Fall is here and it is the most amazing time to go camping!! Our family loves camping and we choose to “rough it” by tent camping. Tent camping is an economical way to enjoy the outdoors – it’s like a mini vacation for us. However, if you already own a camper/rv, that would be a great way to go as well.
So let’s get you camping this year!
Where to go?
If you haven’t camped since you were a kid or have never camped, you may not know where to go or even how to find where to go.
Start with your base/post Outdoor Rec department. Not only will they tell you where/if you can camp on base, but they usually have camping equipment available for rent, including campers.
Next, check out your State’s parks. Every state has a State Park or 50. ¬†Some are small and for day hikes only. Others are very large and have extensive activities. There are many in between and most support camping and you can reserve your camping spot online. Be sure you apply the military discount!
A note regarding picking sites online. ¬†No matter how much research you do online, you will not be able to figure out if the site you picked is perfect for you until you get there. If you get to your site and discover it isn’t the most ideal, drive around the site and pick out 3 alternates and then go talk to the Park Ranger and ask if you can switch.
What do you need?
A tent, sleeping bag, clothes (check the weather), toiletries, camp chairs, food and ways to cook and eat the food for each person. ¬†Our camping trips, even in tents, look pretty comfy. We have two large totes that carry our cooking gear, dry foods, utensils. ¬†We also bring a cooler for cold foods and a fold-up table for extra space.
Extras that are nice to have: ¬†We have a pop-up canopy to provide some extra protection from sun or rain.¬†I usually bring a towel for each family member because most campsites have a showering facility and most also have a washer and dryer you can use. If you are camping with children, pack an activity bag that includes age appropriate activities and games or make up your own scavenger hunt, collect leaves, etc.
Most campsites include a grill and a fire ring, so if you don’t want to bring a camp stove or burner, you have the ability to cook on either of those options. We bring an extra tarp to cover the tent in case of heavy rain or to use to provide extra shade. ¬†If we decide to bring our dogs (most parks will allow, but be sure to check all of the regulations), we bring a two-man tent just for them and keep their crates in there to keep them out of the elements.
Most of the campsites offer electric & water hook-ups for camper and tent use. ¬†We bring an extension cord and a portable heater/fan unit and a blow-up mattress that we use power for as well as for charging our electronics.
Weather can definitely be a challenge when camping. Be sure to keep checking the weather and pack appropriately. ¬†Camping during the spring and fall can be tricky because you may have to pack for a wide variance in temps as well as being prepared for rain. Be sure your gear is rated to withstand the temperatures you anticipate experiencing.
What can you do?
Most state parks will have activities of some sort. A day hike, a clean up day, a fishing derby, classes on wildlife, etc. If they don’t offer anything during the time you will be there, do some quick research on the area and plan activities that will be fun and informative.¬†Many places allow you to bring your own horse, boat or atv. Some areas are close to hunting or offer fishing. ¬†There is always something to do while camping, even if it’s just collecting sticks for the evening fire or washing dishes or straightening up camp.
The most important take away when it comes to camping is family time. There are little to no interruptions, you get to relax and get away from the rushing around of normal life, you can meet some really interesting people and you will go home refreshed and ready to tackle whatever life throws at you.