Lets Go Camping!

Discussion in 'Teacher Time Out' started by mmswm, Jun 2, 2011.

  1. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    I'm a self admitted hater of camping (my idea of "roughing it" is a motel instead of a full service hotel), but my boys really want to go. I'm also broke. Really, really broke. Now, that should fix itself in the next two months, so I'm thinking ahead here.

    So, knowing absolutely NOTHING about camping, I was hoping that some of you more outdoorsy types could point me in the right direction for purchasing inexpensive, but decent equipment, and to also tell me what I need.

    I won't be able to afford any sort of vehicle, and I drive a civic, so, what should I get to take me and 3 boys camping, and have it all fit in my car? I know I'll need a tent of some sort and a cooler or two for food, and a camp stove of some sort (I know nothing about those either).

    I'm thinking that an overnight trip would be good to start. There are a dozen or so state parks in three states within 2 hours of me, so that wouldn't be too bad of a drive for one night, and tent sites are pretty cheap, so that's good on my budet.

    Any ideas and advise would be greatly appreciate. :)
     
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  3. Grammy Teacher

    Grammy Teacher Virtuoso

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    When we used to go camping with the boys, I did an internet search and found it very useful. There are just so many little things that you need and the list really helped me. A good flashlight and some toilet paper come in real handy! Water, peanut butter, bottled drinks. Stuff you don't have to have on ice necessarily. You don't need a campstove unless you want to really "cook." A small table top grill is inexpensive and you can cook hot dogs or whatever. If you camp where you have electricity plug ins, take an extension cord and a hot plate, and a coffee pot if you like coffee. ..and cups!
    A 4# sleeping bad for each, an extra blanket for each, pillows and it's nice to have blow up mattresses under your bags. Mosquito spray and sunscreen, wet wipes.
    Rope, clothes pins, towels (if you go swimming)
    Try to use paper plates, bowls, etc, but if you want to wash dishes, take earth friendly soap.
    Prepare your cooler with cut up water melon in a container for easy snacking and you won't have to stand outside cutting up the fruit. Bananas, bread, butter and cold cereal (paper bowls) and throw away spoons. Several garbage bags.
    Wash cloths and rags for wiping things down. Roll of paper towel. O.K that's enough for now.
     
  4. TennisPlayer

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    I think it's easiest to plan your meals where you can eat at a restaurant so you don't have to worry about anything spoiling... We brought snacky foods for the campfire at night like s'mores etc but ate out during the day or brought take out back to our campsite!!

    Bring foam padding or an air mattress to inflate there for under your sleeping bag....it's still going to be uncomfortable because you are outside hehee....book a campsite that is level and on dirt they usually label gravel, slope, etc.

    Flashlights are great as well as lanterns (they even have mini ones) to hang in your tent..

    Just envision yourself being there and what you think you might need to help with packing but yeah the internet lists would be helpful too.
    Have a great time!
     
  5. Major

    Major Connoisseur

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    Wish I lived close by mmswm....... I have all the gear... tent, sleeping bags, coolers, 30 year old Coleman stove and lantern..... any and everything you could want for an overnight stay... or longer ..... I often go out overnight camping in the boonies...... just by myself..... My wife doesn't care for a tent........ she considers "camping" is done in our motor home......:lol:

    You might be able to rent all that stuff...... I don't know .... Have fun ...... Major....... :)
     
  6. Grammy Teacher

    Grammy Teacher Virtuoso

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    I've done a lot of camping. My dad took us for a month at a time in the summer. We lived in the woods in a tent and it was awesome. We always camped with our sons, sometimes at State Parks and sometimes campgrounds.
    Plan your meals ahead and keep them simple. If you're only going for one night, this should be easy. It saves you a lot of money if you eat at the campsight.
     
  7. kcjo13

    kcjo13 Phenom

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    When we roughed it (before satellite and air conditioning), I would pack each day's supplies in its own plastic tote. That helped me organize, and clean up. But in a civic, you might not be able to do that.

