Whether your reason for wanting to go camping is to save money or simply to get closer to Mother Nature, you have come to the right place. I written a number of articles to help your camping experience go more smoothly so that you can make positive memories of trips with your family and avoid the anguish and heartache that camping is sometimes made out to be.
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was an age of wonder, it was an age of suffering, it was an epoch of toasted marshmallows, it was an epoch of wet sleeping bags. If Charles Dickens’ had been a camper perhaps he would have written something along those lines. Camping can be both misery and joy, often at the same time. I’m going to assume that as a beginning camper that you are going to be camping at a “developed” camp site. This assumption leads to the belief that you will be able to park near your camping site and won’t have to carry things far and that you will have access to toilets and showers.
To begin with you will need supplies. This is easily accomplished as most major retailers sell camping equipment in their sporting goods section. The first rule for a newbie on buying tents is that manufacturers lie to you on the package. If the package states that the tent will sleep 4, plan on two sleeping in it. Dome tents are highly recommended for beginner campers, the familiar ‘pup’ tent is basically only for hikers or as a second tent for children. The primary advantage of dome tents is that you can stand up in them, or at least move enough to get dressed in privacy. Other needed items are battery powered flashlights and lantern, sleeping bags (actually blankets can work fine in summer), and air mattresses or sleeping bag pads. Practice preparing your camp in the back yard. Learning how to put up your tent and whether or not the air mattress leaks is information you need before planning you trip. See my Content Producer Page for more detailed information on selecting tents and their proper use.
Plan a menu that requires little to no cooking. For instance, Cereal or cereal bars for breakfast, sandwiches and chips for lunch, and hot dogs for dinner. Bring sticks to cook hot dogs on (you can also buy metal ones in the camping department) as most parks frown on you cutting your own. See my Content Producer Page for more detailed information on camp cooking.
Prepare for everything. The Boy Scout Motto is ‘Be Prepared’. Obviously these are folks that have been camping. I recommend that every new camper buys an old Boy Scout Handbook (Amazon, EBay, etc.). They are very simple and straight to the point and include a great checklist of things you will need. If you have any extra room in you car before leaving you haven’t brought all that you need!