Going camping in the 1950s

Taking the family camping trip was a right of passage for many American families in the 1950s. Plenty of kids remember their great times at campgrounds across the country. Do you have any memories of camping with your family?

Camping was famous, not just for scouts but as a recreational activity for families in the summer months. It was a getaway from checking in and out of hotels. Camping allowed families to be alone and enjoy the sights and sounds of nature.

Some families packed just about everything they could fit in their car trunks, but some packed only bare necessities like tents, cooking beans, and sleeping bags. The 1950s introduced ‘Camping in style’ with tents that were easy to set up.

Recreational vehicles, also known as ‘RVs,’ became very popular for hauling families around the country. Americans had to figure out how to eat while camping, so they brought portable camp stoves and coolers.

Many camping trips were at national parks, wilderness areas, or commercial campgrounds. ‘Family togetherness’ was sought by everyone, and camping became so popular national parks had trouble keeping up with the demand.

The pictures in this slideshow present families unpacking cars and setting up tents or standing outside of an RV. Every image has a whole family because it was a family activity.

There were a lot of self-made fires by tents, and there were people using camp stoves for cooking. There are pictures of women reading outside the RV and men carrying wood to build fires. The 1950s suburban dream extended to the family vacation at an ideal American campground.

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Going camping in the 1950s