    You might find it just as cheap to rent a cabin instead of buying tents too. Tents can get expensive. Some state park cabins come with bedding and kitchen stuff.

    Camping is not for the faint at heart. It is hard work! There will always be something you wish you had.
     
  8. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    In ND it's $12 for a tent site vs a minimum of $40 for a cabin that sleeps 4, and none of them come with bedding, though some do come with a kitchen (no dishes). I'm searching around online for tent prices to see if I could justify the cost if I went more than once. My parents used to take us camping when I was little, and I pretty much hated it, but they boys REALLY want to go...and more than once.
     
  9. Sarge

    Sarge Enthusiast

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    Actually, look into renting the more expensive equipment - like stoves and tents. The thing is that cheap tents can really be a problem if it starts to rain.

    Now as for sleeping bags, inexpensive ones work if it isn't too cold. All bags come with a temperature rating.

    Then you need to worry about what to sleep on. Air mattresses work well - again if it's not too cold.
     
  10. janney

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    If you are short on cash and don't plan on doing a lot of camping, you can get by with buying very little.

    1. A dome tent they are easy to set up and are fairly inexpensive. Leave some space between the sides of the tent and your bedding otherwise they may end up wet with the morning dew.

    2. Lots of blankets. If you don't have sleeping bags, just bring a few comforters for padding. If it's too uncomfortable you could probably sleep in the car. Your boys won't care about the hard ground. :)

    3. A lantern or flash light.

    4. Toilet paper. Bring a few rolls in case someone drops one down the toilet.

    5. Metal toaster forks for cooking over the fire.

    6. Matches and newspaper to start a fire. If you are staying at a state park be sure to find out their firewood policy beforehand. Will you have to bring your own, buy it from them, or will they allow you to collect your own from the forest?

    7. Food. Bring things that are fun to snack on. Chips, candy, fruit, veggies, etc. Soda or water to drink. If you are only staying the night you can always get your coffee fix on the drive back home. To make cooking easier (and more fun!) bring things that can be cooked over the fire on your toaster forks. You can do marshmallows for smores and hot dogs. You could also bring bread and sandwich meats in case the fire cooking doesn't go as planned. In the morning you can try toasting the bread over the fire.

    8. A cooler for all of your food. If this is something that you think you will get a lot of use out of in the future, I suggest on like this. If you'll never use it again just get a styrofoam one.

    9. A radio with batteries or you ipod with speakers.

    10. Cards or other games to play.

    11. Lawn chairs to sit on.

    I wouldn't spend a lot of money on your first camping trip. If everyone has fun and wants to do it again you can slowly build up your extra supplies. My parents did that as I was growing up and I never noticed anything was missing.
     
  11. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    Thanks for all the replies!

    What are some good, mid-range tents? What should I look for when shopping?
     
  12. janney

    janney Cohort

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    I thought this article was pretty helpful to tell you what you should look for in a tent.
    http://www.cheapism.com/cheap-tents
     
  13. Grammy Teacher

    Grammy Teacher Virtuoso

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    When we camped as a kid, my dad had a two room canvas heavy duty (remember we were in it for a month every summer!) He'd put up tarps outside and make the "kitchen" out there.
    Of course you won't need all that. I was always told to buy one with a "bath tub" floor if you want to stay super dry in rainy weather.http://www.ehow.com/how_4551892_camp-thunderstorm.html
     
  14. teacherintexas

    teacherintexas Maven

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  15. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    Great links! I scanned through them and will now be busy really reading them. Thanks!
     
  16. Ms. I

    Ms. I Maven

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    I've never camped in my life, but I'm willing to try it. Have fun! :)

    Now I know you said you're short on $ & space in the car, but this would be nice to take along:
    http://www.amazon.com/Sanitation-Eq...NWYK/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1307071898&sr=8-4

    OK, here's one for less than $20 that won't take up much room:
    http://www.amazon.com/Portable-Camp...9CN6/ref=sr_1_7?ie=UTF8&qid=1307071965&sr=8-7

    Sounds good to me!
     
