Camping: The Great Outdoors and the Basics

Camping: The Great Outdoors and the Basics

Summer time means camping time, am I right?!? One of our familys favorite getaways during the summer months is to go out and go camping. Sometimes it is for a week, and sometimes it is just for a weekend getaway.

Both my husband and I grew up camping with our families and we knew that one day when we had kids that camping would become an important part of our summer activities. Thankfully for us, we live in a gorgeous part of our country with tons of awesome campgrounds. We normally go somewhere where we can drive our truck to the site and haven’t (yet) done any hike-ins but I have included some info about really roughing it. One thing we have stuck to is camping in a tent (except the summer we lived in a travel trailer, but that’s a story for another day).

A very important part of taking your family camping is knowing what to bring and what to pack so today I am going to share with you a bunch of information about the basics of what to bring when camping.

And just so you know, this post contains affiliate links (You can read more about affiliate links at the bottom of this post)

Tips and Tidbits for a Great Camping Experience

When it comes to camping, the best rule of thumb is to plan, plan, and plan some more. The more you have planned out, the more successful your trip will be in the end. This will leave you wanting to go back to camping again really soon.

Make a List and Check It Again

Make a list and check it three times. Be sure to make lists under each category of camping, for example:

* Bedding requirements
* Tent supplies
* Cooking equipment
* Toiletries
* Bug spray and sunscreen
* First aid kit contents
* Food and water checklist
* Flashlights, batteries, matches, etc.

Make a list for everything you can think of that you will need as you go along. Think about sleeping, eating, having fun in the sun, getting wet if there is a lake and so on. This way you will not forget anything.

Check Out Nearby Necessities

If you are uncomfortable with just using what you have remembered to bring along, then check the campsite and see how close the nearest general store or food stand is to your site. In addition, you may want to check out the nearest medical facility to ease your mind just in case of emergency.

Camping: The Great Outdoors and the Basics
Look for farmers markets or farm stands to shop at on your way to your camping adventure.


Look into the closest repair shop for your vehicle or camper if you have one. These things may seem trivial now, but thinking about them and making sure you know what you are up against is a wise choice indeed.

Focus on the Fun

There is a lot of time, effort, and certainly packing that goes into camping. However, don’t forget to focus on the fun. Look into activities such as kayaking, fishing, rock climbing, and hiking while you are camping.

Camping: The Great Outdoors and the Basics
We love kayaking when camping by a lake.

Taking lots of pictures (this is my favorite camera) to scrapbook on the way home is a great idea and a wonderful way to keep kids busy and occupied. On the way up to camping, everyone is excited. On the way down, however, everyone always wants to know, “Are we home yet?

Don’t forget to pack some toys for all ages. If you are camping in the fall, a football toss is great fun for everyone. Summertime and bubbles just go together hand in hand. And, of course, graham crackers and marshmallows for s’mores are always unforgettable. Frisbees, horseshoes, and bocci ball are all great favorites, as well.

Camping: The Great Outdoors and the Basics
Campfire and marshmallows are essential to the camping experience!

These are just a few tips and tidbits to make your camping experience a delight!


If you are an avid camper, then you probably have everything set in stone as far as equipment goes. And better yet, you probably have a routine down pat. However, for those of you who are new to camping, here are some of the essentials and some things that you simply may not have thought of or remembered.


The most important thing to have for your camping adventure is a shelter. Shelter from the possible extremes is essential. Even if you are not surrounded by inclement weather, things such as spiders and snakes do exist and the need to protect yourself from them is all-important.

Camping: The Great Outdoors and the Basics

Of course, a little research goes a long way when first purchasing your tent. Ask your friends and family who have camping experience which brand they use and prefer. Go to many of the different sporting goods stores and even shop around online a little bit before settling into any one choice.

Camping tents come in various shapes and sizes:

* 2-person tent
* Family tent
* Dome tents
* Stand up tents

A great idea is to look into food tents once you have made up your mind which sleeping tent you want. Food tents can protect and preserve food against weather and animals as well. Keeping your food safely tucked away and far away from your sleeping quarters is an excellent idea.


