Tips for Non Camping Folks

Drip. Splat. Smatter. Smatter.

“Peggy, are you awake?”

Oh, I was awake. I was trying to recollect if there were large tree branches above our tent.

The wind gusts were blowing the side of the tent 3 feet inward, and the rain was coming down in giant precipitations. Not a stutter between drops.

Carlton: “Lets go sleep in the van. It’s ok. ”

Me: “I’m fine, are you ok?”

Carlton: “I’m ok, are you warm enough? ”

This was our conversation at some point in the dark part of night. And yes I was warm enough. I was warm enough because apparently I had taken the entire heating pad and had my face on it through my sleeping bag. Which brings me to a little something I like to call Camping Tips for Non Camping Folks, such as myself.

  • Warmth is a key component. Core layering is a must. Something warm and breathable and somewhat skin hugging. I wear a tank top (over a sports bra), then a shirt (usually a camp host shirt) then fleece, then either a vest or something that cuts the wind like Carlton’s crazy expensive wool jacket that he got for free from a French restaurant owner. That wool jacket cuts all the wind, keeps in the warmth, and keeps out the rain. Score for wool jackets. The fleece is soft and cozy and I have slept in my work fleece every night since I arrived. I’m saving for that Patagonia fleece…
  • Camping is most comfortable with our creature comforts from home. That hot cup of coffee, even though its instant Safeway brand mixed with hot chocolate,will be the best part of your cold day. No. It does not sound great. I guarantee after 3 days of being cold, that ‘coffee’ will be decadent. Do not bring your comforter,coffee pot, or crock pot for your tent. They are big and bulky and lack purpose in a tent. The condensation will soak into your blankets, and leave you with a chill that no hand warmer can compete with. After 7 days in a tent, we traded in cuddling for two sleeping bags side by side. That storm last night was not important to me because I was warm for the first time, at night, in a week.
  • Electric heaters and fleece blankets. Necessary. The heater brought our tent temperature from 43 degrees to 52 degrees. That is a huge leap of warmth. 52 degrees does not sound warm until you have experienced the saddening(maddening?) cold of 43 degrees. The value is all relative. Eventually, you will think you are warm.
  • If you bring an air mattress, which I suggest, remember to put a layer of warmth between you and the mattress. The cold travels upward from the ground, and while you may be toasty on top, your rear is not. (Assuming you sleep on your back.)
  • The small town surrounding your campground may not awaken until 9 am. The gas pumps may not have a credit card machine attached. Plan accordingly.
  • ASK FOR HELP. This one is so important. People want to help, but you have to let out your pride belt and ask. This subject should be an entire other blog. We have received so much help from friends, family, and complete strangers who are now friends.
  • Camping generally means wild animals are nearby, in their natural habitat. They like food. Garbage food, your pets food (your pet), all these things need to be stored inside, preferably in sealed plastic containers. (Do not store your pet in a plastic bin, but keep them close and on a leash that is less than 8ft long.)Brush your teeth away from your tent/sleeping spot. (I learned this nugget of truth yesterday from an experienced camp host couple who hiked the Appalachians.) Bears love toothpaste. It is sweet and good.
  • Pick up your garbage and dispose of it properly. The crows eat everything. Including my citronella candle. If garbage is in the back of your truck, all nicely sealed up on five sides, then you have forgotten the sixth dimension and the crows will decorate the campground.
  • Baby Wipes are awesome for daily clean up. Bring quarters for showers and laundry.
  • Relax. You are on vacation. Read a book, talk to your kids, go for a walk. This is your time to forget society exists and breathe in all the fresh air you can muster.

Happy Camping

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