  17. Peachyness

    Peachyness Virtuoso

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    Hmmm, knowing MM, I think she won't need those portable toilets, Ms. I. I think MM will have no problems going out into the forest and digging up her own toilet! :D

    ETA: pics please :p
     
  18. Ms. I

    Ms. I Maven

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    LOL, alrighty then! :)
    I apparently seem to be on a ("toilet tissue") roll (get it) w/ the bathroom/toilets lately! ::haha:

    (For those who don't know, I recentoly started a bathroom thread!)
     
  19. TennisPlayer

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    We also picked a site near the restrooms for those times in the middle of the night if you woke up you wouldn't have to walk far since it is going to a dark walk...bring a flashlight or just wait til the morning since you'll be camping with kids so you can keep an eye on everyone.. don't know how old your kids are to go alone. If you do use the showers (if there are any) bring money since they are usually coin operated and wear flip flops...those bathrooms can be gross. we usually shower when we get home so camping is usually 1-2 days long. Last time we camped for 1 night then stayed at a hotel the next to clean up and get a good night's sleep before heading back home.
    REad all about the sites you want to camp at to read reviews so you know what to expect...
    Have a great time!
     
  20. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    If you're a member of AAA, or know someone in the area who is, see if the local branch of AAA has any kind of guide to campgrounds. California's pretty well covered that way. The advantage of a printed guide is that it can tell you what not to bother looking at online.

    For starters, you probably want to avoid primitive campgrounds, which are the ones with no toilets. Pit or vault toilets are basically porta-potties. I've camped primitive, but let me recommend campgrounds with flush toilets. Showers are nifty too (though let me also recommend baby wipes or something like them for quick cleanups).
     
  21. Blue

    Blue Aficionado

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    You will need a tarp to set up your tent on. A lot of moisture and coldness comes up from the ground.

    Can you buy a car carrier to put on the top of your car? Will you be able to take bikes? Bikes are a big thing at campgrounds.

    Don't forget aluminum foil. You can cook, store, eat with it. Take plenty of towels. Boys get wet and dirty about 3 times a day--and will have to shower at leat 2 times a day.

    Bug repellent. A must.
     
  22. kcjo13

    kcjo13 Phenom

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    Ooh, good call on the aluminum foil. I can cook an entire meal with a few pieces of aluminum foil!
     
  23. cutNglue

    cutNglue Magnifico

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    The last time I went camping, I rented all of it including the tent. It was super cheap. Mine was rented through something on base, but it occurs to me that wherever you might be able to rent the stove, etc., they might rent tents as well. Wouldn't hurt to ask. I didn't use a stove.
     
  24. cutNglue

    cutNglue Magnifico

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    Oh and some campgrounds have activities set up especially during peak time and weekends. Ask when you reserve a spot.
     
  25. cutNglue

    cutNglue Magnifico

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    Also, if you FB your request, you might get someone that is willing to lend you a tent. You could word it where you are looking to rent or buy a cheap one, JUST FOR ONE WEEKEND etc. and see if anyone offers you one or gives you good feedback. One of your friends might have one they are willing to lend.
     
  26. Kindergarten31

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    I know Sears makes a tent that has two rooms that sets up in less than 5 minutes and is pretty inexpensive. When we tent camped, I always took a covered electric skillet-you can cook/heat all sorts of different things. Convenience foods and paper goods (although not eco-friendly, are the best for new campers. We used to camp a lot at the KOA camps-they are always clean and most have good amenities. Some even have open air kitchens that you can use. Bug spray is important. We used to pack a tote bag with shampoo, soap, deoderant, comb, toothbrush, toothpaste, etc. for the trip to the facilities. Don't primitive camp your first time out. That is sometimes difficult for even seasoned campers.
     
  27. 3Sons

    3Sons Enthusiast

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    I've been camping with my family pretty much every year since childhood, usually at bluegrass music festivals (I'll be here this year, regrettably sans my own kids).

