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First of all, I need to remember to relax and breathe. Red has joined cub scouts and is ALL ABOUT his pack. Since we are so new to the activities in cub scouts, we haven’t gone on any field trips or started to camp, but we’re getting ready! A few camping trips are coming up and I can’t tell you how UNprepared we are. I have a tent and a water bottle. That’s it! Most of the camping stuff I used when I was a teen belonged to my brother who attained the rank of Eagle when he was 18. Here I am years later with nary a camping spoon to my name, so I need to review my camping basics!!
Camping for the first time (or for me, again after many years) should not increase your stress level! Common sense goes a long way when you are about to take your first trip out into nature, so pack wisely. Follow these tips on camping basics and you’ll do just fine. You might even find that you absolutely love it and want to continue camping all season long… or in my case, Red may enjoy it so much that I need to pull my bootstraps and get with the program!
Camping Basics: Destinations
Do you want to camp on the beach and watch the surf roll in, or do you want to be deep in the forest under a canopy of stars and trees like you’ve never seen before? Determine how far away from home you want to travel. For a quick weekend camping trip, try staying about four hours away from home. That way you aren’t spending all of your time just getting there. Camping in National Parks is an absolute treasure, but you will need to reserve a camping spot in advance at the more popular places like Yosemite, Glacier, or Yellowstone. Every campsite has no shows so if you don’t reserve a spot, be there in line by 4 pm. That way you are first on the list to snag a spot.
Camping Basics: Packing List
Depending on if you are headed to the beach, on a polar bear camping trip, or a hot summer Georgia trip, your packing list will vary. Ask your Scoutmaster for a packing list that the scout troop follows and add everything to your to-do list. At the least, you’ll want a
- multi-person tent
- mess kit
- sleeping bag
- sleep pad
- camping chair
- water bottle
- trail mix
- waterproof hiking boots
- First Aid Kit
How to Set Up Your Campsite
There is no shame in watching a YouTube video on how to set up your tent (I’ve learned plenty from YouTube!). You can also practice putting it up in your backyard or in your living room. Bring a mallet to pound in the stakes and a small dustpan to sweep out the dirt – trust me on this. Don’t forget a liner to put down underneath the tent. You can buy a large ground tarp for about $30-45 or you can pick up a $3 shower curtain and use that too. Once the liner is down then erect your tent on top. Set up your air mattress or pad and add your sleeping bag, lantern, heat warmers, and water bottle. Don’t forget to put the rain guard on as it always seems to rain when you think you don’t need it.
Once your tent is up a safe distance away from the fire, time to set up the rest of the campsite. Pull out your camp chairs and place around the fire ring. Wipe down the picnic table or place a plastic tablecloth on the top of it. Pack one gallon of water per person per day for your camping trip, or be sure that your campsite offers utilities or a bathhouse. A 5-gallon plastic jug with a spigot is perfect to place on top of the picnic table. Use it to fill your water bottle, pots for cooking, and to clean up with.
Most camping spots won’t allow you to bring firewood from home, so instead, you can purchase wood from the camp host and set up your fire. Pro tip… if you have no idea how to set up a fire, bring a fatwood or quick start fire log from home. Add the campsite firewood on top of it. Light the fire log and voila! You have a fire!
More Tips for a Fun Camping Trip
- Realize you are not alone and if you have questions or need something, ask your camping neighbor or pack leader. People really are friendly and happy to lend a helping hand.
- More than likely you will not have cell service and WiFi will not be available.
- Try to prep your loved ones at home with a destination, arrival and departure date as well as the contact information for your nearest Ranger outpost.
- Go on a hike, enjoy the sights and sounds that nature provides and leave worry behind.
- Bring bug spray and sunscreen liberally.
- Enjoy your time outside and breathe in the peace and quiet of the great outdoors.
- Find a recommended camping packing list and follow it diligently, based on your destination.
- Go shopping early for your camping basics so you can add to your collection as your camping trips increase.