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Fall Camping

Fall Camping

Fall camping is the perfect outdoor activity! It is certainly our favorite time of the year to camp! The days are cooler, the leaves are beginning to change color, and the crowds begin to thin. The skills you use when camping in the fall are the same as in the fall, but there are a couple things to consider as the season changes at your campsite.

Fall Camping
Grand Canyon – North Rim

Tips to make your fall camping trip successful

Fall weather can be unpredictable so you should research the average temperature in the area you plan to visit and then pack for your trip accordingly.  Here are some other simple tips for making your fall camping trip a success:

  • Adjust your schedule. Night comes earlier in the fall than the summer. You may need to set up your campsite earlier in the day than you are used to – unless you don’t mind setting up your tent in the dark! 
  • Don’t forget to bring a sleeping pad. During the summer you can get away with sleeping on the ground but as the outside temperatures start to cool, the ground will get harder and colder – you’ll be glad to have a sleeping pad on chilly fall nights! A sleeping pad will insulate you against the cold ground. You will sleep warmer and much more comfortably too!
  • Have a plan for keeping warm in case it gets cold – Depending on where you camp, fall weather can turn on a dime and you never know when you might get stuck in the rain. Make sure to pack a rain-proof tent with a full fly and pack layers of clothing so you can add or subtract layers with changing temperatures. Always bring rain gear or a poncho in case the weather turns wet.
  • Bring plenty of lighting. Because night comes earlier in the fall, you may need to rely more on flashlights, lanterns or headlamps in the fall than you would in the summer. You don’t want to be stumbling around your campsite in the dark! If your light requires batteries, bring extra. Our Scoutmaster used to say “if you have one, you have none; if you have two, you have one”. (always have a back up!) Shop ours here!
  • Have a plan for bad weather days. Fall weather can be unpredictable and can sometimes change quickly. Have a plan if you’re stuck in your tent all day with bad weather. Napping is a favorite, but travel-sized board games, books, cards, and other simple ways to keep busy are always good. (we used to bring coloring books, paper, & crayons for the kids).
Beef stew
  • Bring plenty of hearty food. Not only will you be exerting a lot of energy while hiking and doing other outdoor activities, but your body will burn extra calories to keep your body warm during the colder days and nights. Make sure to start your day with a hearty breakfast and refuel every few hours. Eating a hearty dinner will also help keep you warm at night. We make stews, chilis, and other meals that fill you up and help keep you warm at night.

Fall can be an awesome time of year for a camping. The temperatures are more tolerable than they are in summer depending on where you camp.  Besides that, you get to enjoy the beauty of color-changing leaves as well as the crisp air. If you are planning a camping trip for this fall, keep some of the above tips in mind to make your trip a success.

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Camping Hacks

hack  n \hak\ :

The dictionary describes a hack as “a strategy or technique for managing one’s time or activities more efficiently”. As with everything in life, there is always a “hack” to make things easier. Below are some of our favorite camping hacks. Have you tried any of these? Have any hacks to add? Comment below and share!

Fill your Nalgene with warm water and put it at the bottom of your sleeping bag to keep your feet warm

Strap your headlamp to your translucent water bottle with the light shining inward for a makeshift lantern. A translucent bottle works best!

Making pancakes? Make your mix ahead of time and store in an old ketchup squeeze bottle.

Camping Hacks

Freeze gallon jugs of water and put them in your cooler as an ice block. When it melts, you have water!

Camping Hacks

Keep tomorrows clothes in the bottom of your sleeping bag at night. The clothes will be warmer to put on in the morning and your feet will stay warmer too.

Use microfiber towels. They dry fast and are lightweight.

Camping Hacks

Backpack not waterproof? Use a trash bag as a liner to keep your gear dry.

Camping Hacks

An old coffee can, can make a great TP holder.

Camping Hacks

Wrap a layer of duct tape around your water bottle, just in case.

Keep a pair of dry, clean socks in your sleeping bag that are only for sleeping in. Your feet will thank you and you will be warmer too.

Camping Hacks

Keep the old silica gel packs that come in, well, everything and keep one in your mess kit. It will absorb any moisture and prevent rust.

Forget your pillow? Stuff some clean clothes into your sleeping bag stuff sack for a good replacement pillow.

Camping Hacks

Make toothpaste dots. If you are worried about weight, pus toothpaste in dots on a wax paper, let dry, sprinkle with baking soda and you have “single serving” toothpaste at the ready.

