Thursday, June 12, 2014

Camping for beginners


I was asked by Lauren @Lauren's Glass Slipper to write a post about camping for beginners.  I had to give it some thought because to me camping and spending time in the outdoors is second nature.  However, as I spoke to a few other individuals this past week at work, I realized that a lot of people have never been camping, and if they wanted to give it a try, they didn't know the first thing how to go about it.

So I decided to keep it super simple, after all enjoying the outdoors is supposed to be fun, and if I get too detailed then it will turn people away from it.  So for those of you who are seasoned outdoors men/women feel free to add your additional beginners tips in the comments.  For those who have never been camping, give it a try this summer!  If done correctly, you may just take up a new hobby.



PICK A TIME TO GO

Some people only go camping one night, and others like me enjoy it more when I can go 4-7 nights at a time. However if you are a beginner and this is your first time.  I'd suggest plan a time when you can go for at least 2 nights!
This is long enough to actually be able to enjoy it, but not too long you get tired of it.



DECIDE WHERE TO GO

Maybe you want to go camping in the mountains or possibly the beach?  Ask around, (don't ask people that only camp once a year) and get suggestions on places to go.
The reason I say avoid taking advice from individuals who only go camping once a year, they likely only go to the exact same place and love it because of memories and family time.  It might actually not be the best camping spot, especially if they go up in large groups.  So instead ask your friends/acquaintances who camp often and get suggestions on a few different places to help you make your decision.

When it's not raining I let the tarp extend in front of the tent, that way it keeps the dirt
from getting inside the tent as much.

TENT OR TRAILER

Some will tell you camping in a tent is the only "true" way to camp and that if you are in a trailer you aren't really camping.  Ignore them!  I've been camping my entire life, since I was a baby and have done both tent and trailer.
If you have access to a trailer go ahead and use it.  It won't make you any less of a camper, in fact it will make you feel a bit more refreshed as you may be able to take a shower after a day of hiking, fishing or playing in the outdoors.
If you don't have access to a trailer, tents are great too.   If you are purchasing a new one, pick out something simple.  You don't have to spend a fortune on a tent unless you want to.  Most tents can set up in 5 minutes or less, and can even be easily set up by one person. Those are the ones I would recommend.
If you are borrowing one from someone, set it up in your backyard before you go up.  Just so you understand how to do it and don't waist time and get all sweaty before you've even begun your trip.

It's okay for the kids to get dirty, they'll wash up:)


SETTING UP A TENT

1.  I highly recommend a tarp or ground cover to place under the tent.  This should be something that is just slightly smaller than the tent.  Or can be folded to be.  This will keep the tent dry in case of rain, and protect it.  (I used a thick tarp myself.)

2.  Most popular tents these days are dome tents.  A little tip, set them up first and the put the tent stakes in the ground.  Don't put the stakes in first.  If you stake it down first you risk the corners pulling too much and a wind could rip holes into it.  Stake it down after it's set up and you'll be able to make sure it's not too tight.

3.  I personally don't enjoy sleeping on the ground, I like a good night sleep.  I'd suggest bring an air mattress or a few for anyone sleeping in it.  Cotts or foam mattress's work too, they just take up a lot more packing space.

4.  In case of rain.  Make sure nothing is touching the sides of the tent.  Most tents are all waterproof unless you touch the sides while it is raining.  Then the rain is going to come in.  Don't let rain detour you from camping.  Nothing better than listening to the rain drop onto a tent at night while sleeping.  Sure rain is not so much fun during the day:)

5.  Keep the tent zipped when not entering or exiting.  Do you like to sleep with bugs?  Didn't think so, so keep it zipped, don't leave it open just because you don't think there are bugs around, because their are always bugs around:)

You don't have to have fires as big as ours:)  Make sure you only have a fire
as well as you can contain it:)  Some places may not allow them, check and follow forest
service signs around the area.


MEAL PLANNING

Personally, if this is your first time camping, I highly suggest keeping it super simple.  Sure you can go on Pinterest and find lots of creative camping foods.  But those creative things generally are going to take a lot of time, be a bigger mess and require you to bring lots more than you need.
If you camp all the time, have a trailer, do whatever you'd like.
But if this is your first time camping, keep it easy and simple for yourself.  Why lug more up than you have to?  Hot dogs, cold cereal, sandwiches and tin foil dinners are easy, require very few dishes and are quick to prepare.
However, I always say on the last morning of a camping trip there is nothing better than yummy pancakes and bacon, especially if at a high elevation.  Food tastes so much better at higher elevations anyway!
TIP - If you don't have your own hot dog sticks or roasting sticks, just use a branch you find near your campground.  Burn the tip before you but your food on it, and you've instantly sanitized it:)

Fishing with my dad - Yes I do own a pink fishing vest and hat and I love it!


FOOD IN THE WILD

Your in the outdoors you do need to make sure at night you put your food, coolers inside your vehicle for the night.  If you are backpacking and hiking in, you should hang your food from a tree (6 foot or higher) at least 200 yards from where you are going to be sleeping.
Chances of you seeing a bear are super slim, trust me I camp in bear country all of the time and it took me almost 25 years to see my first bear in the wild.
Just because you don't see bears it's best not to invite them into your camp by being a messy camper and leaving food around.
However, you are more likely to be visited by raccoons or skunks if you leave food in your camp too, which trust me you don't want them around either!

*This also means garbage, take your garbage to trash cans before bed, or lock it in your car.  Don't leave it out and don't leave it hanging from a tree near your camp.

It's always good to provide a little additional shade or protection from the rain, but
not a necessity:)


RELAX AND ENJOY

Personally, I am not a planner I don't have to plan every aspect of my trip and I enjoy just going with the flow, after all it is a vacation.
If you must plan, then do it.
But if not, then just relax and enjoy.  Pick well marked trails to hike on, if you enjoy hiking.  Take a fishing pole or kayak or raft and just enjoy your days as you please.  I even enjoy taking a book up and reading under shade trees.  However, if you are bringing kids, it doesn't hurt to have a few games and stuff around to keep them occupied when they are not running around.



A FEW LAST TIPS

 * If you are camping in a national forest in a campground that you are paying for.  There is likely going to be a camp host around.  If you have any problems, it makes it easy to take them up with them.  (For instance if you have loud or rude campers near you.  Let them be their problem and they'll take care of it or kick them out.
However, if you are camping in unmarked campgrounds or just in the back country, you are on your own and their are higher chances of camping next to loud, rude or drunks and there is nothing you can really do about it if you are outside a campground.

*  Don't be a car stereo camper!  I absolutely dislike these people.  I go into the outdoors to get away from lard car stereos and booming base!  If you absolutely need your music, keep your headphones on, don't ruin other peoples experiences by being rude!
On that same note, don't be a loud drunk!  Respect quite hours before 8am and after 10pm.  You can still be up, but make sure you are being respectful of others who may be trying to sleep or have small children.  Remember sound travels further and louder at night especially when it is cooler.

*  Carry plenty of water with you when you go hiking, even if you don't think you need it.

*  Baby wipes are not just for babies, they are great to bring for anyone to clean up with!

*  If you are unfamiliar of an area, don't wander off trails unless you are sure of your surroundings.

*  Don't forget flashlights & batteries, matches, garbage bags, toilet paper and of course the marshmallows:)


If you have never been camping before, I hope you'll give it a try sometime.  If it's not your thing, then there is always a hotel or a cruise, although you'll be missing out!
Hope my beginner tips will help some of you out sometime!  HAVE FUN!!!
I'm sure I am forgetting some simple tips for first time campers, so if you have more feel free to share!






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