Any journey begins with the first step. So you’ve decided to give camping a try. Your channeling your inner Survivorman; it’s time to disconnect from the the hustle of life and get back to nature. So now what?
Every experienced camper has been exactly where you are. Figuring out what to do next, where to start, where to go, what do I bring. And every experienced camper has their horror story that goes along with their first trip. Mine is no different. Our first family camping trip was with our boy scout pack. We forgot to pack lanterns, we didn’t know how to put up our tent, and we misjudged how cold the spring night could actually be once you go to bed; We survived!
Let’s be real, you can’t be prepared for every mishap or oops that could happen in camp. Even a boy scout learns to improvise. (I should know, I have a Life Scout) Being as prepared as possible will insure that you have a great, relaxing, unwinding time.
So where do we start. GEAR! You can’t get back to nature without the correct equipment. And as easy as it is to pack to much stuff it’s just as easy to not pack enough…..Refer to my first camping trip. The best advice I was ever given is “Don’t over think it” Your not moving into the woods, your just going for a few days. Do we really need the kitchen sink? Let’s take a look at the basics.
Start with your sleeping arrangements. If your just dipping the toes in, many state parks have a first time campers program. All the gear comes from REI and Coleman and the rangers are there to help ya set up and answer any questions; they even give you an emergency number if you have problems after hours. Check with you local state park for more information.
If your ready to jump in, it’s time to buy a tent. As with any investment do your research. Ask the questions, how many people, how many seasons, ease to put together. Go to REI or Cabelas and talk with a specialist. This is a investment that should last many seasons. The last thing you want is to spring a leak during a rain storm.
So now you have your tent. What are we going to sleep on? Are you going to really rough it and sleep on a mat and sleeping bag or invest in a air mattress? When we go family camping were usually out four or more days. I don’t know about you but my back couldn’t handle sleeping on a mat for that long. Camping air mattress are pretty inexpensive, so if your going to spend a good amount of time camping…..invest!
The internet (Pinterest) is full of camping recipes. Keep it simple. After all your out to relax. If you have to have your flap-jacks and coffee in the morning, a camping stove is the way to go. Personally, especially with kids, I prefer to have a camping stove. The more adventurous will cook over an open fire or use a dutch oven. My family has a tradition that we kick off the first night with hot doges over an open fire, followed by a healthy dose of s’mores. But either way it boils down to personal choice, you can find hundreds of recipes for both.
Let’s recap…..Tent-check, sleeping arrangement-check, food-check. One last must have for camping is a lantern. We learned the hard way, on our first camping trip, that we can’t see in the dark. Trying to change your clothes in a dark tent will dismay even the most experienced of campers. A battery powered lantern will be your biggest asset. A head lamp is a great alternative to a lantern. Light weight and easy to pack they’re a must have especially if you have to make a trip to the bath house in the middle of the night.
Don’t let the gear overwhelm you. Most of the things you’ll bring are common sense items. Don’t over think it. The most important thing is to have fun and to get unplugged. Sitting around the camp fire cooking s’more and telling ghost stories are the memories that will be told about for years. Relax and enjoy the serenity and the quiet that only Mother Nature can provide.
For the more experienced campers, what are your must have for camping? …….Happy Camping!