A welcome opportunity to take a break from the hectic life in the big city, unplug from technology, and put away personal devices, camping allows folks of all kinds to enjoy scenic views, a breath of fresh air, and perhaps even the company of wildlife. If you haven’t tried camping yet– we gotta tell you: it’s an awesome experience. There’s nothing like answering the call of the great outdoors and reconnecting with Mother Nature. Here is some camping for beginners tips to make the best of your first experience.
Camping is a fun and often laid-back outdoor recreational activity for American families, usually away from heavily populated areas (such as towns and big cities), out in the countryside, and close to nature.
While camping usually involves roughing it out in tents or sleeping bags under the stars, many families opt to do so in recreational vehicles (also called RVs, campers, or motor-homes).
Families usually go camping as a perfect vacation activity with the kids (and even pets) in tow. But camping can certainly be enjoyed with friends or solo as well. Camping is also a convenient option for those attending big concerts, music festivals, or sporting events.
The camping experience may be customized according to age, taste, and comfort level, so beginners or those new to camping can have as much of a good time as more seasoned outdoor enthusiasts and hardcore adventure-seekers. As such, camping is commonly planned alongside other fun outdoor activities, such as fishing, cross-country skiing or biking, hiking, rock climbing, swimming, among many others.
The History of Camping
So how exactly did camping become the favorite recreational activity that it is today?
You can say that people have been camping for centuries now, as far as when tents have been in use. Native Americans used wigwams, while nomadic Central Asians lived in yurts. And don’t forget armies on the move roughing it from one battlefield to the next.
As a recreational activity, however, camping became more popular towards the end of the 19th century. The founder of modern recreational camping was Thomas Hiram Holding, who wrote the first edition of The Camper’s Handbook in 1908. In it, Holding detailed his own experiences and included expert advice.
Holding also founded the first camping club in the world. By 1907 his camping club had merged with a number of other clubs to form the Camping Club of Great Britain and Ireland. Notable members included Antarctic explorer Captain Robert Falcon-Scott and Robert Baden-Powell, founder of the scouting movement.
After World War II, with more people finding more novel ways to spend their leisure time coupled with the mobility afforded by everyday vehicles, recreational camping had also become more organized.
The rise of recreational vehicles (RVs) has, in turn, also resulted in the proliferation of more public and commercial campsites catering to the growing RV market. More campgrounds have also started offering electrical and water hookups that provide most of the conveniences of home in an outdoor setting.
As the camping market continues to grow, so do technical advancements in camping materials and gear. Camping equipment today is a lot more lightweight, durable, easier to assemble, and designed with the modern-day camper in mind, allowing for a much safer, much more convenient, and much more enjoyable camping experience.
What Are The Benefits of Camping?
Youth groups like the Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA), the Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA), and many others have incorporated camping as part of their regular activities.
More than just an outdoor activity and a lesson in wilderness survival, camping develops the virtues and values of teamwork and self-reliance as well.
Whether you’re young or old, camping is good for you for many other reasons:
- Reconnecting with nature. Camping allows you to experience nature through out-of-the-way places with fresh air and wide-open spaces.
- Reacquainting with family. Camping makes for the perfect natural setting for family bonding, and sharing experiences and making new memories together are also very beneficial for families.
- Unplugging. In the great outdoors, you don’t find computers, tablets, or televisions. There’s so much else to do that does not require electronics, and time away from technology can help reduce your stress as well.
- Building new skills. Roughing it out in the great outdoors also helps you learn new things and gain better proficiency at different things. Whether it’s building a fire, setting up a tent, or climbing a rock wall, there’s a ton of skills to learn that we don’t usually get to do in our everyday lives.
- Growth of confidence. With greater proficiency comes a welcome boost in confidence and self-esteem. One of the benefits of camping for youth is that it allows them to learn independence in a safe and controlled environment. Adults could also use a similar boost as well.
For more benefits of camping, check out our article, “What Lessons Can You Pick up While Camping (That You Won’t Learn in School)?“
When is the Best Time to Go Camping?
While camping is a year-round activity, the camping season peaks in the summertime.
Summers are typically the most popular season for camping since the weather is generally warm and dry. This is when all the campsites are open and you get the most activity in terms of tourists and all sorts of folks looking to get some camping done as well.