Camping Hacks

Put some dryer lint or cotton balls into an old Altoids tin with a metal match for a handy fire starting kit.

Camping Hacks

Stuff a shirt or newspaper in wet shoes with the insole removed for a quicker dry.

Forget your plate? Have you ever eaten out of a frisbee? It works as a great plate (& you can play with it too!)

Camping Hacks

Hand sanitizer can be a great fire starter!

Make tick deterrent.

Camping Hacks

Dryer lint and cotton balls make great fire starters. You can also dip cotton pads in wax for a great fire starter.

Cooking directly on coals in foil pouches? Wrap meat in cabbage to keep it from burning.

Old birthday candles can also be used as a fire starter.

Camping Hacks

A 5 gallon bucket with a toilet lid make a good alternative (don’t forget the bag to go inside).

Those plastic bread tags can be re-purposed as clothespins.

If you lose a grommet in your tarp, twist a rock or small stick into the corner for an anchor point.

Camping Hacks

Doritos actually make great kindling to start a fire.

An old candle rubbed on a zipper will help it work smoothly.

Seal spices into old drinking straws for a small spice rack on the trail. Tic Tac boxes work well too!

Camping Hacks

Add a bundle of sage to the campfire to keep mosquitoes away.

Camping Hacks

Pack a mini first aid kit into an old Altoids tin.

Camping Hacks

Use tennis balls in the dryer with your sleeping bag to maintain the loft.

Do you have any hacks to add? Please leave them in the comments section below.

 

 

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How to Get a Longer Life Out of Your Tent

Luxe Tempo 4 Person Tent

For many campers, the most important piece of equipment is their tent. Tents can range anywhere from tens of dollars to hundreds of dollars. The best way to make that money stretch is caring for your equipment. If you take care of your equipment and treat it right, there’s no reason your tent cant last a decade or even more!

1. Here comes the pitch….

When you pitch your tent, be sure to make sure any sharp objects aren’t going to be underneath you. Not only can this be uncomfortable, but those sharp objects can poke a hole in the floor. This is a great argument for a ground cloth. In the past, I have preached that you don’t really need a ground cloth; and while that may be true, a ground cloth can add an extra layer of protection to the floor of your tent.

When you put your poles together, don’t snap them into place, but put the poles together section by section. Snapping them can cause fiberglass poles to splinter and while not an end-all, creates more work to have to repair the pole.

If you tent is pitched out in the open with no shade, leave your rain fly on. The sun’s UV rays can break down the ten’s walls and the rain fly with it’s waterproofing, will offer more protection.

Coleman Hooligan Tent 8' x 6', 2 Person

2. Keep it clean

After each campout, clean out your tent. Be sure to get all the leaves, sticks, twigs, pine cones, etc out of there.  Also if there are extra dirty spots, spot clean them with simple soap & water. Don’t use stain sticks dishwashing liguid, or bleach. These can break down the material of your tent. To minimize the amount of debris, I actually take off my shoes and leave them outside under the fly, or bring them in if it’s going to rain or snow.

3. Seal the seams

Most tents nowadays are factory sealed at the seams. If your tents starts getting older, you may have to re-seal your seams to keep them waterproof. We like the Coleman seam sealer that can be purchased here.  This seam sealer is pretty easy to use with it’s applicator tip. You may have to re waterproof your rain fly as well. If you do, spray some of this on your tent and it will be waterproof again. Be sure to let both of these products dry before packing your tent away!

COPPERHEAD 6×5 DOME TENT

4. Storage

It should go without saying, but never store your tent when it’s wet. Sure, you may have to break camp in a hurry due to a down pour, but as soon as you get home, set it back up and let it dry out completely. Packing a wet tent can cause mildew which is not only unsightly (black spots on the walls), but it can also break down the fabric.

5. Zip it good

All too often, tents get thrown out because the zipper fails. Be careful when zipping & unzipping the door or windows. If you catch the fabric, this can cause a tear in the wall. Since zippers take so much strain (all the tension when the tent is up), be sure to show the zippers some love. You can do this by rubbing an old candle on the teeth of the zipper. This will help keep it lubricated and less likely to snag.

