Camping is a wonderful family activity that can be a memorable experience for both children and adults. Most people who have bad camping trips are either inexperienced or unprepared. Here are some tips and tricks that we feel will make your camping trip a more pleasurable one.
Packing for Camping
Buy some storage boxes which can be found at discount stores. Transparent ones make it easier to find your things, but the solid color boxes are stronger. Use one box for food, another for camping items, and another for extra clothing. If you are handy, you can make a wooden box with slots for dishes and hooks for your cups. Be sure to take everything you think you might need. Many campgrounds have stores, but charge twice the price.
We have a list of Things To Bring that you can print and use as as guideline.
Once you arrive at your campsite, the fun (and work) begins!
Pitch Your Tent
New tents usually need to be waterproofed. Read the instructions, set up the tent at home and soak it with water to see if your new tent requires such treatment prior to your camping trip. Water proofing substances often come with your tent and if it doesn't you can purchase it at most hardware or camping stores. It is also good practice to set up your tent at home before you need it for shelter. When you pack up your tent, pack the stakes separately to avoid punctures.
When pitching your tent, choose a flat or gently sloping area that isn't in a depression. If your tent is located on a slope, place the door facing downhill, so that rain water will drain away from your tent. On most campground campsites, the best locations will be the areas where others have pitched their tents before you! The safest place to pitch a tent is near small, young trees or brush. Open places leave your tent vulnerable to damaging winds, and sites under large trees are a target for lightning and falling branches. Small trees and brush will protect you from the wind and will not leave you vulnerable to lighting. Your tent should NOT be situated too close to the fire pit or dish washing area.
Clear away all debris. Small rocks and sticks can feel like boulders at 4am. Place a plastic tarp under your tent to reduce moisture. Invest in some air mattresses and place them under the sleeping bags. You will sleep much better.
Always leave your shoes outside the tent. This cuts down on the amount of dirt inside the tent.
Never eat or store food in your tent, as food odors linger and attract animals. Your food, stove, cooler, dishes and garbage should be packed away in the trunk of your vehicle whenever you will be away from camp. To be on the safe side, in addition to locking up all food, it is best to keep chewing gum, mints, toothpaste and perfumed soap in the trunk overnight, rather than in your tent.
If you have more than one tent on your site, align the tents in such a way that, should an animal enter the campsite and become startled, the animal would not feel trapped, without an obvious and easy escape route. DON'T arrange the tents in a circle or too close together in a line or semi-circle. Animals are curious and will wander through your campsite.
Large ice blocks in your cooler last much longer than either ice cubes or freezer packs. You can make your own ice block by filling a plastic milk container with water and placing in your freezer several days before your camping trip. A large block made in this way can last up to 4 or 5 days in your cooler. Don't drain too much of the water as the ice block melts in your cooler. Ice water is a very effective way to keep things cold in your cooler.
In order to save on fuel, it is a good idea to boil extra water at mealtime and keep it in a Thermos. This will enable you to make a hot beverage between meals or at bed time without having to heat up your camp stove again.
Bugs and Sun
Insects are most attracted to dark colored and rough textured clothing. Insects are least attracted to light-colored, smooth-textured clothing. Insects are attracted to perfumed soaps and shampoos.
Buy Natural Citronella, available in oil, soap and hair & body shampoo. These Canadian made products contain all-natural ingredients, are biodegradable and do not contain any toxic ingredients. These products are available at many camping specialty stores and pharmacies. Citronella repels insects. Some people report that Avon Skin-So-Soft Bath Oil makes an effective insect repellent.
If you are using a separate repellent and sunscreen: Apply the sunscreen first, about a half hour before exposure to the sun. Sunscreen needs to be absorbed by the skin in order to provide protection. The insect repellent, which works by emitting a vapor from the surface of the skin can be applied second.
Remember to have fun on your camping trip. Enjoy the sites around you but be a good neighbor. If you are near other campers, keep your noise down, especially in the evening.