I went camping this past weekend, and…
… it was as wonderful as ever.
Eating over the fire. The buzz of cicadas. Sunlight filtered through the leaves. The wood-smoke smell that lingers in your hair and clothes that make you never want to wash them. The lake water against your skin. Pure heaven.
But even with all our years of doing this, we still made some mistakes. So I thought I’d document them here for my future self, and for you, if a camping trip is somewhere in your near future (and I sincerely hope it is!)
- Bring the right sleeping bag There are sleeping bags designed for 40-degree weather, 30-degree weather, 20-degree weather, all the way down to below zero. Then there are sleeping bags that are not designed for outdoor use at all. My boyfriend brought a zero-degree weather sleeping bag, while I brought an indoor sleeping bag. Needless to say, he was too hot, and I was too cold. We’ll bring the right ones next time.
- Don’t cook your food in an inferno We make this delicious dinner called pocket stew, which is where you throw canned vegetables, chicken, tomato sauces, and spices into a square of foil and cook it in the fire. Except we forgot that putting it into the full-on flames not only overcooks everything, but also makes it really hard to get back out when you’re ready to eat. Cook over the hot coals, not the flames.
- Remember the spices We did a great job shopping, but failed to bring any sort of spice, include salt and pepper, which made for some blandish meals. Oops.
- Remember matches so you don’t have to use a burning stick to light your camp stove.
- Wear the right shoes Even if you don’t plan on doing much hiking, the terrain at a campsite is uneven and unpredictable and sometimes a pair of flip-flops just won’t do it.
- Check for bugs in your wine Camp flies love trying to commit suicide in your red wine. By the end of the weekend I was seriously considering stealing my baby cousin’s sippy cup for my wine consumption.
- Apply bug spray immediately Mosquitos are inconsiderate; they don’t wait until you’ve unpacked and are all settled in and then remember the bug spray to bite you.
- Keep your glasses and lantern within easy reach of your sleeping bag Because waking up in the night in the pitch blackness and not being able to find the bathroom is not fun.
- The noises in the woods outside your tent are (probably) not a bear coming to eat you I couldn’t fall asleep the first night because I was convinced a bear was about to eat us. I heard it. But then the lady who runs the camp said that A) bears are pretty quiet, actually and B) raccoons and possums come out at night as well, are not silent, and are quite common to this area of New Jersey, so calm down.
- And finally, don’t bring your dogs to archery lessons. They will bark and freak out and not understand that the sticks whizzing past them are not for them to chase.
Those are all my tips for now. Let me know if you can think of any others!