Tent fold

6. It’s all in the fold

When folding your tent to pack it away, try folding it differently. It’s easy to fold it along the same seams as before (heck, the lines are already there for you!). Folding along the same crease each time can make the crease brittle and cause unwanted tears. Try folding your tent different each time. As long as it fits in the bag, you’re good!

 

Your tent is an investment just like a vehicle. If you take care of your vehicle, it will last a long time. Same goes for your tent!

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Luxe Tempo 4 Person Tent Review

Luxe Tempo 4 Person Tent

Luxe Tempo 4 Person Tent Review

We were excited to pick up the Luxe Tempo 4 person tent. It arrived well packaged and in a stuff sack as you would expect. The first thing we noticed was that the stuff sack had compression straps and a handle so you could carry it like a duffel bag which is cool.

What’s in the bag:

  • Tent
  • Rain fly
  • 2 main poles
  • 1 pole for rain fly
  • 14 aluminum tent pegs
  • 6 neon guy lines
Luxe Tempo 4 Person Tent Review
Duffel bag style stuff sack
Luxe Tempo 4 Person Tent
All laid out & ready to set up

We opened up the stuff sack (tent comes out through the top), and pulled out the tent, aluminum poles, pegs, & rain fly which were all bound by a strap. The first thing we noticed was how light the tent material itself was. Another cool thing we liked, was that the instructions were sewn into the top of the stuff sack.

Luxe Tempo 4 Person Tent Review
Instructions sewn into stuff sack

We laid out the tent and started setting it up. The aluminum poles went together as if they were magnetic (gotta love new elastic!). The poles slip easily int a grommet in each corner crossing at the top. Instead of feeding the poles through a flap, there are clips to hold the sides of the tent to the poles which makes for a much easier set-up. The tent went up very easily and without any issues. We unfolded the rain fly and draped it over the tent. The rain fly clips into each corner and has a strap for adjustments. The rain fly features two vestibules and 2 vents that pop up for increased circulation. After we installed the rain fly, we installed the pole for the fly. In hindsight, we should have done the fly pole first before setting up the rain fly, next time. We staked down the 2 vestibules, popped up the vents and  attached one of the guy lines.

Luxe Tempo 4 Person Tent Review
All set up

What we lined about the tent:

We really liked the size of this tent. At just under 8′ x 7′, this tent has plenty of room. Add the 2 vestibules into the mix for gear storage and you have more than enough room for everyone. This is sold as a 4-person tent, but 3 people can sleep comfortably. (see my article on tent sizes here) We also really liked the weight of this tent. At 7 pounds, and given it’s compact size when in the stuff sack; it will easily fit into a back pack without too much pain. You could even split up the components between hikers if you were back pack camping to distribute the weight even more. When the rain fly is foo, the whole top of the tent is a fine mesh. Small enough to keep the bugs out, and awesome for star gazing!  We also liked the fact that there are 2 doors! No more climbing over your tent mate and waking them up in the middle of the night. Not only are there 2 doors, but they are HUGE! Most of the wall on the door side is the door itself. In each corner of the tent there is a pocket for your “stuff” (flashlight, glasses, phone, etc) which is really a cool feature. The gear loft at the roof of the tent inside is also cool. We were able to put our headlamps up there and light up the whole tent without accidentally looking at the other person and blinding them.

What we would change:

The only thing we could think of that we would change is the rain fly opening. When you stake down the rain fly at the bottom of the zipper, you have to squeeze through the slit of an opening. We are fairly agile here at Camp Gear Center, so it wasn’t a big deal. We could see it being a point of potential damage to the tent at this area.

Conclusion:

This is a great tent! We didn’t get any rain so we cant attest to the “waterproofness” of it, but if the rest of the construction is any indication, we have no doubts that we would stay dry in this tent. With the amount of ventilation, we also doubt there would be much condensation in cold weather camping either! Below are some additional pics of the features:

Luxe Tempo 4 Person Tent
Pop up vents
Luxe Tempo 4 Person Tent
Rain fly clips
Luxe Tempo 4 Person Tent
Huge doors! (looking out towards the fly)
Luxe Tempo 4 Person Tent
One of the corner “gear pockets”
Luxe Tempo 4 Person Tent
Spacious gear loft
Luxe Tempo 4 Person Tent
Inside of the pop up vent
Luxe Tempo 4 Person Tent
Tent specs on the underside of the stuff sack

Luxe Tempo 4 Person Tent

You can purchase this tent here

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Low Impact Camping

Low Impact Camping

I have a bad knee, so I practice low impact exercise whenever I can. I am a Boy Scout leader, so I do my best to practice low impact camping every time I camp.  Low impact camping has little to do with the impact on your body, but everything to do with the environment. In Boy Scouts, we call this Leave No Trace. Leave No Trace is more of an attitude than a set of rules for camping, hiking, or backpacking.

