Phoenix With Kids

Explore the Outdoors with the Arizona Family Campout Program

I love the idea of camping and dream of being that family that ventures out to remote Arizona landscapes and camps.. and somehow stay alive… but we aren’t quite there yet! One weekend last October when we were able to participate in the Arizona Family Campout Program, I saw a side of my children that I didn’t know existed and we realized that we could be that awesome camping family- we just need some practice and a great way to learn is with the AZ Family Campout Program!

Lindsay Lutes

Explore the Outdoors with the Arizona Family Campout Program. I love the idea of camping and dream of being that family that ventures out to remote Arizona landscapes and camps.. and somehow stay alive… but we aren’t quite there yet!

My kids still scream at the sight of bugs or complain if we are away from devices for more than a few hours… except, one weekend last October when we were able to participate in the Arizona Family Campout Program, I saw a side of my children that I didn’t know existed and we realized that we could be that awesome camping family- we just need some practice and a great way to learn is with the AZ Family Campout Program!

What is the Arizona Family Campout Program?

The Arizona Family Campout Program is an initiative by Arizona State Parks & Trails that offers weekend camping experiences for families at various state parks throughout Arizona. It’s tailored for families who have limited camping experience, providing them with a unique opportunity to learn the basics of camping, hiking, wildlife viewing, and more in a fun, safe, and supportive environment.

We signed up for Lake Havasu in October of last year and at first we had no idea what to expect. Luckily, we received a very helpful packet of information explaining exactly what to pack and what we would be doing. The program provides a tent (or cabin if you are lucky like we were), camping stoves, fresh water, light snacks, camping chairs, and all recreational activities. We would need to provide our own food (two lunches, one dinner, and on breakfast) and appropriate gear for our state park location.

We started the day off by getting to know Ranger Louis and the amazing team of volunteers who run this program. We learned how to set up a tent and how to stay safe in the AZ outdoors. We then got to take the kayaks out and enjoy the beautiful water of Lake Havasu! In the afternoon, the kids could play with the recreational games set up, and eventually we went and learn some archery skills. And even though the activities are geared toward the kids, adults are invited to join in the fun as well.

Each family got their cooking stove and got to make a sunset family dinner together. Afterwards we rejoined the group for campfire skills, smore making and storytelling! The kids then joined Ranger Louis for a scorpion hunt! We were lucky to have a cabin to sleep in for the night (I swear we will get comfortable with tents) and we all slept like rocks!

The next morning was breakfast, more games, geocaching/hiking/wildlife viewing, an educational project, and then the kids were sworn in as Junior Rangers. We all ate lunch and then packed our gear up to head back home- with a wealth of knowledge of the outdoors.

It may sound like a short trip, but my kids couldn’t stop talking about what they learned- and what they accomplished in those two days was amazing! Both of my kids grew out of their fear of kayaking (and swam in a LAKE.. which would have grossed them out before), they were both successful in archery, they loved tending to a campfire, and they progressed a tiny bit in their tolerance toward bugs.

But really- Ranger Louis and the volunteer team made a huge impact on them- and they learned skills that they still talk about- including snake safety, hiking etiquette, and other outdoor safety tips. The passion that this team shows is real and this program is an amazing introduction to the beauty of the our Arizona State Parks!

The Family Campout Program runs during the spring and fall, aligning with the best weather conditions for camping in Arizona. Interested families can visit the official Arizona State Parks & Trails website for the program on their website.

The cost is $90 for a family of four (children have to be 6 or older) and it is $5 per additional child. The spring line up looks like a blast and pre-registration is open NOW! Spaces are limited and fill up quickly, so as families register, they will be contacted to move into a secured spot, which is when payment is taken. Families are limited to one event per season.

Spring Dates – PRE-REGISTER NOW

March 9-10, 2024 – Alamo Lake State Park, Wendon

March 16-17, 2024 – Catalina State Park, Tucson

April 6-7, 2024 – Patagonia Lake State Park, Patagonia

April 13-14, 2024 – Fool Hollow Lake Recreation Area, Show Low

April 27-28, 2024 – Red Rock State Park, Sedona

May 11-12, 2024 – River Island State Park, Parker

May 18-19, 2024 – Dead Horse Ranch State Park, Cottonwood – SOLD OUT

June 8-9, 2024 – Lyman Lake State Park, St. John’s

You won’t regret signing your family up for this amazing experience!

We can’t wait to join Ranger Louis again for another weekend of Arizona fun!!

  • Lindsay Lutes

    Lindsay is a Mesa, AZ native and mom of two! Lindsay loves hiking, traveling, staycations, cats, coffee, and Disney! Her goal is for her kids to have a fun-filled childhood that they will cherish throughout their lives! She works full time as a nurse and her husband is a teacher, so they try to fill school breaks and weekends with a lot of family fun!

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