Camping 101: The Basics

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If you've never camped before, there's a lot to learn before you go. Follow these tips to stay dry and comfortable on your trip.

Set Up Shelter

  • Choose a tent with aluminum tent poles for more durability.
  • When choosing a tent's size, don't go by the sleeping capacity listed on the box—account for 3 feet of width per person.
  • Set your tent up before you leave to make sure there are no missing parts and it is in good condition.
  • When you get home, let the tent air out.
  • Keep the tent door zipped closed as much as possible so bugs don't get in.
  • Tuck a dryer sheet at the top of the door where the zipper stops to deter mosquitos.

Don’t “Stay Hungry”

  • Bring a portable grill, as well as charcoal and lighter fluid.
  • Freeze any meat you plan to bring so it will stay fresh.
  • Put meat, eggs, cheese and any other perishables in the bottom of a cooler and top with ice.
  • Bring plenty of bottled water.
  • Bring disposable utensils and paper plates, and something fireproof to turn foods with on the grill.
  • If you're camping in an area with bears, keep food packed away, hidden and locked in your vehicle.

Fashion Sense

Despite the need to pack for every kind of weather condition when you’re camping, you don’t have to pack your entire closet. When it comes to camping, form trumps fashion. Even if your camping trip is during the summer, it can get cold at night (depending on where you are). What to wear during the day:

  • Moisture-wicking shirts or t-shirts
  • A sweatshirt for layering
  • Jeans or sweatpants in case it gets really cold
  • Rain gear (just in case)
  • Flip flops to wear in campsite showers and around the campsite
  • Hiking boots or shoes
  • A brimmed hat for sun protection
  • Clean underwear and socks

Other Important Items to Bring

  • A flashlight and headlamp—and spare batteries for each
  • Bug spray
  • Sunscreen
  • Binoculars
  • Sunglasses
  • Towels
  • Sleeping bags and pillows
  • Firewood
  • Paper towels
  • Trash bags
  • First aid kit
  • Toilet paper
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Toiletries
  • A whistle (in case you get lost)
  • Duct tape (for emergency tent repairs)
  • Scissors
  • Pocket knife
  • Compass
  • Lawn chairs
  • Entertainment – cards, games, a guitar…

Of course, you can't forget ingredients for s'mores! Here's how to make them:

  • Put a jumbo marshmallow on a stick and roast it over the fire, but don't let it ignite!
  • Put half of a chocolate bar on a graham cracker square, add your roasted marshmallow and top with another graham cracker square.


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