How to prepare for tent camping

Some of you are camping buffs, but others might be newer to the idea of tent camping.  There’s also the possibility that you personally love the outdoors, but you’re planning a camping trip with friends or family who aren’t as excited about the concept.  I fall into this category.

I love camping.  I love building fires and sleeping in a tent (or under the stars!) and the challenge of catching breakfast from the lake.  But my friends and family don’t all feel the same way.  My older sister loves camping…in a camper.  She’s just not a fan of the whole tent plan.  And my friends just haven’t really tried camping much at all.

So when it comes to planning tent camping with these people, I need to think carefully about their needs and their stressors.  I need to realize that what matters to them needs to matter to me, and I need to do everything I can to prepare them for the tent camping trip.  And I also need to do what I can to make the trip something fun for them.

Here are my top tips for before you go tent camping:

  1. Do a day trip with your family or friends.  Cook over a fire, go hiking, have a swim.  Whatever.  Get a feel for how comfortable everyone is with the outdoors and what the biggest challenges will be.  Knowledge is power, people.
  2. Talk to people.  Ask questions!  Is your five-year-old afraid a snake will get into her sleeping bag?  Does your husband hate the idea of being in the middle of nowhere if there’s an emergency?  Does your friend get cold really easily, and is afraid he’ll be freezing all night?  The more you know about peoples’ fears when it comes to camping, the better you can prepare your trip to alleviate those fears.
  3. Choose a location that’s best for your group.  For my sister…there has to be easy access to bathrooms.  You might want a place where you can park your car right next to the tent if you have people who are nervous about sleeping outside.  I have a friend who is terrified of bear, so if she were to come I would choose a state park that isn’t known to have them.  If there are small children, make sure you think about how many bugs there might be, or how dangerous the campsite is.
  4. Take it easy.  Just because I am up for a long hike, catching and cooking my own breakfast, and making a tent out of a tarp and some rope doesn’t mean it’s okay for me to expect my friends and family to enjoy that.  On their first tent camping trip, my family might need a campsite that’s right next to the car and a bathroom with showers.  Maybe we need to bring donuts, sandwiches, and juice boxes for our meals the first trip.  Maybe we need to have tents that are easy to put up and really large.  Maybe the weekend should be spent playing board games and reading by the fire, not repelling down a cliff. Realize that just going tent camping can push many people out of their comfort zones; don’t push too far!
  5. Bring the right supplies.  Those of us who go tent camping often are all about whittling down the packing list to just the absolute essentials.  We don’t want to bring a lot of extra supplies along that we’ll just have to put away later.  But when going tent camping with friends and family, we need to be willing to load up the car with everything we might need.  Your sister gets cold a lot?  Extra blankets and hand warms go in the car.  Your wife is afraid the kids will be bored?  Load up extra board games, cards, books, even electronics and car chargers.  Your friends don’t think food over the fire will taste good?  Bring extra soda, sandwiches, snacks, and water.  Bring it all!  And let people know you have those extra supplies, so they don’t stress about it.

What tips for tent camping would you add?

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