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Gearing Up for Spring Camping

This last weekend was our American Heritage Girls Fall camping extravaganza.  Because I am who I am, I only attended the Saturday festivities with my girls.  So there was no sleeping over.  Mostly because this was all-tent camping, and could not accommodate the Class A Diesel Motorhome that I wanted to rent for the event.

Yet, I went with an open mind.

Our weather had finally taken a turn for the cooler (PRAISE THE LORD GOD ON HIGH) so the nights had been down right chilly.  Supporting my no-camping stance.

However, when we arrived at the campsite Saturday morning, I was delightfully surprised to find that NO ONE HAD DIED FROM CAMPING OVERNIGHT.  In fact, everyone looked like they were having a wonderful time.  Even the adults.

I admit that I was highly dismayed to discover that there wasn’t a single coffee pot in the entirety of the camp.  Not even in the kitchen, which was the only source of electrical outlets.  (And by kitchen, it was a room with running water.  No stove.  No fridge.  No 9 inch television from which to watch HGTV.)

One other mom made mention of the mass exodus that occurred early in the a.m. of parents in search of caffeine.

My girls participated in the activities and were involved in the Court of Honor where they finally earned their Joining Award and a Patch each.  And during my time there, I made it a personal mission to really check into this phenomenon known as Camping With Children.

Because, hold onto your coffee mugs, I’m determined to join the ranks of People Who Camp With Children for the Spring campout. (I’ll probably make the inaugural trip with just my girls.)

Our AHG leader is AMAZING in that she plans and buys all the food needed for the weekend for All The Meals.  Each family is responsible only for their own drinks and snacks.  And extra-strength Tylenol.

I will appoint myself in charge of coffee.  Somehow, some way, I’ll make that happen.  Because camping should never involve unnecessary torture.

I’m looking into tents, taking stock of my blow up mattresses, and searching for a battery operated heating blanket.

Fiddledaddy is so excited about my change of heart that he’s trying to talk me into taking our December Disney vacation at the Fort Wilderness Campground.  And I’ll admit that it is a somewhat attractive idea.  The money we would save would pay for the therapy I would need after camping with ALL of my children and calling it a vacation.

Now, because I have to obsess over an idea for MONTHS before acting on it, I wanted to ask you all to give me any and all camping tips that you can come up with.

I will be taking copious camping notes.


30 Responses to Gearing Up for Spring Camping

  • I camped outdoors a lot as a kid but only once *with* my kids. I was showing them how to roast over a fire on a thin metal rod (skewer type rod), and how to hold it so that you don’t burn yourself. So of course I gave myself the worst burn I’ve ever had in my life. I didn’t think to take anything in the first aid kit for burns that I could use so the only thing I had with me was oil of olay regenerist (sp?). I kid you not, that stuff didn’t just take care of the burn but it healed a lot quicker than my doctor said it would.

    Anyway, my rambled point is to take a well stocked first aid kit. Don’t think just scrapes or bug bites but include bandages, allergy type meds, upset stomach meds, …. On that same trip our daughter reacted to the sun screen we’d bought but luckily, we had benadryl packed in the kit.

    Oh, and I don’t know why I had the oil of olay stuff with me. Accidental packing I guess as I’d never actually used it before then.

  • You know Fort Wilderness has cabins too – and they are fantastic!! Just a thought . . .


    I KNOW! That’s where we usually stay and I LOVE LOVE LOVE them. Sadly, we didn’t book our reservation in time, so we got a reservation at the All Star Movie hotel with a “suite.” Suite is just a fancy way of saying they opened up a wall and it’s really 2 normal rooms with a microwave. With a party of 5, we can’t just cram into one room. Otherwise, we would. 🙂


  • I could write a book on camping. We’ve done it so many times in tents, trailers and motorhomes. We’ve always used large plastic tubs to organize our gear and I just labeled what went into each box. Take flashlights, extra toilet paper for those nighttime bathroom runs (no pun intended). An air matress inflator that works on both 12v and 110 power is great for getting the air in and out of those air matresses.
    The list is probably too long to post. Somewhere on my blog under Arkansas ATV trip there are some pictures of how to make coffee when you don’t have a coffee pot…only beer cans..lol.
    E-mail me…I’ll be glad to answer your questions.

  • “Keep away from the sides of the tent!” (said during any amount of rain).

    There is one thing to be said about camping — no-one ever walks away without at least one grand story!

    Gotta love it.

  • Don’t camp in the rain. I am most definitely NOT a camping fan. So no wonderful tips here!