    I would second the suggestion on a dome tent, and if possible, one for your kids (depending on how old they are. If they're over 7 or 8, the tent is simply enough to set up themselves, and you'll get some privacy). Definitely also at the very least a mattress pad, but better would be an air mattress. An air pump also helps, unless you want to spend half an hour hyperventilating into a big vinyl bag.

    Additionally, if you're camping in an area that will get sun in the morning, consider a separate sun shade for the tent, unless you're planning to wake up really early -- a tent can become sweltering very easily. Avoid putting your tent on rocky or damp ground. If you have to sleep on ground that's not flat (on a hillside or something), sleeping with your head uphill is best. Try not to arrive in the dark or rain -- I have more nightmares trying to set up wet that I can't see than I want to remember. Stake tents and sun shades down so they don't blow away.

    Pack clothing for a variety of temperatures, and particularly don't forget sweaters or jackets. A lot of places get cold at night, even in the summer.

    Suntan lotion, wet wipes, bug spray.

    You may want to consider how you're going to make coffee. There are coffee pots that can be used on a stove. Also, generally plan your meals beforehand. If it's more than a couple of days (even one day in hot weather), you'll likely run out of ice in the cooler pretty quickly.

    Umm... and try to get over it not being a motel, and develop a good sense of humor about it. Odds are it will not be as comfortable as you're used to. If you're going anyplace where there will be other people camping, try to make friends with neighbors (some will reciprocate, some just want to be left alone -- but having some friends makes it a lot easier).
     
  28. LUCHopefulTeach

    LUCHopefulTeach Habitué

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    I am not an out-doorsy, roughing it type of girl. When we would go camping with my brother for boy scouts we would take battery powered alarm clocks and TVs. When I got older my friends and me would camp in my backyard. We would have a power extension cord run outside and would take the TV, radio, PS2, etc outside! :lol:
     
  29. smalltowngal

    smalltowngal Multitudinous

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    LUCH~my idea of camping is in an RV!

    I did the rough it camping when I slept in a truckbed...in Nov...with no heat and just one sleeping bag. That was enough for me!
     
  30. silverspoon65

    silverspoon65 Enthusiast

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    For overnight camping, you really don't need much.

    A tent
    Sleeping bags, but you can also make bedrolls (just take your bedding and roll it up!)
    Flashlight
    Grill lighter
    First aid/bug spray/sunscreen

    For food:
    Obviously stuff for smores
    Jungle breakfast (individual boxes of cereal and fruit, hidden in the nearby woods. Let them find it) Nothing needs to be refrigerated unless you want milk.
    PBJ/bread
    snacks

    none of that has to be refrigerated.

    For dinner you can do foil packets on the fire with chicken and veg, or hot dogs, etc. If you pack it on ice, it should be fine for one night.

    You can bring some games, cards, balls, music, etc., but there will also be plenty to do there. I know the places we went when I was a kid had movies, concerts, ghost stories, and other activities. Sometimes there were cool night hikes, etc., plus whatever normal activities the park has during the day, like trails, canoes, discus golf, etc. Some even have pools.

    Try looking for a tent in craigslist/freecycle/yard sales.
     
  31. dizzykates

    dizzykates Habitué

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    Food ideas:

    peanut butter and jelly
    hot dogs cooked on a stick (smores too!!)
    foil dinners - beef/chicken, potatoes, carrots, onions and seasoning (we usually chop all this at home and then freeze it for the first day), cook them on the edge of the fire or sometimes the fire pit has a grate that slides over it and we put it on there.
    I usually make muffins, brownies and trail mix to bring with for snacking or breakfast (muffins :))
    Lots of fruits and veggies that keep well - carrots, apples, grapes, applesauce cups, fruit cups, mini containers of pickles

    Good luck! We always buy a parks pass and use it several times to camp!
     
  32. Missy

    Missy Aficionado

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    The Boy Scouts do a lot of camping.
     

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