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Smart Family Camping: A Guide to Successful and Entertaining Camping with Your Family

Smart Family Camping

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Family Camping: Tent Camping Camping is an incredibly rewarding experience. We have camped for the sake of getting away for the weekend, tailgating, because we were in transit somewhere and had to, camped while horse camping, etc. One time, we actually had to camp for several nights because a wildfire came through, burned through our property and we had nowhere else to go so we built a fire to cook our dinner and broke out the tent that we saved from the fire. We thought our house was gone and virtually everything we owned with it but we were okay. Two things I grabbed from the house before the fire hit us was all our documents and legal papers and clothes. All our camping stuff was already in the camper and ready to go. This sounds like a "poor me" story but as it turns out, we went back to our house the next day. We had no power or water and couldn't just move back in but our house was in reasonably good shape. It took 32 days for the power company to get the electric lines back up, but the house survived intact. The point here is that our camping gear was ready to go and we used it. The experience of the fire made me look at our camping gear in a whole new light -- it made me look at our camping gear as a survival kit. I hope you never have to do that. In case you do, foods that have a virtually unlimited shelf life need to be included in your chuck kit. These include dried beans (pintos, limas, navy, kidneys) and other dried provisions (parsley, onion, apples, bananas, apricots, etc). I don't want to sound like a survivalist, but you can use your camping setup like a survival kit when you include 2 - 5 gallons of water per person, dried foods that have an unlimited shelf life (beans, etc.), canned goods and a really well supplied first aid kit. In a national emergency, you are ready to rock and roll. You and your family can be in really good shape from a national emergency standpoint simply by gearing up for a remote camping weekend. Camping is just a really good way to enjoy a weekend with the family. Women especially need to plan ahead because we get stuck with providing clean clothes, innovative menus and all the niceties of being home. For Smart Family Camping

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awhile, camping for me was a nightmare. I had to wash clothes in the most primitive conditions imaginable, produce food over a campfire (no gas grill here, sweetie!) and make like I'm having good time. So listen girls -- It's the man's job to cook the meat. Make that situation plain. Whether it's steaks, brats or burgers, make the guys cook. They will pay more attention because they have to eat what they charred. Or didn't char as the case may be. In truth, brats, burgers and steaks are much enhanced by cooking over the campfire in my estimation. If you and yours want or have to to keep to a gas fire, then that's fine. My preference is to cook over a really hot campfire. Personal preference here but brats marinated in beer for 2 to 3 days and cooked on a campfire grill are unbelievably good. So, in summary, for you and your family, you have to really reach to fail at having a positive camping experience. The kids will love it. The man will feel much more manly. It's just a win-win situation. And here's the super bonus -- the benefits of camping do not have to happen on the shoulders of Kilimanjaro or the peaks of Mount Everest -- it can happen in your own back yard. Yes. It is that much fun. Hard to believe, I know, but true. We have had some camping nightmares, too. The cause was primarily bad planning combined with back luck. One such nightmare was a trip to Ute Lake outside of Santa Rosa, New Mexico. We had just bought a brand new tent and were ready to do some serious fishing. We got the tent up with some difficulty and got everything else unloaded from the truck. That was no more than done and it started to rain. And it rained. And rained. The tent flooded because we hadn't put it up correctly. The ground that was hard before the rain started turned to mud and the tent stakes gave way. The tent started to slide down the slight incline it had been pitched on. Everything was wet -- food, clothes, blankets. It was a mess. We pulled the tent down and threw everything into the back of the truck. Fortunately, we were only about a hour away from home.

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When we got home, it was dark so unloading was left to the next day. What a mess. Virtually all the problems could have been avoided if we had simply done a practice pitch with the tent. We could have seen how the ground cover attached and that there was a way to attach the ground cover to keep water from coming into the tent. We could also have listened to the weather report. So here's the moral of this story: Be prepared. Practice with your tent. It may happen that you have to pitch your tent in the dark because you were delayed getting to your camp site. Let's Go Camping So let's go tent camping. What do we need to do first? If you don't already have a tent, you will need to purchase one. There are many, many styles of tents to choose from. Keep in mind, that for the most part, the only thing you will be doing in the tent is sleeping. Remember too, though, that in the case of inclement weather, you and your family may have to spend some extended time in the tent as well as some food preparation. So first points to remember: 1. Get a tent that is big enough to house your entire family at one time. A tent that is too small in bad weather makes for some ragged attitudes, particularly with small children. 2. Always pack enough food that can be served cold and still provide a decent meal such as sandwiches or cold chicken. 3. Always pack some form of quiet entertainment such as playing cards, checkers or even video games. Choose games the whole family can play. Let's get back to tent selection. For children the height of the tent is of no concern. This is not true with adults. For two adults backpacking and hiking, the choice will be for a small tent that is very light weight. Camping in a Smart Family Camping