  • Don’t do it!

    Sorry, another non-camper here and my kids are totally on their own if they decide to take up any such activity! 😉


  • Do not under any circumstances keep food in your tent. Because raccoons have opposable thumbs and they *love* fried pies. In my defense, I didn’t know that they cooler I moved out of the car into the tent earlier contained any actual food and the raccoons managed to get in and grab the pies without waking us up. They were so considerate, until they started into those pies and the resulting sugar high caused them to throw a loud, raucous, midnight party right outside the tent.

    In spite of the adventures (or maybe because of them), we love to camp and go as often as we can as a family. It’s definitely a cheap way to vacation and there’s nothing better than sitting around a campfire roasting marshmallows and telling stories.

  • We made our first ever family camping trip this summer. It was the first time I had been camping in a LONG time, and the first time I was ever the one responsible for anything.

    First, we forgot the tent and had to turn around to go get it. On the way home to get the tent, I realized we had not packed blankets or pillows for ourselves. I was so concerned to have everything for the kids that we forgot blankets for ourselves. Ridiculous.

    I did remember to pack a kettle for water, coffee mugs, sugar, creamer, sweet n low, and a spoon to stir. But I forgot the COFFEE.

    Luckily, we had some veteran campers next to us that had plenty of coffee to share. They actually salvaged our weekend by giving us dry wood (in the pouring rain) and lighter fluid(another necessity we forgot to pack). I highly reccomend bringing your own firewood. The stuff they sell at campgrounds burns really really fast and is very very expensive.

  • Now is the time to be checking Target and WalMart for tents on sale. We bought our 3 dome tent at WalMart this time last year for $25 it was regularly $100. It’s nice, the domes attach and is fairly easy to set up. Well at least it has been easy to watch them set it up. It does not however, come with an outlet for a coffee pot. Still working on that.

  • as a child in Girl Scouts, we camped out several times and, as a child, I remember it as a WONDERFUL time. Even the time a pack of hunting dogs chased a fox through our camp, and about an hour later a tornado came through. Really. The adults were hysterical and the kids were in heaven. But, anyhoo, as an adult my idea of any vacation from home is room service. When my kids were small they loved to camp out in the back yard and we had a nice tent at one time. I would say, make sure to find a nice-smelling insect repellant, good air mattress, ipod and definitely coffee pot.

  • This is a bit on the expensive side, but it will give you a luxury pot of caffeine in the middle of nowhere. Just remember to use corse ground coffee and take your own water. Sometimes camp water tastes nasty (of course, not at Disney.)


  • bring wine……purely for medicinal reasons…. 😉

  • “Now, because I have to obsess over an idea for MONTHS before acting on it” LOL.

    No camping advice here–haven’t been camping since little ones invaded my house.

  • Sorry…I totally hate camping out unless it is a fully stocked cabin. BUT I have ventured out on the rare occasion and lived to tell about it.
    My advice: Don’t drink a lot. Because then you’ll have to pee. And then you have to go out in the woods..usually by yourself while you do your business….AND the whole time, if you are like me, you will be thinking about all the wild animals that could attack you when your defenses are down so to speak… Hey, I’m just sayin’.

  • We love camping, though I hate the packing it involves. My suggestions would be a battery-operated blow up mattress, keep all food in your vehicle or in air tight tubs inside your tent, and I would second the wine (but there is no wine allowed at an AHG function, sorry). Haha

    The kids enjoy riding their bikes around the campsites too. Oh, and we use one of those little potties during those middle-of-the-night bathroom runs. It’s nice not to have to walk all the way to the bathrooms.

    Can’t wait to hear all of the stories!

  • My only piece of advice is to buy Starbucks Via coffee. It is the best instant coffee EVER! It is new and STRONG and wonderful. It disolves in cold and hot water. Costco carries the Columbia blend which is on the milder side. But you can get the Columbia and Italian roast, which is bolder, at Starbucks. And no, I don’t work for Starbucks. Coffee is just really important to me and I like to know that I have it in any and all places. A friend of mine is in Uganda, Africa for two months and we sent two pkgs with her so she was sure to get her morning fix. Hope it helps.

  • P.S. You could probably stock up on the via and sell it to the other parents needing a fix. An incentive to go camping!

