics behind. “Replace screen time with songs and books—old-school fun that add to the camping feel,” she says. Look toward the sky, and get cozy around a campfire. 

Don’t go indoors, even to cook. Reynolds recommends a simple menu of favorites. Her family likes to grill fresh chicharrónes. “And we never forget our s’mores.” 

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