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A Camping We Will Go

It’s a pretty accurate assessment if you were to say that we aren’t exactly camping type people.  Unless, of course, you add “R.V.” in front of it.  For us, roughing it was staying at the cabins at Walt Disney World’s Fort Wilderness.  The cabin with the full kitchen.  And maid service.

For years my girls have been wanting me to take them camping with their American Heritage Girls Fall Camping outing.

I’ve come up with a myriad of excuses.  “We’re really not a camping family.”  “The camp ground doesn’t allow the rock star RV that would be required for me to camp.”  And then last year my all time favorite excuse, “I am not in possession of an all-terrain wheel chair.”

And you know, now that I think about it, isn’t it ironic that a dedicated indoor girl like myself was diagnosed with Lyme Disease?

I mean, seriously.

One thing that has come out of the whole health scare, and then my subsequent road to healing, is that I will never take my health for granted again.  My new mantra is SEIZE THE DAY.

Therefore, I’m taking my girls camping with their scouting troop this weekend.

Yes, my friends, pigs really do fly.

We’ve been researching tents over the last number of weeks, and there was one particular model that both Fiddledaddy and I agreed upon.  And since our vacation budget has been slashed to near nonexistent, we justified the expense of this tent because it will likely be the only way we will be able to stay at Disney World for a long long time.  We won’t be visiting any parks, mind you, but will gladly camp at the Fort Wilderness campground and enjoy all of the perks that has to offer.

Behold, this is what we procured:

It attaches to the back of our van, so that I will be able to use the van as my own personal suite, as I will be lounging on an air mattress in the bed of the van while the seats are all folded down.  If my daughters get on my nerves, I can simply zip up the opening and voila, privacy.  It’s the plexiglass partition, as it were, that I’ve always dreamed of in my mommy van.

We took the tent over to my in-laws house for a test run.  They don’t have any pesky sidewalks or homeowners associations with which to contend.  What we didn’t take into account is that they are close to the beach, and it was a particularly blowy day.  We stationed two children inside to weight it down, as the rest of us held onto each of the 4 corners with all of our might.  When we had just about gotten the thing up, we noticed a beautiful double rainbow in the sky.

A good omen?

And then it began to rain.

We discovered that we could disassemble our new tent in 43 seconds flat, as visions of premature mold and mildew danced in our heads.  Prior to even being able to sleep in it.

It should be noted that it is now drying in my front room of our house.

I’m now preparing my mental checklist of what items will be needed.  Most of the meals will be provided for in this 3 day/2 night extravaganza, but we need to bring our own snacks and beverages.  Which may or may not include a flask.

I’ve borrowed 3 sleeping bags, and will be checking our air mattresses for unseemly leaks.  I plan on buying a battery operated lantern and am gathering all flashlights.  And Fiddledaddy has already purchased me some bug repellant that makes me smell like a dead fir tree.  I’m pretty sure it contains deer urine.  Which I’d like to know just how they extract that from the deer.  But then again, no, ignorance is bliss.

Yes, there are REAL BATHROOMS, PRAISE YOU BABY JESUS.  I have friends that when they say they are camping, they mean that they hike in 2 miles with backpacks and shovels.

I call that Extreme Camping and want no part of it.

I’m asking all of you camping type friends to lay your best camping advice on me!  Please, leave no stone unturned.

25 Responses to A Camping We Will Go

  • Never keep any food of any variety in the tent or outside the tent – it will attract animals. In your case since the tent is attached to the van, maybe you should store any food in somebody else’s car. Now I don’t suppose Florida has any problems with things like bears.

  • Make sure you spray your tent with camp dry, just encase it decides to sprinkle rain. It’s always nice to have a tarp set up over your tent. Yes, I have endured very wet and rainy camping trips in a tent. LOL

  • As a city girl who hates camping, I found myself married to an avid camper who loves to camp in the middle of no-where. As in no flushing toilets, and his idea of running water is a stream. So I’ve (unfortunately) learned a few tips. The bug spray is a must, and I’m trying to convince him to invest in one of those bee suits for me to keep all bugs away. If you are fortunate enough to have nearby showers, it is helpful to have a tote bag or something to put the towels, clean clothes etc. in to hang on a hook in the shower. Take flip flops to wear in the shower…. Also, don’t let anything touch the sides of the tent because if it rains, that’s where the water will come in at. But seriously, if you can get past the dirt and bugs, it can be pretty enjoyable. Have fun!

  • I agree with Linda’s comment. Don’t forget to spray the seams of the tent. Rain and soggy sleeping bags makes for a not so good vacation. Have fun and I can hardly wait to hear the stories that come from this adventure!

