There is “roughing it” with only a backpack … to a primitive campsite … to a campground with bathrooms and showers … to a campsite with water and electricity … to an RV park … and everywhere in between. What I might have endured in my younger years is not something I am willing to do now even though I love being outdoors. Camping with children complicates everything exponentially but is worth it for those willing to forego ease for family bonding time.
I am all about simplicity and gearing everything toward the purpose of the trip, but I also like some “luxuries.” You can bring as little or as much stuff as you want. But don’t compromise for the sake of convenience: if you hate plastic ware … be willing to wash your eating utensils. If you don’t normally eat junk food … plan meals that are healthy even if it requires more work.
Something I love about camping is the relaxed mindset: there is no schedule to worry about. There is nothing you have to do. Sleep if you are tired, eat if you are hungry, catch fireflies if you are bored, have marathon game sessions, stay up late and guess the constellations, wake up early and meditate in the silence, go for a walk … the simplicity allows you to be totally in the moment.
I personally love camping near water: a lake or a river to swim in makes for less nastiness if a shower isn’t possible.
It’s great also if there is electricity: otherwise my daughter and her friend wouldn’t have been able to charge their phones and iPods and things would have not been so happy for them <or me>. Have books and writing pads available in case there is no electricity … and card and board games as well. I also liked the convenience of an electric skillet instead of having to drag out <and clean> a camp stove. But that’s just me …
Food choices: you can either plan and prepare food at home <pre-cut veggies, tuna salad, brownies etc> or you can bring pre-packaged food like bagels and muffins and cereal and cold cuts or peanut butter and jelly and not plan on cooking meals on a camp stove or open fire. Or you can choose to bring the arsenal of kitchen items needed to cook elaborate camp meals. It’s all a choice on how easy / healthy / time-consuming you want food prep to be. Bring a grate so you can cook over the open fire. Make s’mores for a special treat. Most of all: make it fun!
· Clean up and consolidate as you go
· It’s nice to have running water available
· Wash, re-think, re-sort, put everything away ASAP in special camp tubs
· Make <or revise> your list for next time <add things you forgot this time>
· Air mattresses save your back … bring sheets if you want added luxury
· Bring extra tarps for under the tent and to place over the table in case it rains
· Plan ahead of time what you will need so you don’t forget anything
· Keep food locked up in your cars at night so the critters won’t get into it
· Bring a first aid kit … include Benadryl just in case
· Note to self: bring a hammock next time
Bring a brush and dishpan to clean inside the tent … and have a mat outside the tent door
· Bring a rope to use for a clothesline to dry things that get wet
· Interactive customizable checklist: http://www.thepetersengraph.com/camping/
· or you can get camping checklists online … there are dozens