My Camping Essentials.

by Vicki

This Summer my family and I went camping three different times. We visited Restoule Provincial Park, Point Farms Provincial Park, and Bon Echo Provincial Park. All three of these parks are absolutely beautiful and well worth the drives to visit.

IMG_0019Even though these parks are beautiful and our camping trips were fun/great/enjoyable…I have come to realize something: I am not a natural camper. If it wasn’t for the fact that I grew up camping and that I have amazing childhood memories of camping….I’m not sure I would be a camper now in adulthood. I honestly feel that camping, especially in this stage of life with three littles, is like my normal SAHM life but dirtier and all around more difficult (bed time is more difficult, showering and bathing kids is more difficult, cooking is more difficult, storing food is more difficult, going to the bathroom at night is more difficult (and colder and scarier!), staying dry in the rain is more difficult, etc. etc. etc. You get the picture. There are many reasons not to camp. Many.

That said, we, as a family, do camp. A lot.

For all of its faults, camping does have some positives. It is an affordable get away for our family. Its an excellent way to enjoy and experience nature. It created many fond memories for my husband and I as we were growing up, and its doing the same for our kids now. Its great family time away from the distractions of technology. It allows us to discover different parts of our beautiful province and country. It gives us a reason to melt marshmellows, smush them between two chocolate cookies, and call it dessert. IMG_0161Peyton remembered camping from last year and sporadically asked all Winter about going camping again. She loved it then and she loved it again this year. She learned to bike without training wheels, became more confident in the water, enjoyed showering at the comfort stations, and loved being with cousins (two of the three trips were with our extended families).

Chase did not remember camping and, I have to admit, was not too fond of it at first. Our first trip started with torrential downpours (not fun for setting up a tent and tarp!!). He took one look around, asked to go home, and, when denied, started sucking his thumb (something he had never done before). After the initial shock, he grew quite comfortable and now loves camping (although he’s still sucking his thumb). He became an expert at his balance bike, took to the water like a fish, and loved exploring the woods around the campsites.

So, because my husband and my kiddos do, I love camping. But, in order to help me love camping I do have some camping essentials that I can not do without (or at least that I don’t want to do without). If camping is something that you think you might like to try or if you already camp but wouldn’t mind it being just a bit better, perhaps some of these items are for you!

  1. A raised bed. We received our air mattress cot from my husband’s boss and it totally changed my view of camping. I love being able to easily get out of bed (multiple times a night) to nurse a baby or tuck in a waking child. It is totally my number one recommend! This one is similar to the one we have. Honestly, worth every penny. Best. Thing. Ever.
  2. A good lantern. Growing up my parents always had a propane lantern. It made that wooshing sound and it smelled like camping to me. My husband and I bought one when we were first married, but the silly thing kept needing a new net-bulb-thingy and it was more frustrating then useful. If you know how to properly use one of those – all the power to you! We now use a Broadstone lantern, similar to this one. Ours is battery powered instead of chargeable (but the chargeable one would be ah-mazing!). I love that its bright enough to play a game at night but also has a dim setting that can be used as a night light for a certain three year old boy who is slightly scared of the dark.
  3. A good mat (this one is cute!). This might seem a little ridiculous to you true campers – but there is something about having a clean mat outside my tent that makes me feel at home. It makes for a good catching ground for things that have to go in or out of the tent (without having to keep opening and closing the zipper). It helps keep the inside of the tent a bit cleaner and drier. It looks cute. ‘Nuff said.
  4. Coleman kids sleeping bags – these bags are super cute and my kids loved them! They also did a great job keeping the kids warm during the very cold nights we had on our last trip (one night it went down to zero degrees!). I only had one other blanket on them (their special blankets) and my kids didn’t wake up from the cold once! They also cut down on the amount of packing I had to do – I used to pack hampers full of random blankets for the kids’ beds.
  5. A good comfortable chair. I have a zero gravity chair which is super comfortable for afternoon naps (or so my husband tells me {*wink*wink*}), readIMG_0451ing a book, and nursing a baby. That said, two of my sisters took these monstrosities camping and (although lots of jokes were made about them being the size of small sofas) I love them! They are warm and cozy – perfect for a cold night around the campfire. They were from Costco but I can’t find them on the Costco website – they are similar to these, but better and cheaper!
  6. A LARGE tarp. My husband secretly loves putting up our tarp. Each trip he comes up with a new configuration, covers as much ground as possible, and creates a safe and dry(ish) space foIMG_9987r us in case of rain (which, lets be honest, every trip has some rain!). Our tarp is 20ft x 40ft. Its big. It gets us lots of “Wow! That’s a big tarp!” comments, and sometimes it even gets neighboring campers coming over and asking Mark to come and help them set up their tarp.

I asked Mark what his camping essentials were. His answer? A coffee percolator (ours is similar to this) and warm socks. It must be so nice to be a man.

We obviously also have our coleman stove, a Columbia tent (which is big and tall – I Love it!), and coolers. The typical essential camping things. But the list above are some of the items that helped me enjoy camping a bit more this past summer.

Do you camp? Do you do it because you grew up doing it or do you absolutely love it? What are some of your camping essentials? I would love to add to my list in preparation for next year! I’m always on the look-out for great products that change the way I do something!



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