I thought I’d be a good camper because I like the outdoors, but I have come to the realization that it doesn’t come naturally to me like it does for so many other Canadians. Tenting was an epic fail and having a tent trailer was even more work than going to work. Now with a cute little travel trailer, emphasis on the little, I have all the amenities of home…a radio, power, water, shower, toilet, microwave, stove and fridge. But it still doesn’t feel like home.
I have come to the conclusion that for me to have a good camping experience it takes extreme planning and lots of wine. Once we get our campsite, the set up just happens. An awning or a shady tree helps to get through the hot sunny days of summer. I’ve learned to keep groceries simple…less is more in this case. Buy your food by planning meals ahead for breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, drinks and the campfire. Be sure to pack what you need to cook the meals (bbq) and do the dishes (or not).
Camping is not camping without my favourite part, the campfire. Why? Because it’s the time when you can actually sit down, relax and celebrate that you made it through the day.
If you are taking your kids, plan activities for the daytime, otherwise they can feel endless. Camping can also be very enjoyable without kids if you can work it right. Try it! Gone are the days where kids find their own entertainment, as sad as that is to say. Bring games, bathing suits, books, sports equipment, devices (wifi is in most campgrounds now). Bocce, ring toss, beanbag toss, croquet and horseshoes are all fun activities for the whole family. Try the outdoor movie on a laptop if you have the means. Some campgrounds even schedule kid activities so take part. If you are going kidless, go for a drive and explore the outlying areas and maybe even grab a meal so you don’t have to cook. This is more my kind of camping because it gives me a break and it should feel like a holiday, right.
When you pack your clothes, be sure to also pack what you need to shower. Include flip flops so you don’t have to touch the floor. Don’t forget the towels. I have actually done this. Let me tell you it is not fun drip drying after a shower in 30+ weather, with nothing but a bandana to dry yourself. There are now shower gels for body and hair and they are great. You don’t need to bring all your usual stuff but you do need your toothbrush and medical aids like Advil, allergy medicine, sunscreen, tums, etc…There is nothing worse than getting stuck in the woods without pain relief.
I have yet to discover the appeal of camping to so many, but I am giving myself some time to try and get into it. If it doesn’t work out I can always sell the trailer. Things that help me to get through the day are a bathing suit, a nice big towel, bug spray, a book or magazines, music, water and a lot of patience with Mother Nature. You just never know when it might rain so be prepared.
Sleeping seems to be the most challenging thing for me while camping and if you don’t get a good night’s sleep you aren’t much good for the next day. No sleep equals grouchy camper. It certainly isn’t like your own bed at home so be sure to have a pillow and blanket you like and try to keep it dark so you don’t wake up at 5am to the birds singing. You also have to go in with the right attitude. I think I will now try assuming I won’t be getting any sleep, and when I do, it will be a bonus.
Part of camping is adapting to your new surroundings, to outside weather and to other people who might be there for fun instead of peace and quiet. Whatever your purpose is for setting out to the great outdoors, find what makes you happy and enjoy it for what it is. Accept that you are not at a cottage or a 5 star luxury hotel, but you are one with nature.
I have learned that where you camp is a big factor in how much you can enjoy your trip. Camp around at different places until you find a place that fits you. Some people prefer camping in different places all the time while others like returning to the same spot. I like to know where I’m going and prefer clean, close and friendly.
Some people would call my version of camping “glamping” probably, but I figure I’m still roughing it a bit. We all have our own version and every camper has to develop their own style. At the end of the day, it feels like work and you may leave exhausted, but somehow you look back on it as time well spent after a good shower and some sleep at home.
I’m not sure this will be a permanent activity for me, but for now, it’s something different and a fun way to get away from the every day!
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