Camping with kids

For Father's Day this year, my wife and girls surprised me with a family tent along with a plan to go camping next Saturday night. After much thought and discussion, we decided to do more research on tents and give consideration to a "trial run" of camping in the backyard before venturing out for a "real" night out under the stars.

Doing the research, I learned a lot. For one thing, only figure that 2/3 of the manufacturer's listed occupant capacity can comfortably sleep in the tent. So for a 6-person tent, 4 would fit comfortably. Another thing I learned is to seal all of the stitching, regardless of the manufacturer's claims of a tent's ability to stay waterproof. And camping technology has changed a lot since I last went camping as a Boy Scout. There are now tents that are wired for electricity, including the Eureka N!ERGY 1310, which has 3 12-volt outlets inside. And there are now two popular types of tent structures, the traditional dome and the newer cabin-style, which gives you more head-room.

We decided we wanted a tent that could comfortably sleep 5 and had a relatively high ceiling. After hours of time spent online reading reviews and checking out innumerable sites, we finally decided upon the Wenger Lugano 16- by 10-Foot Two-Room Eight-Person Family Tent with Canopy. It has a 4.5* rating after 23 customer reviews, and Amazon was running a special of $20 off, making this tent $100 with free shipping.

Others in the running were the Columbia Cougar Flats Six to Eight-Person Two-Room Cabin Tent for $249.97 which was rated at 4.5* with 75 customer reviews, and the Eureka Titan Luxury Family 13.5- by 9.5-Foot Eight-Person Two-Room Tent for $449.90 which was rated 4* with 4 customer reviews. Should we decide that camping really is for us and the tent we're buying doesn't meet our needs, we'll upgrade later.

Any advice on "gotta have" gadgets or camping with younger children?