Calling All Campers!


A pivotal decision made.

Gear purchased.

Now we’re only waiting on the temperatures to rise.

We are entering uncharted waters for our little family.

We are going camping.

Over the weekend, I visited my aunt, camper extraordinaire, to ask questions and gather wisdom. She offered me her coveted notebook of lists for camping trips.

“Hose pipe? Why would we need to bring a hose?” I asked.

“Well, all campsites have a water hook-up, but we found that it’s good to have a hose so that you can direct that water where you want it to go. You may need to put out a fire. You just never know,” she answered. “And put a nozzle on it,” she added.

“Stool for tent?”

“Ah, it just gets tiring getting up and down from the ground.”

A couple of other items gave me pause, like astro turf, but I decided not to ask how she learned all these things.

“Camping is hard work but we always had the best time together,” she mused.

Sanguine and excited describe me well. I have such fond memories of camping trips with my family. I do recall feeling impatient for the tent to be up. I remember riding our bikes through the parks. I remember play grounds and meeting other kids who were camping with their families. I remember hiking and exploring all things natural. I remember swimming on sandy lake beaches. I remember waking to birds’ songs. I remember the smell of early morning and the mist hanging above the ground. I remember camp fires. I remember the cacophony of tree frogs and crickets in the evenings. Ah, I can’t wait.

I don’t remember any work.

Our maiden voyage will probably be this weekend. The plan is to get our feet wet (I hope it doesn’t rain!) at the nearest Alabama State Park, which is about 15 minutes from our house.

That is why I need tips and advice from seasoned campers, especially campers with kids. Lay it on me: what to do, what not to do, don’t forget, etc.

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9 thoughts on “Calling All Campers!

  1. I have a what not to do: Don’t try to keep the kids clean or even cleanish. Once you let that one go, camping is a lot more fun, both for you and the kids.

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  2. AWESOME!! Yall will have so much fun. I loved camping as a kid. The willow flies will be hatching soon and that’s always a great time for fishing if your kids are interested in that. Use them as bait.My best advice- invest in an air mattress and save your back. :o)Make sure your tent is in a spot that won’t be a mud puddle if a sudden thunderstorm rolls in. And this may be TMI, but we always took a small bucket and some TP so that we wouldn’t have to trek all the way to the bathhouse to use the restroom. Sometimes that’s a long walk!We have a nice grassy area near our cabin and boathouse at Lake Mitchell that would be a good spot for a tent if you’re ever interested. You are welcome anytime. It’s not a “campsite” but it would work. The kids could stay in the tent and yall could sleep in a king size bed in the cabin! hehehe That might be cheating a bit, though.

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  3. There’s no way my hubs would camp without a good air mattress, so we have one of those. Good idea — the bucket and TP. The last time I remember camping with my mom and brother, she went out during the night to relieve herself in the woods and got bit by a brown recluse spider. She remembered the bite but had no idea what it was that bit her until some time later when the necrotic spot started growing on her leg. Thanks for the invite to your cabin!!

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  4. I imagine the astro turf was for the outside of the tent. We use a mat or a towel. We let the kids get as dirty as they want out side the tent, but the rule is no shoes in the tent. We take a small plastic wash tub for dishes, and fill it with water before bed. Everyone grabs a washcloth and wipes their feet outside the tent. It’s nice to sleep with clean feet.Food: To make dinner less work, make up a favorite chili before you leave (or fish in a packet, etc) then all you have to do at the campsite is heat it up. Cooking at a campsite is fun, but it does take more time and effort. We try to store dry goods in a rubbermaid tub with a lid.We always bring our favorite board game or cards for night time and don’t forget the smores!

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  5. We went camping for the first time in September. Loved it! Advice from a newbie: keep it simple. I got free tents from freecycle (and a dead cat to boot… http://dunhams.typepad.com/halfpinthouse/2008/09/the-price-of-free.html )We decided to “invest” in one new thing each trip. First time it was a lantern. On that trip we wished we had camping chairs. Oh, how we wished we’d had camping chairs! I got some nice ones on clearance from REI. After we go a second time I’ll get one more thing we wished we’d had on that trip, etc.It was fun. Hope you have a great time!

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  6. We are not seasoned and haven't been in a long time but we are definitely planning a trip soon ;)I love your aunt's notebook! Too funny and the astro turf just does not even surprise me … actually nothing does. People are so funny about the necessities. When we camped more often I made up a couple of storage tubs with our "necessities" and kept a running list which I added to each time we went. Funny the things that each family finds "necessary"!I like to have a little broom and dustpan. I keep house everywhere I go ;)I am a fan of cots over air mattresses. That said, we didn't have that many cots back then and only recently started our collection. I like cots because we are off the ground. That can be positive for many reasons and I won't list them here so you won't start twitching with anxiety ;)I agree with Christina about the chili. I also have some great Paula Deen camping recipes. I'll get them out and forward them to you 😉 Fun & easy stuff that you grew up with.I like the Palmolive soap rags that are preloaded with detergent. Perfect for washing and even if you think everything is disposable it is inevitable that you will need to wash something.Wipes! More Wipes! Non-stick spray. It helps with all kinds of cooking and even with foil covered items.I would love to see your aunt's list! If I think of more I'll let you know.

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  7. Ahhhh camping! DH and I started camping together while he was in Seminary–we needed to get away from the concrete (Dallas) and immerse ourselves in God’s creation!The astro turf makes sense, we keep a door mat right outside our tent so we don’t track dust and little pebbles into the tent–dirty, and potentially damaging to the tent floor.I also take along a small broom and dust pan–the small compact kind that fit together.Cooking ahead is a GREAT plan! I prepare sloppy joes and freeze the meat. Not only will the frozen mixture help cool other things in the ice chest, it should be mostly thawed by time to eat it during the camping trip.Pancakes for breakfast work well–get the mix in a jug and just add water. Some bacon or sausage is always nice.Sandwiches for lunch on or off the hiking trail!Lots of wet wipes–some for general clean up and some for personal hygiene.And what camping trip would be complete without fixings for smores!? :-)Check out the recipes on the KOA website–some can be prepared in foil pouches cooked over an open fire. Might also check out the Reynolds Wrap website for more recipes like that.And, by all means start your very one running list(s) of things–we add and adjust ours pretty much every trip.Enjoy!!!

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  8. I think I’ve camped twice when my parents went through (an apparently short lived) camping obsession. We tent camped; I was in 8th/9th grade; and it was two of the worst experiences of my life.On the other hand, I know my boys would love it. Actually, we’ve always said it’s something we would love to do as a family but we (my husband and I) are both such city folk we have no idea what to do or where to begin! All that to say, I’ll be watching and learning from you and these great tips already posted!

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