This past weekend my husband, Dale and I decided to take a short getaway to help us relax and enjoy life so we decided to go camping. The North Georgia mountains are only an hour away from our home so it’s an easy drive to make to get away from the hustle and bustle of daily life.
We got there early and started setting up camp. Soon the tent was up and we were sitting by a nice roaring campfire sipping on a long deserved glass of chilled chardonnay.
Although the campsites are wooded and far enough away from each other to allow for some privacy, we couldn’t help but notice a young couple at the campsite across from us attempt to make a fire. After a while my amusement turned to sympathy because it was starting to get dark as well as a little chilly.
I watched them crumple up little pieces of paper and dried leaves to get a fire going. They would get it set up, lite it, blow on it to make it smolder, and then it would go out.
Finally I told Dale that we needed to help them out or else they were going to be miserable all night. Now, I love the simplicity of primitive camping (no electricity, no water, etc.) but I am not foolish enough to think that I can create a fire with a piece of flint and some sticks. I’m much smarter than that…I had fire-starter logs. We took some over to them and within minutes they had a fire competing with ours.
In the morning the girl, Katie came by our campsite and thanked us profusely for helping them out. She said that they hadn’t been camping in years so they didn’t have the slightest clue what to bring. She looked around our campsite said “Wow – you really are organized with your camp stuff!!”
I explained that after years of camping and forgetting this and that, I put together three containers which I keep things that we ONLY use for camping. After each trip we make a list of the things we used up and need more of, and other items are washed and put back in the containers until the next trip. That way we don’t ever end up camping without fire starter logs. I told her that I also keep a “camping list” on my phone, which she asked me to share…so here goes:
1) Tent. I am sure that even the most inexperienced camper can figure out why you would need this. The only exception would be if you have a camper. If you have one, don’t forget to bring that.
2) Tarp to go under the tent. This helps eliminate condensation on the floor of the tent, keeping your stuff from getting wet.
3) Air mattress. This isn’t a necessity, but it certainly makes camping more comfortable. The ground can get colder than you think.
4) Air pump for blowing up the air mattress. And don’t forget the batteries.
5) Sleeping bags. My husband is hotter than a meteor (I’m sure he’ll love that analogy, but his body temperature is really hot and keeps me warm when it’s cold outside) so we take sheets and blankets instead of individual sleeping bags so I can snuggle up and keep my feet warm.
7) Table canopy. I personally do not like things to fall in my food so we bring a tarp (or one of those pop-up canopy’s that you use when you’re tailgating) to go over the table.
8) Cooler. (I make a list of food we are going to eat and then pack accordingly.) Don’t forget the ice!
9) Camp stove. If you have ever had a full breakfast when you’re camping, then you know why you want to bring a camp stove. Scrambled eggs, bacon, hashbrowns, & toast have never tasted so good!
10) Pots, pans & utensils.
11) Propane (or whatever fuel your stove calls for.)
12) Paper plates & bowls. (Don’t forget coffee cups if you expect to have coffee in the morning!) Just toss them in the fire when you’re done eating!
13) Charcoal and lighter fluid. Most camp sites have designated fire pits which double as a grill so you won’t need to bring your Weber, just bring the charcoal. (I also use foil over the grill because who knows what’s been cooked there.)
14) Folding chairs to sit by the fire. I have a deathly fear of spiders and granddaddy long-legs…and if you end up sitting on the ground to enjoy your fire, then be prepared because these bugs tend to enjoy the fire while sitting on YOU.
15) Lantern or flashlights. We also have head lamps which makes it nice when going to the bathroom in the middle of the night, or just reading a book in bed.
16) Towels. If your camp site has running water and shower facilities.
17) Your clothes. Check the weather beforehand and pack appropriately.
18) Gallon jugs of water. If your campsite doesn’t have water, you will want this to make food, clean cookware, and just to wash your hands. Camping can get dirty.
19) Firewood and fire starter logs. I am going camping to have fun – not to prove that I could be on “Survivor” therefore, I am going to go the easy route and bring along something that makes starting a fire as simple as the flick of a Bic. (On a side note, be aware that many Federal and State campgrounds have incredibly HIGH penalties for cutting down branches and trees for firewood. BRING YOUR OWN!!!)
a) Trash bags
c) Hammer (to knock in the tent stakes)
d) Scrub brush & dish soap
e) Hand soap
h) Table cloth
j) Grill utensils
k) Ziplock bags
m) Baby wipes. You can use these if you can’t shower but need to clean up a bit
n) Cards or small board games
o) Citronella candle
p) Pepper spray. (This one is important. Most Federal and State parks have rules about bringing in firearms…you can’t…so the thought of being in a fabric house with a zippered door always makes me a little nervous so we keep pepper spray within arms reach)
q) Toilet paper. When you’ve gotta go, you’ve gotta go…Just watch where you squat. Those three leaved bandits are poison ivy and take it from me, you don’t want poison ivy on your butt.
The key is to figure out what type of camping you want to do. If you’re primitive camping then you will need to bring more items than if you are camping where there is electricity and running water. If you’re hiking the Appalachian Trail then you don’t need this list or you will need to bring along some pack mules to carry it all for you.
Or if you are like many of my friends then you will just need to check into the local Ritz Carlton because that’s as close as you’re ever going to get to camping.
In any case, enjoy!
Do you enjoy camping? Share your story!