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campground with four kids is another matter entirely. Be sure that the height of the tent you choose is something you can live with. Remember that you will have to crouch down to get into and out of the tent each time you enter or leave. Moving around inside the tent very much in a crouching position is very tiring. The tent must also be large enough for all members of the family to sleep without being crowded. An advertised eight-man tent is really only big enough for six people (or eight people that are very fond of each other). Things you will probably need: egg container/transporter salt, pepper cooler/ice chest ground cushion for sleeping sleeping bag (with or without cot) gas grill and tank eating and cooking utensils (dishes, flatware, pots and pans) lighting for tent and cooking stacking plastic containers for clothes first aid kit water and water containers games/playing cards activities gear (bat and balls, volleyball gear, fishing gear, hiking gear, etc) plastic bags in multiple sizes for trash, food storage, miscellaneous chairs, tables batteries of appropriate sizes food of your choice plastic or folding dishpan toilet paper Optional Portable camp toilet solar battery charger coffee and coffee pot ... and pretty much everything else except for your emergency kit.

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Your first aid or emergency kit should be supplied that in an emergency, the kit can be grabbed and you go. A small backpack is perfect. TInclude in your first aid kit: cord or rope to be used as a tourniquet band aids - from small to large gauze on a roll gauze pads adhesive tape ace-type bandages 3'' and 6" snake anti venom antihistamine aspirin ibuprofen alcohol or sealed alcohol swabs Q-tips compass matches/fire steel emergency Mylar thermal blankets tarp (at least 5' x 7'. 8' x 10 is better) water treatment tablets hatchet knife can opener 3 flares 50 ft of stout rope. Cotton is best rain poncho for each camper at least one mess kit 3 - 5 day emergency food bars (enough for each camper) Where to Buy Camping Gear You can spend a little or you can spend a lot on camping gear. I recommend that you start with the basics and see what you can't live without. Then add to your gear. Part of the fun of camping is the "roughing it" part. However, camping in luxury has its benefits as well. Good sources of camping gear are sports and outdoor retailers such as REI, Big 5 and the like. Watch for bargains at WalMart, KMart and Target. Amazon has some very good prices especially on larger items like tents, stoves and sleeping bags. Smart Family Camping

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Keep an eye on GoodWill, the Salvation Army and other thrift stores. These are excellent places to get used cookware, grills, flatware and blankets. You may find the occasional percolator coffee pot and other camping goodies. Military surplus stores have some good finds as well, but watch the prices. Another excellent source is yard and garage sales. It takes some shopping but the benefits are great. Storage Ideas Big plastic boxes are great for storing your camping gear, clothes and dry foods. When not in use, you can usually find boxes that nest to minimize space usage. And they are easily cleaned and not easily affected by water or spilled foods. They can also be disinfected without damaging them. Another advantage is that once stocked, you can just grab your storage boxes, load them into the car and you're ready to go with the exception of your food. Practice Makes Perfect Anytime you get new gear, check it out at home first. Put up the new tent and see how everything goes together. In fact, let the kids sleep in the yard for a night. It's fun. If you just bought a new stove, fire it up and cook dinner on it to see how it all works. Roll out your sleeping pad and sleeping bag to see how it feels. Do you think it will be OK for a whole night? Or maybe you'll find out that you need a different kind of pad. These things are good to know before you find that you're 100 miles from the nearest WalMart. The time to learn how to use a fire stick or a compass is before you find yourself in an emergency where you absolutely need to know how the thing works. Using a flare is pretty simple and it's not easy to test one prior to having to use it. However, be sure to read the instructions so that you have an idea of what you need to do and when you need to do it.

