Friday, October 17, 2014

Camping as a Family Tips and Lessons Learned Part 3

In the last post I shared tips and lessons that we have learned during our first year of camping.  Today I will continue the list in attempt to help you avoid some of the mistakes we made!

7)   Relax
My husband will laugh when he reads this because this is a hard one for me.  I seriously try to control everything.  Camping takes away my "power" and forces me to let things go.  As Gary Smalley said from the first post in this series, things will go wrong when you camp.  Roll with the punches!

8)  Separate camping supplies and home use items as much as possible.
We we began our practice runs of camping, I was shocked at the amount of times I ran back into the house to get one. More. Thing.  If you Google "camping supply list" you will be shocked the amount of supplies most people take with them.  Yes you can minimize your list to clothes, a little food, and sleeping bag but with kids this can be very difficult. 

One of the perks of doing trailer camping is that you have constant storage of supplies.  And I highly suggest you keep camping supplies and home use items separate as much as possible.  This makes prep work so much easier thus making the draw to camping higher.  If every time you camp it requires you gather every single needed item, you probably won't camp very much because it takes a lot of time to get ready.  But if you are able to have the supplies gathered for each camping trip, it makes the prep work so much easier.   

Now unless you have an unlimited budget, this won't be completely possible but as much as able have supplies set aside for camping use only.  Because we have a camper, I leave our supplies in the trailer when not camping.  A friend uses storage containers to contain their camping supplies. 

Here are just a few examples:  Can opener, flashlights, cutting utensils, towels.  I was amazed at how many duplicates I had collected in our home over the years that went to the trailer.  Also, several people offered to give us their extras when they heard we were going to begin camping.

I have a list of items that we do not have duplicates of so I know what to gather when packing.  And there are times that we have to pull something out of the trailer (sleeping bags) when they are needed in the home. 

We have gone camping 9 times this year.  (Yes, we really enjoy it!)  I knew that amount would be cut to 1 or 2 times a year if I had to gather supplies every time we went.  Now, I can be ready to go camping within two hours instead of gathering supplies for two days. 

9)  Get to know the state parks in your area.
Because we live within 30 minutes of a very large lake, there are several state parks within a close drive.  We purposely reserve one park because it is only 15 minutes away from our church which allows us to attend even while camping!  The first time we go to a park we ask the park ranger for a map of the camp sites.  Then we have a family bike ride through the park marking the sites that we would like to reserve next time.  We check out the amount of shade, play area, where the table sits, and levelness of the site for the trailer.  I keep a folder of all the parks so when a weekend comes available we can quickly check for availability of the sites we prefer.  If it is your first time, be sure to ask the park attendants.  They typically have a real good handle on which sites everyone prefers. 

10)  Keep it simple.

This was the first comment that I received on my personal Facebook account when I asked my friends for suggestions.  So much wisdom in this tip.  As I stated in the last post concerning food, keep it simple.  Simplicity will help everyone enjoy the event much more.

I hate disposable goods.  Waste makes me crazy.  But, in camping paper towels and wet wipes are your friend.  Make it easy on yourself. 

With that said, I do have plastic plates and real silverware because I {hate} how the cheap plastic stuff doesn't stand up to hot foods and the silverware breaks sometimes.  With a trailer, it is simple to wash the items. 

11)  Train your family to respect other campers.
We have been very blessed to stay by very respectful campers.  I can only pray that they feel the same after staying by us.  As a family we spend a lot of time discussing how neighboring campers are making opinions about Christians when they see us pray for a meal and when we play together.  Sometimes our "play" is anything but Christ like.  It's a work in progress for all of us but a good reminder to respect them with our volume (especially in the mornings when we rise early) and how we talk to each other.  We also discuss respecting God's creation by picking up our trash.

12)  Have activities to do
There have been a few times that I spent so much time gathering clothing and food that I forgot to gather activities.  Now we have a collection of games, outdoor games, and trucks to play in the dirt.  (Almost all of the campsites in our area have pea-sized crushed rock at each camp site.  This works beautifully with a play dump truck and bulldozer.)  We also take our bikes and have several family bike rides each day.  (Have I told you how much we love the WeeRide Kangaroo Child Bike Seat for Peanut (pictured below)?  Read my review.  I can't suggest enough.)

Whether it is biking, walking trails, or kicking a soccer ball around, have options because the kiddos will not sit and watch the breeze blow through the trees while lying with a book in a hammock all day.  That's what I want to do!Oh...and don't forget the glow bracelets and glowsticks. These are super fun at night and help you see your child!

13.  Create a spreadsheet of items to take each trip

I know this sounds very Type A - and it is - I highly suggest you create a list, spreadsheet, or something to help you remember the items you need.  This reduces stress and makes packing so much easier. 

Camping isn't for everyone.  I get that.  Even our closest friends won't join us!  And I am not saying implying that "all good families camp."  When Gary Smalley suggested camping it was simply a suggestion to find something that makes your family unique.  An activity that brings your family together for decades to come. 

If camping is your thing, I hope that you find these tips helpful.  And, if you ever run into us at a camp ground be sure to introduce yourself!  We're always looking for new camping friends. 

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The Our Out-of-Sync Life blog focuses on encouraging women to deepen their spiritual life, simplify daily tasks, and impress Jesus on the children around them.