Camping is a lot of fun for people who enjoy the opportunity to spend some quieter moments in the woods. For individuals who are able to get away for a few days, the experience can be invigorating. The challenge of going without many routine life conveniences in itself can be gratifying to those who like to “rough it.” One of the greater challenges, however, is faced when the camping trip is accompanied by others who are not quite as exuberant.
Let’s suppose you have big plans for a long weekend in the woods. You take half a day off of work on Friday and intend to stay until Monday evening. This time, though, it’s a family trip. You are anxious to experience a few refreshing days of family time away from the city or suburbia, but your spouse has marginal interest and your children are easily bored. What do you do?
In order to realize the benefits of both competing needs (i.e. time away in the woods and happy family experience), you make some adjustments to accommodate the preferences of everyone.
You, for example, may be the energetic adventurer who would be more than content with a sleeping bag, clean water, and a hunting bow. Your wife, on the other hand, might enjoy walking in through the woods for a few hours, but at the end of the day prefer a warm bath in a hotel room. And for the kids, baseball and video games are their sources of fun. Trouble is brewing unless you plan ahead.
Though it will take some effort, you can meet at least a portion of the interests of each person.
So one of the keys to creating a win-win scenario concerns both how you approach the trip and what you bring.
Some recommendations follow.
•Locate an established camp ground that is secure and safe.
•Spend a little investigation time on the Internet to locate a camp ground that offers some flexibility for family preferences and optional activity opportunities.
•The family tent should be bigger than a, um, pup tent. Decide in advance through family conversations if everyone would prefer to stay together in one large tent, one for the adults with another for the kids, or (especially given older kids of different genders) a separate tent for each person.
•Warm (warm!) and appropriately sized sleeping bags. And did I mention making sure they are warm…
•Some form of cushioning for under the sleeping bags. This could be an air mattress or perhaps a foam cushion.
•Flashlights and extra batteries that do not have an expiration date from the turn of the century.
•Matches, and lots of them, in a waterproof container. Even if the matches do not drop into a river, humidity can make them might more difficult to strike.
•Toilet paper. Though you should expect that camp site restrooms will keep ample supply of toilet paper, do not bet your embarrassing discomfort on it. And if you are at a camping area that does not happen to provide toilet facilities, you – the adventurous one – might find it thrilling to make do with leaves. But you will be the only one. On second thought, if the camp site does not have toilets, look for another.
•If you bring any canned foods, do not forget the can opener. Having done that once in the woods myself, it was not a fun-reinforcing experience. And I was hungry…
•A basic first aid kit.
•Extra clothing. Especially if there is a forecast of any rain.
Though certainly not comprehensive, here are a few additional items to consider bringing along in order to help make your time in the woods a positive experience for everyone. The more you bring on the trip, the more you may feel like you are simply dragging your home life into another environment. So you must weigh the balance.
•Bear in mind that you are headed for the woods, not a hotel. Bring soap, shampoo, towels, and other bathroom items that you might ordinarily expect to find supplied to you elsewhere.
•Similarly, if you are most comfortable sleeping on a pillow, bring one or more.
•For family members who need corrective lenses, bring an extra pair of glasses or contacts. If your primary items are lost, you do not want vision to be compromised in the woods.
•Camera, film (if using exposure film), camcorder, battery chargers, and binoculars. There are often beautiful memories you will want to capture from your visit with nature.
•Sun screen for warmer weather. Tree leaves will generally protect exposed skin in the woods, but rays do get through and you do not want to spend days 2 and 3 of your trip burned from the previous day’s activities.
•Pain relievers, antacids (consider, after all, what you are likely to be eating…), and medication that family members typically need.
•One or more sets of Walkie-Talkies. If anyone wanders off and gets lost, a means of communication may be critical.
•Kitchen comforts, such as snacks, coffee, dishes, plates, cups, baggies for food storage.
•Games and playing cards. Maybe even a football to toss around in open areas.
•TV guide. Ok. Maybe not…
The main point to keep in mind is that when you are camped out in the woods, most normal conveniences of the home are unavailable, so some family members could feel trapped. You can help to ensure the trip creates a very positive set of memories by respectfully taking all participants into account. You won’t regret it!