There are always going to be variables you can’t control when camping, like mosquitoes and weather. However, there are steps you can take to help improve the odds that everybody will have a great time.

Practice camping at home.

Make a test run in your backyard (or even your living room). This will give you an opportunity to learn how to set up your tent, which can be tricky the first time, and “break in” your sleeping bags.

Let your kids help plan the menu.

Forget about fancy meals when camping; simple fare like hot dogs, hamburgers, and chicken — anything that can be cooked over an open flame — is best. Don’t forget to pack snacks like chips and fruit, and plenty of beverages like bottled water and juice. No camping trip is complete without marshmallows, graham crackers, and chocolate!

Pack games you can play as a family.

Popular choices include cornhole, ladder golf, horseshoes, badminton, cards, dominos, and board games like Scrabble, Monopoly, and Life. Bring along balloons for a water balloon fight. You can even keep it simple and opt for games like charades or duck, duck, goose.

Don’t forget the fuel.

There is nothing more frustrating than being unable to get a fire going; after all, that’s one of the best things about camping! Help preserve your dignity by picking up a firestarter just in case. Organic resin wood products, lighter cubes, magnesium flint, and kindling are all excellent choices.

Pack it in, pack it out.

One thing people often forget about before going camping is how to deal with trash. Prepare in advance by removing as much packaging as you can before leaving home, such as food wrappers and tags from newly purchased gear. Place food in freezer and Ziploc bags or plastic containers, and bring along plenty of trash bags. Be sure to haul those off to a garbage can or dumpster before going to bed to avoid attracting hungry critters. If there aren’t any trash receptacles available, tie your garbage bag to a tree.

Is your family just getting started camping? Check out our list of Gear Must Haves here.