When I say the words “Tent Camping” what are your immediate thoughts? Probably things like, “What a cheapo!” or “Oh no! I see a bear!” or “Omigah, there are bugs in my sleeping bag, eww!”. Whatever the case may be, more often than not, thoughts of tent camping bring with them negative connotations. Why do you think this is? Do you think that possibly, as a society these days, we are just a teensy weensy bit spoiled? Very likely! Tent camping is a lost and forgotten art these days, and I’m here to remind you just how great it can be and how much fun you can have! The best part is that is a great way to stretch your dollar while having tons of fun!
If you have never been tent camping, now is a great time to start planning for it. You still have a few months until Spring and Summer, and plenty of time to get the necessary items together. For your first tent camping trip, I would suggest a really easy breezy experience where there are lots of people around, and lots of activity. Then, if you decide you really like it, you can step it up a notch, and head to a more woodsy or private campsite on a future trip. A great area to try for your first tent camping experience is Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. There are several huge campgrounds in the area that offer tent camping right alongside RV camping. This is fun because it is a mixed bag of people, and there are also lots of amenities. At these large campgrounds you will usually have access to such wonderful things as a lifeguarded beach area, a swimming pool, basketball court, snack bar, laundromat, hot showers, and more! As an added bonus, if you have problems setting up your tent or starting your campfire, there are plenty of friendly, knowledgeable people around who would be glad to lend you a hand. You can practice setting up your tent, and make some great friends in the process! The only “downside” to camping in a large setup such as this, is that tent camping fees can run from about $40 and up in high season. However, that is still way less than you would pay for a hotel room at the beach.
So for planning your first tent camping trip, start a list of things you will need. A big first item is a tent! You can find great deals on most any size tent you need at stores like Kmart, Sears, and Walmart. You don’t need to blow a lot of cash, because these are all basic and good quality. If you take good care of them, they will last, just like anything else. You’ll also want to have sleeping bags and pillows, a foam mat to place under your sleeping bags for cushioning, a cooler for food if you desire, a very small portable charcoal grill, with charcoal, lighter fluid and lighter. Paper plates, cups, and plastic utensils are helpful. Also, some old pots and pans from home for cooking, or you can purchase smaller camping-specific ones. Plastic garbage bags for trash, bug spray, a manual can opener, and a couple flashlights with extra batteries will also help you a bunch. Assuming your first tent camping trip will be in a large place as I have suggested, you will also want to bring your toiletries for the shower, along with towels for shower and beach, and flip flops for beach, and to wear in the shower.
A fun resource for getting ideas for cool camping gear is llbean.com. They have all sorts of high quality items at pretty high prices! Another great resource is cabelas.com. Both of these websites will give you lots of great ideas, and will make you want to buy all of their cool camping gadgets! But wait until you give it a trial run. Make sure you like it first, and then you can go after all those fun goodies.
Once you set up your tent, and have all your items organized, you’ll want to cook yourself something to eat. If you want to go the super easy way, which I would suggest, I would say to cook up a can of soup (preferably with the flip top lid) and have a can of fruit to go along with it. Some crackers or bread on the side will fill you up nicely and keep your cooking and cleanup to a minimum, so you can spend the majority of your time on things like sunning and swimming! If you are looking for a heartier meal that is still super easy to make, I would suggest Mountain House camping meals. They are the greatest! I have used these many times before, and they are quite tasty, and come in a variety of flavors. It is freeze dried food in a foil-like pouch. All you have to do is boil some water, open the package, add the water and stir, and let it sit for about 8 minutes or so. Then your meal is ready! They have meals, side dishes, and desserts. You can find them at mountainhouse.com. Their freeze dried ice cream is amazing!
Well, for now, you have the basic idea of what you’ll need to prepare for your first camping trip. The rest is up to you! Two of the best things you can bring with you on your trip is a positive attitude and an open mind! These two factors are both free, and will truly be your ticket to fun! I think that if you look for all the greatness in your trip, and try to have fun, you will! Sometimes it is difficult at first when you don’t have the luxuries at hand that a hotel can provide. But you will find that when you learn to improvise, and work with your camping partners, before you know it, the amenities, or lack thereof, don’t matter too much, because you are too busy having fun! The best part about the trip, is that when you get home, and compare how much you paid for camping compared to that beach front hotel room, you will have saved so much money, you’ll have plenty to spare to pack right up again and go back! Enjoy!