Parents who want a convenient and easy way to introduce the kids to nature, city slickers who have no idea how to build a fire and experienced campers looking for company may want to check out the family camping trips sponsored by various nature-oriented organizations.
Such outings typically include all meals, expert leaders and a full menu of activities, such as day hikes, evening star walks, nighttime storytelling, lessons in outdoor skills and slide shows. Campers meet at the site and need only bring their own tent, sleeping bag, clothing and personal items.
"These trips provide a gentle introduction to camping, so they are terrific for beginners," said Debbie Munsey, assistant curator of education for the Los Angeles Zoo, which offers about 10 camping trips a year.
Some upcoming family camp-outs:
* Zoo-sponsored trips are scheduled Aug. 5 to 7 at Montana de Oro State Park, just south of Morro Bay, and Sept. 3 to 5 at Sequoia National Forest, northeast of Bakersfield. Price for each three-day trip is $95 per adult, $65 for children 3 to 12. Children under 3 are free. Call (213) 666-4650, Ext. 269.
* The Wilderness Institute also sponsors family camping. The next camp will be July 16 to 18 at Mammoth Lakes, in the High Sierra. Price is $95 per adult, $55 per child age 2 to 12, or $255 for a family of four. Call (818) 991-7327.