You might wonder how one group can make a difference, but over time small impacts can add up and cause a great amount of damage to the environment. What we will discuss here are the seven principles of Leave No Trace.

1. Plan ahead and prepare

The Boy Scout motto is Be Prepared. Proper planning and preparation helps Scouts have an enjoyable adventure while minimizing damage to natural and cultural resources. You can follow this motto too! Another way to say this is having the right equipment. Bringing the right equipment can make or break an outing. Knowing the regulations of the area where you plan to visit can help you plan as well. Certain land managers have certain rules and it is important to know them before you head out. Check the weather reports for your destination and pack  food to minimize the amount of trash to pack out.

2. dispose of waste properly

This is quite simply put as “pack it in, pack it out”. Leaving trash has an impact on both the environment and other campers. Nobody likes to see a bunch of trash laying around so pack it out! If there is trash at or near your sit, grab it too! We always carry a few trash bags with us on our hikes and unfortunately, come back with the full.

Wastewater: After straining food particles, properly dispose of dishwater by dispersing at least 200 feet (about 80 to 100 strides for a youth) from springs, streams, and lakes.

Human waste: Cat holes should be dug 6-8 inches deep and 200 feet away from water, trails, and campsites.  Don’t try to burn your toilet paper; this can start forest fires.

3. travel and camp on durable surfaces

Low Impact Camping

Damage to land occurs when visitors trample vegetation or communities of organisms beyond recovery. The resulting barren areas develop into undesirable trails, campsites, and soil erosion. In high use areas, concentrate your activities where vegetation isn’t present. In remote areas, spread out and move your tent daily so as not to create permanent looking campsites. Avoid areas where impacts are just beginning to show. Try to camp or hike on durable surfaces such as rock, gravel, sand, compacted soil, dry grasses, or even snow.

4. leave what you find

Leaving what you find allows others to enjoy the outdoors and have the same sense of discovery as you did when you explored the area. Leave rocks, plants, animals, and archaeological artifacts as you found them. The old “look but don’t touch” comes to mind with artifacts. In some areas it may be illegal to move artifacts.

Trenching near tent. PLEASE DON’T DO THIS

Minimize site alterations. Good campsites are found not made. Avoid building structures or digging trenches.

5. minimize campfire impacts

Low Impact Camping

To some, camping without a campfire is plain wrong. If you MUST have a campfire, pick a campsite where a campfire ring has already been established. This minimizes the impact on the environment by creating another fire ring. Leave No Trace campfires are small. Use deadwood that can be easily broken by hand. Burn your fire down to ash and remove any trash that may be in the fire ring (whether it’s yours or not).

6. respect wildlife

Remember, you are a visitor in their environment. Quick movements and loud noises are stressful to animals. Observe wildlife from afar, give them a wide berth, and don’t leave food out. Human food can harm or even kill wildlife. Keep the wildlife wild.

7. Be considerate to other visitors

Thoughtful campers respect other visitors and the quality of their experience. Travel in small groups and let nature’s sounds prevail.Nobody like to be out camping to relax and unwind and have a huge party going on near them. Select campsites away from other campers to preserve their solitude. Respect private property and leave gates as found.

On our last campout, we decided to camp in a pre-camped in site with a fire ring and plenty of room for our troop. We Hauled our trash out and even brought back quite a bit of trash left by others.

I’m not saying you have to follow 100% of these principles 100% of the time;  but if you are mindful of them, and follow them as best you can, there will be plenty of wilderness for ages to come.

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How to Keep Warm in Your Tent at Night

Winter camping is great! Being cold at night in your tent…not so much. We have compiled a few tips to help you keep warm in your tent at night so your trip is more enjoyable.

Get an Appropriate Sleeping Bag

keep warm in your tent sleeping bag

Having the proper temperature rating on your sleeping bag is the number 1 way to stay warm. If you are camping in lower temperatures, a zero degree bag  can keep you plenty warm. For an even warmer bag, try a fleece liner. A fleece line will increase the rating of your bag from 10-15 degrees! If you need a good rated bag, check out these.

