Saturday, October 5, 2019

Camping Adventures Part 2 - The Basics of Camping

Maybe my first post about why I like to camp has inspired you, but you know nothing about camping.  My goal with this post is to teach some of the basic concepts.  My next post will give a detailed packing and organization list.

These pictures are from our first and second camping trips when Tomato was barely 3 and Blueberry was 13 or 14 months

Types of camping

Backpacking/wilderness - This was what I did as a young person.  You get a special backpack, a light weight tent and take everything you need to camp with you.  The longest I ever did was a 3 night 4 day trip.

Car (tent) camping - This is what we do now.  You load everything into your car, drive to the camp site, unload everything from your car and hang out there.  I love tent camping, but some tents don't handle the weather as well as other tents.  My old backpacking tent did great in all weather, of course.  However our huge family tent (that my brother-in-law dubbed "the Taj-ma-Tent") can't handle wind or heavy rain. After treating the fly (that goes over the top of the tent) with weather treating, it's fine in light rain, but we don't want to risk something stronger with the kids.

RV/Trailer - Some people own RVs/Traiers and others may rent them at certain RV parks.  I flirt with the idea of getting a trailer one day.

Retrofitted bus etc - A guy I used to work with restored a VW bus and he and his family would go camping in it!

Cabin - Some state parks have cabins that you can rent.  You'll still need to supply almost everything including bedding, fire starting, etc.  We plan on cabin camping a couple times this year at further away locations so that we don't have to set up our tent after driving 3+ hours and that we would want to make sure we still went even if the weather was bad.

Glamping - This is just a term for adding some glamour and comfort to your camping trip.  For example, with our air mattresses, we'd probably be called glampers!  As you can see, D even has a fan to help keep him cool!

Places to camp:

In some states you can't just park your car and sleep there.  You'll need to get a reservation

State or national parks-  I enjoy camping at state parks.  I've found them to be very pretty and less expensive than private parks, but they fill up pretty fast.  In Indiana you can book 6 months in advance and you need to make sure you hop on exactly 6 months in advance especially for festival weekends.

Even if you plan to do a backpacking/wilderness style trip, you'll still want to get reservations in advance.

Jellystone parks-  I love Jellystones!  They all have a big Yogi bear that can come read the kids a story and pretend to try to steal their picnic baskets.  Each weekend has a different theme and they usually have some sort of water play to do.  We are usually the only tent campers in the whole place, lol, but that's fine!

HOA- Another brand of RV parks.  I have not personally camped at them, but Pete used to when he was a kid.  Like Jellystones, they also have a lot of activities to do with your family.

rivate campgrounds - The quality ranges from place to place so really look at reviews before booking.  Jellystones and HOA have standards to remain in the brand.  Sometimes the parks are super great and sometimes they are more run down.  We've had great experiences at the private campgrounds we've stayed at! This picture is from a Halloween festival at a local private camp ground!

Basics of what you need:

Itinerary of where you will be communicated to others:
This is especially important if you are backpacking or going somewhere remote.  If something happens to you or your family you'll want people to know where to start looking...or that looking is something they'd need to do.

First Aid Kit - Accidents happen in nature and you'll want to be able to handle it.  In my packing post I'll include what we have in our first aid kit.  You'll also want to make sure to grab any prescriptions, of course!

Something to sleep inside of - This would be a tent, RV, trailer, etc...unless you are cabin camping of course...there is something beautiful about the idea of sleeping under the stars, but once the dew starts to come down on your face, you might change your tune :-P

Bedding and something to put under it - You'll want a sleeping bag or something.  But, I would not suggest laying it directly on the ground.  Even when I did backpacking, I still had a sleeping mat.  Albeit a self-inflating super light one.  Now, as I mentioned above, we bring an air mattress.  Z has a cot and D uses a pack and play.  When it's cold, I put a blanket between the ground and our air mattress.  The ground is a huge heat sink.  I'd rather have a blanket under the air mattress to keep what I am sleeping on warm than an extra blanket on top of me.  Usually we bring sheets for the air mattress and make it up like a bed but if the temperatures will get down into the 50's we each have our own sleeping bags.  You can also get double sleeping bags, which we are planning on doing this year since the boys always end up in our bed in the early morning hours.

A way to make fire - First, do not bring your firewood with you.  This can transport insects and diseases to new areas.  You should always buy your firewood where you are camping.  But you will need matches or a fire starter and some kindling.

Food - I'll have a whole post on camping food.  This is one of the most important .  But to start, you don't need to go all out.  My kids are happy with hotdogs, Pringles and apples!

Light - The best part of camping is when the sun goes down!  But if you want to keep the fun going, you'll need some sort of light source.  We have headlamps for the boys so that they can see and that we can see where they are.  We also have lanterns for each adult and an extra one for the camp table...and a string of lights for over the tent door.  We also have citronella candles to give us light and a bug free area.

 This is Part 2 of a 4 Part series
Part 1: Why We Camp with Little Kids
Part 3: What I Pack and How I Organize When Camping with Little Kids
Part 4: More than S'mores and Hotdogs: Favorite Camping Recipes

Some good links with more information:
* REI - Intro to Camping - Lots of links with different reviews of gear.  I love REI and we get most of our gear from either them or Cabella's.

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