Camping for Rookies: What You Really Need

by Beth Montgomery on June 12, 2011 · 0 comments

in Entertainment & Fun

Photo courtesy of Maggie & The Nuts

The following guest post was written by Maggie of Maggie and the Nuts:

You can’t talk about inexpensive family outing ideas without mentioning camping. Maybe you have already considered a trip yourself. However, packing can seem overwhelming and if you buy everything, it may have been cheaper to go to the beach. Forget the camping super stores, the magazine and blog articles filled with hundreds of camping ideas, and the helpful advice of your neighbor. I’ll tell you the bare minimum a first time camper needs for a successful trip.

Before we talk gear, there are two things to remember:

  1. You’ll be outside. There will be dirt.
  2. You’ll be outside. There will be bugs.

If you are deathly afraid of dirty kids or spiders, camping is not for you. It’s okay to say no and start saving for a resort vacation.

If you can take a little dirt, you can camp. Start with one night at a state park near your home. Indiana State Parks have spots from $8 a night. You won’t feel pressure to stay all night if it’s a total bust.

State Park sites allow you to pull right up to your camping spot so you don’t have to haul your gear. Plus there are restrooms, showers, and usually a store to buy firewood. You won’t have to worry about planning and packing lots of games and crafts to keep your kids busy. Parks offer pools, playgrounds, and trails. In the Hoosier State, different State Parks offer camping near beaches, lakes, caves, creek stomping, waterfalls, horse stables, canoeing, and more.

Photo courtesy of Maggie & The Nuts

With no entertainment to pack, this is The Minimalist Packing List:

Tent. You should have a quality waterproof tent. If you aren’t ready to invest, rent one instead of buying a cheap one. Make sure you use the rain fly. Even if you have a great tent, cancel the trip if it is raining. Camping in the rain is not for beginners.

Sleeping bags. The summer temps are so warm you don’t have to invest in a pricey subarctic bag. In fact, you could just bring pillows and blankets. Fold them all in a laundry basket to easily pack and carry.

Food. Cooking on a camp fire or even those grimy state park grills can be tricky. Plan something easy like hotdogs or food that doesn’t need to be cooked. You could buy a campfire pie iron to toast cheese or PB&J sandwiches. They take a little practice to master, so pack enough sandwiches in case a few burn. Use cooking spray. Do pack lots of water and plenty of snacks. It doesn’t have to be special, just something that won’t melt or spoil.

Small items you should have: bug spray, sunscreen, flashlights, first aid kit (don’t forget tweezers)

Misc. supplies that are nice to have: duct tape, baby wipes, hats or bandanas

About Maggie: Maggie loves to camp with her three nutty kids. She mothers by trial and error and shares her trials and errors at Maggie and the Nuts.

Summer Fun in Indiana

Make sure you check out the Summer Fun in Indiana series for more ways to save this summer on family fun! Enjoy your summer!

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