Use a Sleeping Pad

keep warm in your tent sleeping pad

Air mattresses are great in the summertime. I colder temperatures, air mattresses are filled with cold air. A sleeping pad will offer more insulation because they are filled with compressible foam as well as the air which insulates well.

Use a Mylar Blanket

Mot people consider these “emergency” blankets. A mylar blanket works by reflecting your own heat back to you. Some propose to attach these to the inside of your tent roof to keep the heat in. This can cause condensation inside your tent which equals wet. Wet + cold = miserable. It is best to wrap the mylar blanket around you or on top of you.

Cover Your Lid

Keep warm in your tent hat

A lot of your body heat is lost through the top of your head, most people know that. Wearing a stocking cap to bed will help keep the heat lost through your head in and therefore keeping you warm. We actually keep a winter hat in our bag at all times in case it gets cold at night.

Warm up a Bottle

keep warm in your tent bottle

Another trick we use to keep warm is to heat up some water on your camp stove and fill our water bottle. We keep the water bottle (with the lid on tight) inside our bag at night which helps to keep us warm. Obviously, an insulated bottle won’t work for this. We use a plastic Nalgene bottle which works great!

Socks

Keep warm in your tent socks

You can’t argue with a pair of wool socks to keep your feet warm at night. We were on a campout recently and didn’t wear our socks to bed the first night and slept horribly. The next night, with the socks…slept like a baby!

Rock that Tent!

You can actually warm up rocks next to the fire before turning in for the night and put them in a towel, or sock and stick them in your sleeping bag. Make sure the rock(s) you use are not wet to begin with. A quickly heated rock can explode and cause a lot more grief than being cold.

Vent the Tent

It may seem counter-intuitive, but a well ventilated tent is less likely to have condensation inside. When the heat from your body and breath on the inside of the tent is warmer than the outside of the tent, condensation occurs. A thin layer of moisture inside your tent will certainly be colder than no moisture. Vent the tent to keep the inside dry and be warmer.

Just because it’s cold outside, doesn’t mean you have to be cold inside your tent. These ideas are tested by us and work. What other methods have you tried that work? Leave us a comment below.

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How to tie Taut Line Hitch

The taut line hitch is an adjustable loop-type knot for lines under tension. This knot is perfect for tying guy lines to pegs or any place you need to adjust the tension. A fairly easy knot to tie and a very handy one to know.

 

How to tie the taut line

taut line hitch

Make a turn around a post or other object several feet from the free end.

Coil the free end twice around the standing line working back toward the post.

Make one additional coil around the standing line on the outside of the coils just made.

Tighten the knot and slide it on the standing line to adjust tension.

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10 Signs You Have a Camping Addiction

We love camping. The smell of the fire, the sounds of nature, the lack of busyness; these are just a few of the reasons. As I look around at all my gear, it occurred to me that I might have a camping addiction. As far as addictions go, there could be worse ones. I have compiled a list of “symptoms”. How many of these do you have?

Camping addiction
Camping and canoeing with the Boy Scouts
You have an entire wardrobe dedicated to camping.

There have been many times where I went to grab a shirt and decided I couldn’t wear it because it was a “camping shirt”. This has also happened with shorts, jackets, hats, and shoes.

You have a tent for every scenario

Am I camping with the family? Am I sharing a tent? Do I need more room for my gear? Is it going to be windy, cold, rainy? Will I be able to drive in pegs? I have a different tent for almost every one of these situations.

You have as many backpacks as an outdoor retailer

When I open my closet, I have a minimum of 6 different day packs. I’m pretty sure they multiply in there, but I can’t be certain. Due to my camping addiction, and changing tastes, day packs seem to add up.

When you drive down the road, you always scope out good camping spots

Camping Addiction

When  travel, I am ALWAYS on the lookout for a road that may take me out into the forest for a nice secluded camping spot. There are times when I’ve driven into the woods, scoped out a great spot and marked it on my smart phone map for a return trip.

You cook your meals over a fire
camping addiction
Dutch oven coking

Cooking over fire isn’t just for camping. We have cooked many a desert and meal in our dutch oven at home. We store it in our pop-up camper so we know to keep it handy so we can use it.

