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Saturday, July 14, 2012

Camping Preparedness Program

We are going camping. (Way to state the obvious!) We have only gone camping one to two nights with the kids so far to try it out. They LOVE it! But luckily, my hubby and I are both seasoned campers and between the two of us had all the necessary gear before we were even married. I am guilt of being a long time Girl Scout and my hubby is an Eagle Scout. Since we don’t have a camper (on the wish list for the future) we set up a couple tents, a shade and a stove and call it a campsite.

This isn’t exactly a program. More like a checklist and my method of preparing for the great outdoors without pulling your hair out or missing essentials. There are several things you need regardless of whether you have kids or not, but I’ll list kid stuff separately. I began writing this just for myself because I didn’t want to forget anything. But I think other people could benefit from this too!

The thing about camping if you have never done it; there is dirt everywhere outside. Campsites are plotted parking spaces of dirt with a BBQ, fire pit and picnic table. Make sure you pick a site next to the bathroom; it will make the experience much nicer. Most bathroom houses also have showers.  Find out what the amenities are ahead of time. Basketball court? Swimming pool? So you can plan.

I am a list person. When preparing for any trip I use up several sheets of paper on lists. Maybe I should make a master to save me the trouble… 

I have a list for camping gear, clothing, shopping list for non-food items and food. First things first.  If you know about the trip there are a couple things you can do to prepare.

1.       Save your laundry lint. This stuff is great (and FREE!). My family of four creates a huge amount of laundry lint. When you take it with you camping, you can use it as a fire starter rather than kindling (or with it) to get your fire started quicker. I found it easy to create portions  by stuffing it in toilet paper rolls.
2.       Save stuff that will come in handy that you can toss before coming home. I save a couple empty gallons containers for dish water. Save soap pieces (you know the stubs left when you use a bar?); you can cut up an old pantyhose and stick the old soap in the foot for easy hand-washing—this can be tied to a gallon jug of water.
3.       Take inventory. What do you have? What do you think you need as far as a “camping gear”? Kettle? Sleeping Bag? Tent? Rope? Old pans? Outdoor chairs? Shade or big beach umbrella?  Also, if you want to use paper plates make sure you have them. You will want to either eat off of metal, paper or plastic (metal and plastic need to be washed). This is a good time to start a grocery list.
4.       Meal Plan. Think easy to make on a fire (kids love holding a hot dog on a stick), things you can make ahead of time (like coleslaw, salsa & chex mix), and things don’t require a lot of time. I don’t usually buy individual servings of apple sauce or juice boxes but they come in handy here. Take another inventory of what you have and then another grocery list of what you need. I separate my lists into stores Walmart, Trader Joes, Costco and Farmer’s Market.

On to the Lists.

Basic necessities to bring:
Toilet paper (not fun when they run out)
Bug spray
Dish soap
Food and Water (bathing suit if you are going to be by a lake/stream/ocean)
Charcoal and/or firewood
First aid kit
Cards or other games

Camping Gear:
Tent, tarp and mat (set the tarp under the tent and the mat for the ground outside of the tent to catch dirty shoes)
Shade - if necessary
Kitchen items—Propane stove, kettle, pan, utensils, ziplock bags, foil
Fire sticks (really long wire hangers to cook hot dogs or marshmallows)
2 tubs (for washing dishes—one for washing, one for rinsing)
Clothesline for towels—use towels to dry hands and dishes also if you are taking showers or swimming
Table cloth 
Folding table - it helps to have one table for eating and one for food & dishes
Sleeping bags & pillows
Gas or solar lanterns and flashlights

For the kids (and you):
Extra clothes
Sweatshirt (not a nice jacket. The smoke from the fire gets makes everything smell)
Diaper wipes (great for dirty hands before snacks and dirty feet before bed)
Outdoor toys (trucks, sand toys)

Water and other drinks

This post can also be found at Cheerios and Lattesfrugally Sustainable , One Creative Mommy and tatertotsandjello .