Someone New to Camping asked for Advice by
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>If you are going car camping it’s really easy because weight is not an issue. Here’s where convenience comes into play. Canned goods are your friend. You can take cans of things that just heat and eat for a good dinner, say for instance chili or tamales. When I heat up a can of soup I don’t necessarily add water, the thicker version is stew like, delicious and quite filling. There are canned things you might not usually use that make great breakfasts. Canned new potatoes and Vienna sausages make a delicious breakfast, or just bring canned corned beef hash. Butter an English muffin and toast it over the fire with a stick, or lay it butter side down in a frying pan to grill it. Yum. I use tins of condensed milk in cereal, coffee, cooking. If you plan you won’t even need to bring an ice chest with things like raw eggs or the mess of melting ice. Remember to bring gallons of clean drinking water. Some folks get themselves dehydrated just because they want to avoid using rustic bathro
om facilities. Not smart. If you are not a big water drinker you can bring flavorings like punch and tea, hot chocolate and instant coffee. Personally, I love to spoil myself with pre-made bottles of flavored coffee and croissants for a camping breakfast.
>Also great are packages of dehydrated foods. Think macaroni and cheese and then branch out. Tuna Helper is a cinch. Who says Hamburger Helper has to have hamburger? Try chopping up some tinned roast beef into it. I have used dehydrated hash browns in different ways. For a fancy treat there’s smoked salmon, individually wrapped cheese wedges and dates. If you really want to pinch pennies there are ways to make your own dehydrated foods, but I wouldn’t count on them on your first couple of camping trips while you are getting used to so many new things. Pancake mix and instant oatmeal packets and cookies are staples. You start walking up and down the grocery aisles with new eyes.
>If you are really new to this it might be a good idea to look at library books or do some online research. It doesn’t take long to come across someone’s checklist of stuff to pack. These can really help you to remember the can opener or steel wool for dish washing or whatever until you develop your own list. In addition to a first aid kit, what might really come in handy, say aspirin, allergy pills, antacids, anti diarrhea pills, sunscreen? I’d go crazy without one of my favorite things to keep in the camp kitchen, a spray bottle with water that has a touch of alcohol in it. I spray my hands and dry them on a paper towel fairly frequently. Know the rules of the place you are camping in. What is the fee, the firewood situation? Will you want to keep all food and garbage inside the car at night to discourage wild animals from ransacking the camp? I have a personal bias about camping. I think it should be a phone free zone. One does not need entertainment beyond hiking, playing in t
he creek, observing wildlife. OK, maybe one book per person, but don’t let ring tones interrupt the sounds of the forest.
>Depending upon the age of the kids, let them be involved in the ‘work’ of setting up camp. Teach them how to start a fire without matches, to camp and leave no trace, observe the plants without picking them, no speck of garbage left behind. It takes a bit of practice but you start becoming increasingly comfortable in the great outdoors. Your family will probably develop it’s own traditions. Maybe paper plates and bowls are great and dirty dishes go into the campfire but everyone has chosen their own metal drinking cup from a thrift store. Everyone must have a hat. Certain family stories always get told. After the kids go to bed we pull out the bottle and put some peppermint schnapps in our hot chocolate. This will give you a great excuse to give one another camping and survival stuff for many upcoming gift giving holidays. Go for quality. The quality is remembered long after the price is forgotten.

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Characterizations: right on!


  1. John Zussman says:

    Thanks for the useful advice. I hope you get a chance to write up some of the camping stories where you learned all this!

  2. Susan says:

    Flavored coffee and croissants. I would *almost* sleep in a tent if that were the prize the following morning.

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