You have a stocked camper ready to go
camping addiction
Reloading

Our pop-up is always at the ready. In fact, all we need to grab to get out the door is food and clothes. Everything is always in the camper. Propane is full, dishes, silverware, towels, bedding, and everything else is always ready to go. Because of this, we can mobilize for a camping trip pretty quickly.

You can’t use your garage due to camping gear

Back when we had a garage, 1/2 of it was taken up by our pop-up camper and the other half my wife’s car used. Of course the camper was stocked and piled up with other tents, chairs, and other outdoor gear; but this only left a small percentage of the garage for other uses.

You have a sleeping bag for every temperature

Zero degree, 20 degree, summer bag, it doesn’t matter. You have these bags and more. You even have a liner for either a light bag or to make your cold weather bag better. When my daughter asks for a bag for a sleep over, I immediately ask “how warm is the room going to be?”. Gotta make sure to be warm enough.

You scour yard sales for camping gear

Camping addiction - yard sale

You probably have the gear you need, but finding decent gear at a bargain? Heck yeah! I don’t know how many times I’ve visited a yard sale and asked “any camping gear?”. If the answer is no, I typically move on. If the answer is yes, awesome! Typically there are stories shared about why they’re selling, where they’ve camped… Good times.

You suggest a camping trip for Mother’s day

Camping addiction

or her birthday, your anniversary, valentines day, or just because. Because she loves you (and camping), she agrees. The picture above is from one of our Mother’s Day trips which was an awesome weekend. Due to my wife being awesome, this trip was actually her idea!

Did we leave any symptoms out? What symptoms do you exhibit that are not on this list? Since we admittedly have a camping addiction, we want to hear from others who do as well. The question becomes: “should I seek help?”. No way! Get outside & camp more!

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Everything I Learned about Camping…

As a kid, I was a Boy Scout (I am now a Scoutmaster). Everyone knows that Boy Scouts like camping. As a Scout, I did a lot of camping, and as a Scoutmaster I seem to do even more. Camping to me is “hitting the reset” button. Whether with my family, or with the troop, being in nature, makes everything better.

Below are some of the things I’ve learned over my camping career (some the hard way).

Camping Lessons:

  • Pitch your tent in your garden or yard beforehand your first outing  to make sure it’s all there and you know how to set it up.
  • On uneven ground, don’t pitch your tent in a valley. That’s the first place water & moisture will pool.
  • Always make a list of the things required, and tick it off as it goes in the pack.
  • If it is windy, be sure to stake down your tent. Even if the tent can’t be picked up by the wind, the corner can flap like crazy.
  • Double check your equipment before heading out. Make sure the gas stove works, you have fuel for it, you have batteries for the flashlight, etc.
  • Pre-prepared meals can save a bunch of time. If you make up your dry pancake ingredients beforehand, you will only have to mix in the wet in the morning.
  • A hotel bar of soap inside an old pantyhose leg hung by the water faucet is a convenient place to keep it. Not only does your soap not get lost, but the pantyhose act as an abrasive to help clean your hands.
  • Take spare tent pegs and invest in good pegs that won’t bend easily.
  • Consider a site with good facilities for first timer camping experiences.
  • 2 words: extra batteries. Nothing worse than being out camping with a dead flashlight.
  • Take extra plastic bags for wet clothes, wet shoes, trash, etc.
  • Remember to bring a can opener. I always keep a military style P38 in my bag and mess kit.
P38 can opener. A must for camping!
P38 can opener

 

  • Being close to the camp toilet, while convenient, isn’t always the best spot. Try to camp up wind.
  • Duct tape. Always take this. I’ve repaired tent fly, splinted broken poles, mended cooking utensils, repaired canoes, the possibilities are endless. In stead of bringing a whole roll, I wrap a fair amount around an old piece of PVC pipe.
  • Enjoy yourself!

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Camping with Children

Before we were married, my wife & I used to enjoy camping separately. We had never camped together until we had children. Camping with children can be a wonderful experience. Being in nature, awesome scenery, fresh air, and your kiddos; it doesn’t get much better. A friend of ours gave us an old pop-up camper and we decided to join them and give it a try. To ensure everyone has a good time, we have compiled some tips for a successful trip. 

The pop-up

Before you go

  • Before hauling the family out into the middle of nowhere, try a trial run at home. Set up a tent in the backyard and let them experience the sounds of sleeping in a tent.
  • Take a family day out at a nearby lake or park and see how they do out in nature. Show them some of the cool things about their surroundings to help keep their interest.
  • Take notes. Did you forget anything? Is there something you should bring on your campout? Write it down, it helps.