  • I LOVE camping! My family however, does not enjoy it as much as I do. Maybe we should do one of those swaps for a week…or not. I do have a lot of camping tips. More than a comments worth. I’ll have to compile them into an email for you. This past summer we camped at Indiana Beach. I will say that as long as there is electricity, there can be coffee! One time my husband (dear man that he is) walked to the water pump, filled the coffee maker, and then walked the 1/4 mile to the only outlet in our area of the campground and sat there and waited for the coffee to brew. He also burned himself sloshing the hot coffee on his hand on the 1/4 mile trek back, but it was worth it to have me properly caffeinated. Happy Camping 😉

  • I am not a camper. I consider a hotel with no continental breakfast to be “roughing” it. That said, our small group Bible study was way into family camping. We went together a couple of times and EVEN I had a great time. My girls were 3 & 5 at the time, and they loved it so much. They were completely pooped out by the end of the day, and slept amazingly well.

    My advice is baby wipes (for cleaning hands, faces, etc without having to go to the bathrooms). Hand sanitizer. If you’ve really never camped, don’t forget a tarp that goes under the tent to keep the bottom of the tent dry (I wouldn’t have known – my dad told me). Bring a bunch of towels. You’ll need them to clean off wet chairs, great to keep one outside or just inside the tent for shoes. Rubbermaid totes are great for packing & keeping your supplies in. If I think of more, I’ll be back.

  • I remember camping… (I don’t do spiders and bugs) and you would think my husband would know this by now. I try to tell them this… (why do people think it imperative that we experience [again] something we know we do not enjoy?!) So, I packed the largest can of Lysol I could find and sprayed anything that crawled or flew within a ten foot radius of anywhere I went.
    Mother Nature took a hike far, far away. Lysol rules.

  • I just heard a pastor recently telling that the best parenting advice he ever received was going on camping trips. His kids are grown now, and those were the best memories they had, even though they were messy & disasterous. So, maybe there is some method in that madness 🙂

  • worst case get yourself a power inverter for the cig lighter in your vehicle. then waaa la….a plug for the coffee maker.

    my biggest tip is pack everything that you think you need and then take half of it away.

  • You are simply amazing. My idea of “roughing it” (aka camping) is the Super 8 instead of the Hilton.

    One cannot understate the need for air mattresses. The ground is just darn uncomfortable. And don’t forget the down comforters.

    Coffee, cowboy coffee is best and you can make it over a camp fire. Metal coffee pot (not thermos), water and coffee grounds. Yummy!!

  • I have done all forms of “camping” from log cabins/motor coaches to hard core carry everything on your back and canoe in where no other human is. The only way to have a good packing list is to ask somebody who has camped there before. For example on a “real” trip you gotta carry it in/out so pack VERY light. When you’re going with the kids and the car is right there—bring everything: first aid kits, extra snacks, tums, blankets, a hidden dollop of medicinal wine-I mean cough syrup, etc…As far as the “why” well, if you go somewhere people haven’t gone, you’ll see things other people haven’t seen. I’ve seen wildlife up close, like a moose with her calf, and northern lights so bright it looked like the entire sky was burning up in psychdelic fire. I’ve tasted water so pure you can scoop up a cup right out of a lake and drink it. If you get past the bugs (think DEET and LOTS of it!) and sleeping on the ground– the pay off is memories that last a lifetime and occasionally sights few people will ever see. Good luck!

  • Seriously, no coffee maker??? What were they thinking, oh wait clearly they weren’t

  • One thing we do is take a large box of those dry baby wash cloths – the ones that you run under the faucett to get them to soap up. It’s so much neater than bars of soap and wash cloths.
    I also always take the coffee pot. Even when we tent camp we have outlets and running water at our site. I also take the roaster oven ( you can bake anything in there that you can make in an oven ) and I take our crock pot. We do still grill, but I take the other appliances as well.

  • OK first off they have mobile homes at Ft. Wilderness, so seriously, you don’t have to really “CAMP” there. And those mobile home thingies? They have coffeemakers in them. Or at least plugs. SO there you go. My one and only camping tip.

    Oh, wait, I have 2! Take a flask. You never know when you might need some Jack Daniels. For medicinal purposes. Like pouring on gaping wounds and snakebites, of course.

  • I have an idea for your camping trip. To reward yourself and supply the coffee, you should hire the Cosmic Cafe coffee bar. It is a decked out airstream that supplies fancy coffee drinks. I believe they supply the greater Orlando and Armpit area. It might get you through the weekend.

  • All you need for coffee is an aluminum stove top percolator, which can also be used over a fire. Brews very nice coffee and you can find a ton on vintage ones on etsy (we have my grandmother’s one and it works fantastically).