I’m just going to put this out there. I’m not an expert camper. I used to be an excellent camper. I went to sleep-away camps when I was a child (and as a teen.) I’ve camped on my grandparents’ farm (again, when I was a child) and years ago, I camped in the Adirondacks first with family and then with family friends – in my early adult years. But I haven’t been camping in 11 years.
Until last weekend. (Father’s Day weekend.)
For some reason, I thought I could just throw our stuff into a giant bag and we would be golden. I mean, I registered for fancy camping gear 7 years ago and we received it all as gifts. Surely that would cover us. And then I realized the day before we left that we needed a few things. And some of this I didn’t even think of until we were in the middle of setting up camp. I have only covered my tent camping tips in this guide, but if you are RV camping you should definitely consider getting RV ready portable inverters to make sure that you never have to worry about your van not starting! Anyway, here is Jaime’s list of camping must-haves.
1. A decent tent. I’m so glad we had a decent-sized tent. It fit the pack & play and two adults comfortably.
2. A hammer or a mallet. To pound the tent stakes into the ground. We had to borrow one from neighboring campers.
3. Wood/small limbs for the fire. We bought a bundle of wood at the campground. And I also bought a fire starter. I have no idea what was in that fire starter, but it did the job. We could have used more than the $5 bundle of wood, though. I wish we had also thought to bring some of the limbs from our back yard.
4. Something for the kids to play with while you put the tent up. For us, it was a notepad and pen. And the Eight Silly Monkeys book. I also had the Crayola Color Wonder Travel Tote.
5. Extra clothes for the kids. I had extra shorts, extra underwear, but I forgot extra shirts for my son. And he was a mess. I just needed something clean for him to wear on the car ride home. To fit everything like clothes, toiletries and food in place, it may be best to get something like the Arkadia waterproof backpacks. This way, you won’t have to worry about forgetting any essentials.
6. Sunscreen. Don’t leave home without it.
7. Water. And extra water. We failed on beverages. I had packed plenty of food for our 24-hour trip, but I had no beverages (except one small bottle of milk – and we had to grab more from a gas station.)
8. Simple foods. Plan out your menu ahead of time. We ended up with hot dogs for dinner and Cheerios for breakfast. They both turned out great, and they were easy. If this is your first camp outing, I don’t recommend something crazy and over the top.
9. Metal skewers. We used the skewers for hot dogs. And then s’mores. So much easier than whittling limbs for marshmallow roasting (as I did when I was a kid.)
10. Pillow and some sort of foam padding for your sleeping bags. My husband grabbed extra pillows for us (smart man), but I skipped the foam padding and my back hasn’t let me forget!
I’m throwing in a bonus item:
11. Ingredients for S’Mores. These should be first, but in case you would rather sleep than eat s’mores, go with the tent first and the graham crackers, chocolate bars and marshmallows next.
Camping with a young child wasn’t as awful as I had anticipated it to be. We’re actually considering doing it again. (I know. Shocker.)
Are you a camping person? Would you try camping with a small child?
Oh, hey, I think I used one affiliate link in this post. For the Crayola markers. Just so you know.