  • Speaking as one of those outdoorsy kinda manly men that lives for camping out in the high desert of Big Bend for a week or so…baby wipes. Lots of ’em, you’ll need them for more than you can imagine now, and pretty much every hour or minute depending on what you find yourself in the middle of…

    • One more thing, bring the flushable kind because they’re biodegradable and if one does gets away, you won’t stay up all night worrying over ruining God’s creation for the next few millenia…

  • Depending on how the tent is constructed a tarp under the tent will help prevent ground moisture from coming up. Just make sure all the edges are folded under the tent or it becomes a pool if it rains. I third doing your own waterproofing of the tent. Definitely do the seams.

  • We bought a Coleman lantern that can be recharged by your car battery. It has a little night light too. It is called the Coleman Rugged Rechargeable Family-size Lantern. I highly recommend it.

  • Find the nearest Marriott. That’s all I got.

    • Well darn, Kayla, you took away the only piece of advice I had to give. However, looks like I may have made a new camping buddy 🙂 Nice to meet ya!!

  • Oh, you make me laugh.

    I get teased considerably by hubby. Eating alfresco, I was reminded, is “in the out-of-doors”. I am NOT in any way outdoorsy. There are bugs and dirt, and I’m not in favor. BUT I see myself having to be ‘in the out-of-doors” on a camping trip with my daughter as she camps with HEr AHG troop.

    Keep us up to date on how things go. I’m sure I will need to get pointers from one who has gone before!

  • My dad always puts a tarp or large sheet of plastic down under the tent. Apparently it helps keep the ground moisture out of the tent floor. Maybe that’s Camping 101, I don’t know. I guess it wouldn’t have just occurred to me. Also, a rug or a towel inside the tent is nice for taking dirty/sandy shoes off and keeping the outdoor mess somewhat contained.

  • Seriously y’all, I’ve got a post-it note program on my desktop, and I’m making a list and checking it twice. KEEP IT COMING! Thank you!

  • You will have a blast with your daughters and their friends! Here are some things I learned when I started to camp with my cub scout (now a Life Scout, one step shy of Eagle). I was not out doorsy and still don’t think of myself that way although I ahve been camping for 10 years now!

    Even though you are “car camping”, don’t over pack. You will tend to keep the same clothes on for a good portion of the weekend and then you will have less to clean when you get home. Put on clean, dry socks prior to going to bed, and wear a cap if the tempurature drops. Disposable handwarmers are terrific! The tarp is important, as is not getting into the tent with your shoes on. Sieze the day, go with the flow and have a blast! These are memories that your girls will have for a long time! Hugs!

  • Take a small whisk broom to keep just inside the door for when the inevitable happens and someone forgets to take their shoes off. Forget bug spray. Go to the camping area of Walmart and buy the insect wipes. They work just as well and aren’t as messy. If you find yourself camping in warm weather, Walmart carries battery operated fans in the camping area. They are great to have on hand for power outages and to use when camping. Have a great time!

  • I married into a camping family 17 years ago, and I still don’t enjoy it, but I do it every year! The biggest thing I had to let go of is accepting that my children will be filthy the entire time! Once I got over all the dirt, I was able to survive a weekend. Everyone else has listed great suggestions – one thing I do (now that I’m over 40) is take a sleeping pill at night – I’m usually rather uncomfortable sleeping on a cot or air mattress and I feel much better in the morning if I get a good night’s sleep! Hope you have a great time!!

  • When I first opened the page and saw the tent picture, I thought you were joking! It reminded me of Tom Haverford on Parks and Recreation. He bought all kinds of stuff from Sky Mall before they went camping. The more I read, the more it reminded me of that. I’m glad you’re for real, though. That tent looks like it’ll be a great blessing for your family.

  • After more than 30 years of camping with my family while growing up and then with my husband and our three young boys, I have given up the hatred at last. I still do not love it, but I’ve found ways to make it tolerable and even fun at times. My family does an annual camping trip, that includes all 7 of my siblings, along with our families. It is pure chaos, but it is a blast as well.

    I’ll second all of the above recommendations, a whisk broom for the interior of the tent. A ground cover for underneath the tent. (FYI the ground cover can not stick out or show outside the edges of your tent or the rain will get in between the cover and your tent and completely defeat the purpose. It should be tucked completely underneath.) I take a towel for just inside the tent, wipe feet on it when going inside and it cuts down on the mess. I’m a big fan of pocket sized flashlghts, I LOVE my maglight. It fits in my jacket easily and provides plenty of light for almost anything I need. I do have a full size one as well, but the tiny one is my favorite most of the time. Take a cloth tablecloth. Seems silly and trivial, but it makes such a difference. I have a cute plaid one that makes it all seem that much nicer. If you will have your own eating area, a pop up canopy is awesome too, but probably not required for this particular trip.