 Preparing for Your Trip

  • Involve the children. Let them help pick where to go, what to do, what they want to see. This will keep them invested and help hold their interest. 
  • Let them pack. Give the children a list, and let them pack their own gear. Naturally, you will want to double check their gear so they don’t forget something critical.
Packed & ready to go!

 

  • Let them bring a few toys. Some toys from home can make the kids feel more comfortable. I certainly wouldn’t bring anything small that could easily get lost; but some favorites will help them enjoy the trip for sure.
  • If you get the chance to camp with friends who have children, they will keep each other entertained. That’s what we did when we joined our friends. The kids all had a blast.
  • Check for fire restrictions. The forest can sometimes get put on fire restriction in the summer. Make sure there are no restrictions where you are heading. Some of the best memories are around the campfire (s’mores, marshmallows, songs…)
  •  Most importantly, be enthusiastic. Let the children know by your actions that you are as excited about the trip as they are.

At Camp

  • Be prepared. Everything in camp is different. Change is sometimes difficult for kids. The bathroom isn’t just down the hall, there is no night light to turn on, etc. You have to be ready for almost anything. The best way to be prepared is to make sure you bring everything on your list. If you need a list, click here.  
Thea children loved cooling off in these
Home made “pools” to cool off

 

  • A positive attitude about everything will take you far. Lead by example with a positive attitude and others are bound to follow.
  • Get organized. Establish a place for everything. “Flashlights are in this pocket”, “kitchen supplies are over here”, you get the idea. Once you have an organization plan, stick to it.
  • Know your place. Make sure the children know what campsite you are in and how to get back case they stray from camp.
  • Be safe. Make sure the kids know what to do if they get lost. We gave each kiddo a whistle to wear around their necks and usually dressed them in a bright shirt. We taught them that if they get lost, to stay put and blow their whistles. Thankfully, we never had to test this system.

Get Outside

  • Enlist the camp host or park rangers. Ask them about wildlife in the area to be on the lookout for. It is your responsibility to be sure to store food so that the wildlife doesn’t make a surprise visit. We had one camp host have the kids look for pine cones that squirrels had eaten and to bring her a bucket full.  Once they returned with the bucket, she gave them some paints and blocks to create art with.
  • Make the most of being outside. Look for wildlife, learn about the local vegetation, go on a family hike. While on a hike, take a moment to stop and listen. What do you hear? What sounds are different than at home? Attend a ranger talk if there is one. Lay outside at night and look for constellations, you may see a shooting star!
  • Be active, stay flexible. Be sure to do as much as you can at camp, but be flexible to plans that change. If someone gets tired, take a break. Be flexible in your plans for the trip. If you miss a ranger talk, no big deal.
  • Try geocaching. While you are at camp, try this. There are sometimes great caches around campsites.
  • Enjoy your family. Some of my fondest memories are camping as a Boy Scout with my dad and camping with my children. The best memories are made while at camp.

Fun Things You Can Bring

  • When we camped in our pop-up camper, we always had crayons, paper and bubbles on hand.
  • Sticks for roasting marshmallows. Bring the rest of the s’mores ingredients too!
  • Frisbees, balls, flashlights, glow sticks. The kids couldn’t wait for darkness to come so they could play with the glow sticks.
  • Ice cream maker. How much fun is it to make ice cream at camp? There are plenty of non-electric ones out there. We used this ball that housed the ingredients and mixed as the ball was rolled around. It actually worked pretty well!
Children will love to help with this
Manual ice cream maker

 

  • If you are camping in warm weather, squirt guns are fun if you don’t mind getting squirted (you know they will squirt you!)
  • Bicycles. While you’re at camp, it’s super fun to ride around and see what the rest of the campground has to offer. Don’t forget helmets!
  • A deck of cards. Card games are great fun at camp. Not only are card games fun, but a deck of cards doesn’t take up much room with all your other “stuff”. Uno was a favorite of ours.

Our children loved camping! They loved visiting different campgrounds and even some wilderness camping. We have all learned about the best things to bring & do and what to leave at home. 

Spending time with the kids at camp is a blast. Children love being outside and exploring nature. You will love seeing nature through your kids’ eyes. Get out there, get your kids involved, & have fun! 

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