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Old 03-24-2011, 06:08 AM
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We are going to start camping this spring. We have already chosen our tent. I believe we are going to buy a portable Mr. Heater as well. We also have picked out cookware, coffee pot and chaise loungers.

I am completely new to camping. My husband is not as he used to go a ton before he met me. He has finally convinced me to try it out. We have two younger elementary aged children that cannot wait to go.

I am not an outdoors person but I am hoping to become one. I am afraid of most animals and not real keen on sleeping outside. But I am going to push myself out of my comfort zone because the rest of my family is really into it.

Having said all that, the biggest impediment to my full embrace of these outings is fear of the unknown. Any safety tips you can give me would be great. Any tips at all really. Any special products or gear I should buy. Anything that comes to mind - throw it out there. I'm all ears!

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Old 03-24-2011, 07:55 AM
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Camping like any other hobby, it depends greatly on that person’s mindset. If you go into it thinking you have a great time you will, if you go thinking you’re going to hate it, well that will happen also.

As far as safety, it all depends on where you will be camping. Most people will tell you the drive to where you will be camping is the most dangerous part of your entire trip. Common items like bug spray and sun tan lotion should be on the top of your list and a small first aid kit should be something everyone has even if you’re camping in a commercial campground. If you going to be more off the beaten path then you need to think about additional items based on the landscape you will be camping in.

If you have concerns about sleeping in a tent, I would set it up in the backyard for a few nights just so you can see how it is and then you can decide if you have the proper gear. The number one mistake most new people make when they decide to start camping is they buy/bring too much stuff.
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Old 03-24-2011, 07:56 AM
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Do not feed the bears! The water is deeper than it looks. Birds poop on food that is not covered. Mosquitos will not be deterred.

Seriously, the great out doors is not that bad. Most campgrounds are well utilized and major wildlife will avoid places that have lots of people most of the time--there are exceptions like the grizzlies in Yellowstone that pan handle on the side of the road...

Think of it as a giant park or your backyard and stay away from unfamiliar animals and bugs...
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Old 03-24-2011, 07:58 AM
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I would suggest an air mattress for under your sleeping bag, the ground can be hard and rocky. Don't forget that back of marshmallows. Try to see things through your children's eyes. Camping is a blast, keep an open mind.
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Old 03-24-2011, 08:39 AM
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Animals will forage. Keep all garbage and food in the car at night or when you're not at your site. Never never let your kids or anyone else take food into your tent. If you wake up hearing animals it is most likely racoons. They won't bother you in your tent--they're looking for food. Our minds are funny things in new situations and I can remember when I first started camping waking up and thinking scary thoughts about the animals out there and not sleeping. Earplugs might help and a booklight and good book. Thirty years camping in tents and I've had no problems other than bear tracks on the table or racoons getting into food I left out and eating the worms for fishing. I wasn't thinking of worms as food. And not to forget the wild horses at Assateague knocking over our screen house and rummaging thru stuff when we were at the beach. Now if I hear animals I think about getting up and looking but I'm usually too warm and cozy in my sleeping bag on my air mattress. Comfort & warmth is high on my priority list when camping. My kids grew up camping and love it.

Last summer I took my oldest son's family camping. His wife doesn't camp so they don't ever go camping. My son was so happy--he told me he forgot how much fun it was. Unfortunately, his wife got freaked out about the racoons and swore she didn't sleep all night because there was a bear out there so I don't think she'll do it again. There was no bear. My grandsons had a blast.

If you are camping in a rainy area a tarp for over the picnic table is nice and games to play under it if it rains. And lots of good food. Everyone always gets hungry camping. and a hammock....a pile of books....wine....is it time yet?
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Old 03-24-2011, 09:36 AM
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Hope for good weather, but prepare for rain. Being stuck in a tent in the rain is no fun, but it can be fun if you're prepared to laugh at it (and at yourself).

Try not to bring too much food, especially food that can spoil.

Don't forget to bring several light sources (flashlights, lanterns, etc).

What part of the country are you camping in?
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Old 03-24-2011, 09:42 AM
Location: San Antonio
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I second the flashlights, kids just love flashlights. Bring extra batteries.
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Old 03-24-2011, 11:28 AM
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Kids also love those glow-stick thingies (Coleman makes them), although they're slightly pricey - buy them in bulk. They come in different colors, and are useful mainly for marking out paths in the dark, not for serious illumination - although they do make decent interior light sources if you have a couple of them.

Light sources are pretty important especially if you are a novice camper because night comes on pretty quick and if you haven't got all your work done, the camping suddenly becomes less fun when you're stumbling around in the dark. Consider getting headlamps for the kids.
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Old 03-24-2011, 12:46 PM
Location: We_tside PNW (Columbia Gorge) / CO / SA TX / Thailand
20,790 posts, read 37,451,783 times
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Make it an adventure for the kids, They are very resilient and will remember the fun (and the catastrophes). Yes, that is part of camping, but don't get stressed and keep in mind the kids are enjoying the experience and time you are spending with them.

Let the kids make dinner (Hobo Stew, cooked in the fire)
When toasting marshmallows and they start on fire, DON'T wave the stick to put it out !! I did that and the Huge Flaming Mallow landed in my friend's curly hair, that was a catastrophe (It was several days walk to a place with a shower / bathroom / scissors.)

I like that rule above; no food (or sticky drinks) in the tent. (No flammables either !!! In or near the tent), I am a bit (more) cautious with fire
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Old 03-24-2011, 02:26 PM
Location: San Antonio
11,892 posts, read 12,505,062 times
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Don't take anything your not prepared to loose, that goes for clothes too.

Instead off taking the marshmallows and gramcrackers and candy bars try the chocolate covered cookies and marshmallows.

Cheap hand sanitizer makes for a quick clean up with no trash to dispose of.
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