I'm what you might call more of an indoors girl. I enjoy nature and the great outdoors — from a reasonable distance — but prefer not to get up close and personal with the various venomous creatures that inhabit the world beyond my kitchen window. There are always bees when you go outside. And I don't like bees.
Parenthood, however, requires a monumental degree of sacrifice at every one of its inevitable twists and turns. So while I once swore that I would never ever head off into the wilderness to sleep with the coyotes, I somehow recently found myself camping. And, to my surprise, I actually kind of liked it.
Camping Made Easy: 12 Tips to Remember
It turns out that, under the right circumstances, even not-so-outdoorsy parents like me can enjoy camping. If you're facing a potential camping trip, but aren't sure how to survive it, here are a few tips you need to remember.
1. Choose your campsite carefully.
I can't speak from personal experience, but I've been told that not all campsites are created equal. Clean, indoor restrooms are an absolute must. As is running water. And whatever you do, do not try wilderness camping — at least not at first.
2. Camp in the fall.
Camping may be a popular summertime activity, but right now is actually the perfect time for a camping trip. Cooler fall weather means no sweltering in the heat of the summer sun. And fewer bugs and mosquitos. Always a plus.
3. Get the right gear.
If you'll be sleeping in a tent, you will definitely need an air mattress. The cold, hard ground is not your friend — plus the extra 5 or 6 inches will put more distance between you and the snakes.
4. Borrow. Borrow. Borrow.
Non-campers rarely have all the gear needed for camping, and it's quite an investment to go buy items you may very well never use again. It turns out, though, that there are actually people who have tents and tarps and lanterns lying around their house. Become their friend.
5. Play helpless.
Camping is easier when you aren't the one doing the work. Better to watch the experienced campers wrestle the tents up and chop wood for the fire than to be the one doing it yourself.
6. Pack for comfort.
There are no beauty contests in camping. Now is the time to leave the makeup bag at home and bring your most comfortable fleece. And if you're camping with kids near a creek, be sure to include several changes of clothes. They're going to get wet.
7. Expect to disconnect.
At a remote campsite, you very likely won't have internet access or even cell service. For me, this meant I couldn't check in on my husband and 4-year-old, who hadn't come on the trip. But it turns out that a full 24 hours without hearing the word "Mommy" makes even camping a worthwhile endeavor.
8. Grill your food.
For the fire-phobic, there's always the option of making Grilled S'Mores. But you really can't beat the taste and aroma of hot dogs and marshmallows that have been roasted over an open flame, so if you're genuinely afraid to start a fire, see #5.
9. Go "glamping."
10. Take a flask.
This is purely for medicinal purposes. As in, you'll need it when you can't fall asleep due to the howling coyotes and thoughts of rabid bats swirling around in your head, or as a pain reliever when a wild bear takes a bite out of your leg. Which probably won't happen. But better safe than sorry.
11. Don't forget the coffee!!!
In a perfect world, campsites would be equipped with drive-thru Starbucks. Unfortunately, I'm the only one who seems to think so, so whatever you do, don't forget to bring along this morning must-have!
12. Embrace nature's beauty and power.
As much as I joke about my distaste for the great outdoors, I also recognize the value of connecting with the natural world that surrounds us. "The more high-tech we become, the more nature we need," says Richard Louv, author of Last Child in the Woods and The Nature Principle.
Word to the wise: If you still remain absolutely convinced that you never, ever want to go camping, do not, under ANY circumstances, let your daughter join the Girl Scouts. They will suck you in — and you just might find that you actually kind of like camping too.