Once you have selected what size and style tent you desire, it is a good idea to purchase sleeping bags that are warm and waterproof. Also, think about buying a blow up mattress for those in your party who do not like “roughing it” as much. Pillows are another thought for comfortable sleeping.

Make certain to take along extra thermal blankets and sleeping bags to cover up in. It can get extremely cold up in many campsites, especially those surrounded by mountains.

Camping Cookware

The location of your campsite will dictate how much and what to bring. If you are close to a food supply store, you can pack a little lighter. However, if you are really roughing it, you can always bring along canned and dehydrated food just in case.

Camping: The Great Outdoors and the Basics

* Camping stove with fuel and lighter or if you are bringing your barbecue, then charcoal, matches, and lighter fluid
* Frying pan with a lid (I suggest investing in cast iron)
* Pot with a lid
* Cooking skewers
* Can opener
* Tongs for turning sausages and hot dogs
* Spatula for flipping burgers (We find using long handled BBQ utensils work best when cooking over the fire etc)

Of course paper plates, napkins, and utensils and cooking foil are a must, along with plastic cups. Don’t forget to bring tons of water.


Camping: The Great Outdoors and the Basics

You will also need to bring some extra miscellaneous items with you that you may not have thought of originally:

* Lanterns
* Flashlights
* Batteries
* Bug spray
* Sunscreen
* Flyswatters
* Garbage bags
* Soap, sponges, and scrubbers for dishes and a basin to wash stuff in
* Camping chairs
* A sewing kit
* Toiletries including toilet paper
* A car or solar battery charger for your cell phone

These are just the basics to get you started on your camping adventure.

Real Honest-to-Goodness Camping

For many families, camping includes a long list of things to bring – everything from tweezers to your iPad. However, real honest-to-goodness camping requires very little. If you are seeking the real camping experience, there are some things you need to know and a lot of things you can leave behind.

Camping: The Great Outdoors and the Basics

Real, honest-to-goodness camping requires a bit of bravery and a lot of determination to pull off, but once you have gone camping with a minimal amount of stuff, you may never go back to long lists and over-packing again.

Sleeping Gear

This type of camping requires very little in the way of sleeping gear. A tent and a sleeping bag should be sufficient. Of course, if you are camping in the dead of winter on top of a mountain, common sense prevails and you need more than just that. However, if you are going to try camping with a minimal approach, then a tent, a sleeping bag, and perhaps a plastic tablecloth for the ground will give you a grounded effect.

Food and Water

Camping in this way does not require much in the way of food. Some simple recipes such as chili, hot dogs, rice, and beans should suffice. There are tons of ways to bring along dehydrated foods as well. Dehydrated foods last longer, taste just fine, and you can find them in many places. There are also many varieties sold.

Camping: The Great Outdoors and the Basics

For real basic camp food, however, fishing and eating your catch is the best way to go. Of course, if you are not experienced in fishing, you may want to bring your dehydrated supplies and canned chili along for the ride.


Cooking over the campfire without the use of a camping stove or barbecue gives the real effect of down-to-earth camping.

Camping: The Great Outdoors and the Basics
Yum! Food cooked over an open fire always tastes the best, don’t you think?

Water is something that you should bring along in excess. You never know if you will need it for drinking, cooking, or washing up. Never go camping without extra water; even if you want to get the real effect of down to earth camping, you can put it in a canteen.


Camping: The Great Outdoors and the Basics

Hiking boots and lots of layers of clothing are necessary. Even if you strip down the layers as you go along your day, it is better to have layers than bulky camping clothing that is too heavy for daytime use.


If you want to feel like a real camper, matches for your campfire, newspapers to help get it going and lighter fluid are necessary. Keep some flashlights and extra batteries in your vehicle just in case, but leave them there in order to get the full effect of camping.

Homemade materials such as oatmeal and aspirin for bee stings and bug bites are great to have around. Bring some rope; you never know when you might need it. Other essentials include toilet paper, homemade bug repellent, sunscreen, and an axe for wood chopping.

There you have it – the basics for real honest-to-goodness camping.

I hope you and your family enjoy some camping adventures this summer!

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Camping: How to plan and pack for your summer camping adventures!

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