In the midst of trying to sell things off and pack the other things we are not selling I am also trying to compile the needed items for the camping that will be happening as we make our way across country.
There are so many things that make camping more enjoyable. I find that when the little things are planned out it makes the experience so much better.
For me practicing the tent set up and being proficient at that is a big thing. If you double check your tent for holes, rips and tears as well as making sure all the poles are there it will be less stressful when you get there to set up.
Air beds certainly make it more comfortable to sleep out. I recently found twin size air beds for all 4 children for less then 20.00 each. I jumped on the chance to get them so that each child will have their own air bed. When buying an air bed be sure that you get a sturdy one. The ones I found are Coleman brand and I know they have a great product that us durable.
Sleeping bags are certainly a must. I insisted we buy cold weather ones because even if you are camping in the summer you really can't know how cold it will get over night. The average temps at night can drop even in the summer to 40* or lower depending on the area.
I insist on having a folding card table when I go camping. This can be used as an extra prep space for food or a place to sit and play games in the evenings.
I have a two burner Coleman camp stove. I always buy extra propane tanks they are not that expensive and the small ones last a long time, but you just never know how long it might take to cook because altitude effects cooking times.
I also always bring my cast iron pans. Should something happen to my Coleman, or I run out of propane I can cook directly over the fire pit. I have a cast iron griddle, 2 large frying pans, 1 medium pan, 1 small pan and 2 dutch ovens. I always bring wooden cooking utensils and one metal spatchula for flipping pancakes. Cast iron gets hot and if you try using plastic you can melt your plastic cook ware.
Another very important item to bring is a sharp hatchet. You will need to cut firewood and kindling for a fire. Even if you think its summer time and it wont get cold enough for a fire you would be wrong. Those early morning hours are chilly. Not to mention the need to be able to start a fire to cook with should your camp stove go out is an important one.
Speaking of starting a fire... there are some important tricks to starting a fire and being responsible with your fire. If you are camping in a state park they have fire rings that are built for the sole purpose of building your fire in it. Always use it for that purpose only. If you are not camping in a state park and there are no designated fire rings build one! This is for your safety as well as the safety of the forest around you. Building one is easy. You will need a little shovel (my husband calls them E-tools, this is his Military code, but they are shovels that fold and take up little space.) and a few rocks. Dig a shallow pit that is at least 3 feet across and be sure there is no debris around the area. Line the perimeter of the pit with boulders as large as you can find and carry in the area. These do not have to be really large but you do have to surround the pit with them. Once you have built your fire pit you can start building your fire. Depending on the rules for the area you are camping in you can either gather natural materials for starting fires or you may have to chop kindling from your fire wood. Some good natural starters are moss, dried twigs, leaves (be careful though because leaves tend to smoke a lot). You can also use newspaper, if you are using newspaper be sure that you do not use the shiny paper of advertisements. If you use newspaper a trick my grandpa taught me years ago was to use a full length and tie it in a knot and lay them in a tee-pee pattern intermixing them with twigs or kindling.
Lets not forget a first aid kit! I pack a first aid kit that contains both natural remedies and emergency fixes. I think that I am going to expand on this in another blog. I am realizing that this blog post is growing and growing. I will even go as far as to tell you what natural remedies I always carry in my first aid kits.
I store all of my camping gear in a large plastic tote. The tote keeps everything together so that I always know where everything is. I go through it and make sure that its all there, because you never know when some little gremlin will make off with your stored item's ya know!
I also have a tote that I keep all my dry goods in for planned out meals. I prep pancake mix and put it in gallon bags so that I just add the liquid and we have from scratch pancakes. I also plan out what meals we will have when camping and pack my ice chest accordingly. I pack with day one on top and work my way down each day so that I do not have to dig through the ice chest to find any items. it works out beautifully. I keep a smaller ice chest for everyday items like condiments for sandwiches or drinks. I buy bottled water and freeze it so that we have plenty of drinking water and no messy ice. Freezing the juice or water means that I don't have to buy ice at the store and we can drink the defrosted part and still have cold drinks.