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Before You Leave and After You Get Back Home Go through all your gear to make sure it's clean and usable. Make sure all the necessary clothes are packed including extra underwear and socks. Inventory your emergency kit and replace anything you need to. Clean up your stove or gas grill so it's ready for the next outing. Your mess kits, plates, flatware and cookware should all be clean if you've washed everything while camping. If not, run it through the dishwasher. Restock anything that has been used up such as toilet paper, paper towels, etc. The time to check your tent for rips or holes is while you are putting the tent up or taking it back down. Tents are usually easy to mend. Tent patching material is available at most outlets that sell tents so wherever you bought you tent, you will find the patching material. Where to Camp Camp grounds vary greatly in their facilities from quite elaborate to nothing except a fire ring and a place to park you vehicle. The fees vary accordingly. Most state parks have a campground with toilet and shower facilities. Many KOA campgrounds have pools. Decide where you want to go before you get there. If you can, call the campground and get a list of the amenities available at that particular site. A good place to start your search for a good campsite is online. Simply search for "campgrounds" and the location where you want to camp. You will get a pretty good list of available campgrounds in that area. I have camped quite a lot in California, especially southern California. When I wanted to reserve camp spaces at state parks on the beaches between San Diego and Monterrey, I was told there was a two-year waiting list. However, when I got to the campgrounds at El Capitan, Pismo Beach and others, I found the campgrounds were almost vacant. We had no trouble getting camping space at any of the state parks. I am not recommending that you take off thinking there will be plenty of space without reservations, but you Smart Family Camping

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might consider checking your state parks first before pulling into a WalMart parking lot. Now that we live in New Mexico, there is no waiting list at any of the campgrounds, state or otherwise. What I'm saying is check out the situation first. If you are camping at a primitive site, you will definitely need to pack more gear than you would if you are staying at a KOA. Think about where you will be and what you need to not get stuck there should something happen. For example, we used to go to Baja California to camp and we had to take two spare tires because there is nowhere to get a tire fixed within walking distance should a tire go flat. Some of the towns in Baja are a hundred miles apart. And when you get away from the coast, distances are even greater. If you are driving into remote areas, take a five gallon can of gasoline or diesel and leave home with a full tank of fuel. Be sure you always have plenty of water with you. Conclusion Camping, for those who enjoy it, in really fun. Kids seem to love it without exception. If you ever went camping with your family, I will bet that you have some really fond memories of it. Your kids will, too.

Go camping. Relax. Enjoy the outdoors. Don't take so much stuff that you spend the entire time unpacking and packing back up. If you don't enjoy cooking, bring already prepared food -- sandwich makings, Church's fried Smart Family Camping

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chicken. Get some potato salad at the deli. This a time to enjoy, not work yourself into a frenzy. Pack a good book. Bring your fishing gear. Don't forget your good hiking boots. Get out there in the woods or the desert and let the world go away for a while. Happy camping!! Get even more camping information at http://www.smartfamilycamping.com portable grills for tailgating, rv parks and campgrounds, camp games, tailgate food, rv park reviews, camp 4, camp atterbury, camp beds, camp bow wow, camp games, camp sites, campers world, campground, campgrounds, camping, camping 2, camping accessories, camping and general, camping bc, camping beds, camping biarritz, camping cassis, camping chair, camping chairs, camping checklist, camping club, camping cots, camping en france, camping equipment, camping food, camping food ideas, camping games, camping gas, camping gear, camping hammock, camping holidays, camping in california, camping in colorado, camping in cornwall, camping in florida, camping in france, camping in ontario, camping international, camping ireland, camping la rochelle, camping list, camping marseille, camping meals, camping nice, camping recipes, camping shop, camping shops, camping shower, camping sites, camping store, camping stores, camping stove, camping stoves, camping supplies, camping table, camping tables, camping tent, camping toilet, camping trailer, camping trailers, camping uk, camping world, campings, camps, campsites, caravan sites, coleman camping, cool camping, cotswold camping, free camping, go camping, lake district camping, lake george camping, camping, naturist camping, reserveamerica.com, rv camping, rv park reviews, rv parks, rv supplies, sleepaway camp, summer camps, tailgate, tailgate food, tailgating, tailgating recipes, trailer park, uk camping, vacances camping, wild camping, yosemite camping

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Family Camping Book