    Baby wipes. Baby wipes and more baby wipes. Seriously, girl, these are my saving grace. I pack them 20 or so each into sturdy quart size freezer ziplocs and I constantly have them in my back pocket or within reach. They are a gift from God when my kids and I need to wash our hands or simply need to NOT feel disgustingly gross and dirty for a few minutes. You can wipe down as much of the kids as you like with them, they will remove almost any stain, they will clean tables and chair as needed. They simply ROCK. I take TONS more than I think I will need and lucky for me, I still have a baby that uses them when I bring home the extras. Even without a baby and diapers along for the ride, I’d be taking at least a big tub of them, possibly more.

    Comfortable chairs are a must. Test them in the store and try to relax into them. A standard camp chair beats the heck out of the ground, a bench or a rock to sit on, but an oversized chair with a cup rest, AND a foot stool is even better.

    Ok, I’m going to stop now. If you are interested, I do have several excel lists with all of the different gear that we pack, broken down by categories. Just email me and I’d be happy to send them to you. Yes, my name is Mary and I am a Type A organizational kinda chick.

    I think that camping can be fun, provided you have at least a few things to make you happy and/or comfortable (chocolate, check. wine, check. games, books or other entertainment, check.) The outdoors is a wonderland for some and torture for others. I like a mix of nature AND as many creature comforts as can possibly be fit inside our vehicles! RV camping would be awesome, but it won’t be happening for this girl anytime soon.

  • I almost forgot. I’ll second, third and fourth the sleeping pill recommendation. It is a MUST! I sleep horribly when not at home and combined with sleeping outdoors, I will literally stay awake all night. No exaggeration at all, I have spent an entire night listening to every single sound and breeze. We went and picked up Tylenol PM the next morning and I slept beautifully the following night. Never again will I forget to pack my sleep aids! Sleeping pills, benadryl, wine, (though definitely NOT all at once!) whatever will help you sleep will be a God send. Take an extra pillow or two, cozy blanket (not just a sleeping bag – blech!) I actually take sheets and a couple blankets to make up an actual bed on our mattress. It is SO much nicer and doesn’t take up that much more space.

    Good luck with it and Have FUN!

  • Ditto all of the above 🙂

    • Big ol’ carton of baby wipes for all general wipery…hands, face, feet, etc.
    • Tarp for under the tent.
    • Bug spray, and spray it on the ground around the perimeter of the tent.
    • Warm-sleepwear. You’ll be surprised at just how cold 50-60 degrees can feel when you’re sleeping outside. We all have super-duper cold-rated Coleman sleeping bags. I wear warm-ups and socks to bed.
    • Don’t over pack. Take one outfit to keep you warm and one outfit to keep you cool.
    • Comfortable, sturdy shoes. Forget style.
    • Flip flops for the shower.
    • Small flashlights (we like the LED kind) that will clip onto your belt loop or pocket.
    • Pocket knife. I keep one in my purse all the time anyway.
    • And, lastly…relax. Embrace the dirt. You’ll be amazed at how much you’ll decompress when you’re unplugged and off the grid. It’s not about hair or make-up, or clean clothes. It’s about total family time, without distractions and the myriad of things that occupy us at home. Just relax, keep those expectations low and enjoy the time.

    p.s. Some of the best things about camping…

    • Talking with your kids late into the night when you’re all in your sleeping bags.
    • The sound of nature at night. You’ll be surprised by what you hear.
    • How good hotdogs and marshmallows taste, cooked over a campfire.
    • Breakfast. Coffee on a camping morning, in the fresh air with the sun coming up is wonderful.
    • Conversation. You’ll have the best talks with your family & friends while camping.
    • Just being together.

  • Just an FYI…I slept in the back of our van with my daughter when we went on a school trip to hike down the Grand Canyon. It was definitely colder than being in a tent on an air mattress because the air circulated under the van. If you sleep in the van, bundle up! Hope you manage to enjoy the time with your girls. 🙂

  • Great ideas! The last trip we went on (just last month) I took our electric blanket. It was a cold weekend here in Chicagoland! Not sure how to do the whole camping thing in Florida, but I do know as long as you have baby wipes and electricity…all will be well 🙂
    The electricity part is most important because we also take our Keurig with us. Although, we have a fancy, schmancy thing that can run the coffee pot off our car battery for those camping trips devoid of electricity…which are few and far between I can tell you!
    I predict that not only will you have tons of great stories to share, but that you’ll have a great time too 🙂

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