For this reason, it may be better to go camping in the spring or in the fall. Many campgrounds are still open, you still have a lot of options for outdoor activities, and you have the added benefit of having fewer people camping along with you and your family.
How To Camp (for Beginners)?
While some people might consider camping as a sport, it is still very much recreational. This means the real goal is to just soak in the camping experience and enjoy.
That said, camping does entail quite a bit of preparation. In fact, one might argue that planning for your camping trip is part of the fun.
- First things first: scout out a suitable campground for your camping trip. Most of this can be done with a little research online. But you’ll probably want to also make a few quick calls to confirm your details.
- You’ll also want to put together an itinerary of things to do while you’re out camping. We’re talking about outdoor activities, stuff you’d want to do around camp, as well as places to visit along the way.
- Next: get your gear together. That includes everything from camping equipment to food and water, to weather-appropriate clothing, and other essentials.
- Safety and preparedness should also be on your mind the whole time. This means you’ll want to pack a first aid kit, necessary medicines, emergency gear, and other extras.
- Be a responsible camper. You’ll want to not just think about minimizing your environmental impact but also be considerate to your neighboring fellow campers as well.
- If you have an RV, you’ll want to check that everything is in good working order and that you’re well-stocked for your trip.
Let’s get into each of these in greater detail.
How Do I Choose a Suitable Campground?
Perhaps one of the biggest decisions that you will have to make for this adventure is where to actually go camping. There are lots of campsites out there, like state parks and national parks. Research where you want to go and take time to study where you’d like to spend your vacation relaxing.
Many Internet camping sites have pictures and reviews from campers who have been there before. To find the campground that will suit you best, make sure you know what the campground offers and what others have said about their experience.
If you are camping with kids, read reviews from families to find out if your kids will also enjoy their stay.
Other tips to keep in mind when choosing a campground:
- Check for available amenities. Yes, this is camping but it doesn’t mean that you have to go back to the Stone Age to enjoy it. It would be best to know if there are toilets, showers, or a safe source of potable water available. These are just a few of the necessities that campers often neglect to inquire about, expecting that the place would have these amenities.
- Consider convenience. Remember: camping can be a strenuous activity. It requires physical strength and mental preparedness. That is why going there and getting home from the campsite should be the least of your worries. Be sure to use all your stocked-up energy for your camping trip and not get lost in the woods just because your chosen camping ground has not provided convenient access for its guests.
- It pays to know the reputation of your campsite. You would want to know if accidents happen there frequently or if gears disappear in the middle of the night. If there are reports of increased wildlife activity, recent accidents, or assaults, you might want to reconsider camping there in the first place.
- Check your site once you arrive. If you are using a tent, make sure you find a flat surface free of any ditches with nothing that could poke into the tent. Watch for overhanging tree branches that could blow off in windy weather. Position the tent how you want it to stand, making sure it faces where you’d like it.
Remember that the best camping sites tend to get booked rather quickly once the camping season begins so it’s always a good idea to plan your trip well in advance in order to find the right destination.
Speaking of convenience, if you are someone who has a hard time putting up a tent, you might want to consider renting out a trailer for your next camping trip. It’s like bringing your home to the great outdoors without all the hassle. You get to experience fresh air, a good view, and a relaxing morning in the comfort of a soft bed, warm shower, and a hot meal.
Check out our related piece, “What Should I Keep in Mind When Choosing a Campsite?“
What Sort of Activities Can I Do While Camping?
Another reason why camping is so much fun: think of all the things you can do on your trip! In fact, some people might prefer to plan the entire expedition around a particular activity like fishing, mountaineering, or cross-country skiing.
Outdoor activities commonly planned alongside camping may include:
- cross-country cycling
- dirt biking
- horseback riding
- snow activities
- winter camping
Don’t forget that you can also check out other locations on your way to (or coming home from) your campsite. You’ll certainly find no shortage of historical landmarks, local restaurants, tourist attractions, and other places of interest to visit.
You might also want to have activities planned out for when you’re in camp. Of course, there will be plenty of things to do (like cooking, building a fire, pitching tents, etc.) as it is. But you’ll also want to plan something special for your kids or your pets while out (and disconnected from their personal devices). Games, musical instruments, or even crafts might keep the delightfully occupied in between activities.
Traveling with the little ones? Check out our article, “Tips For a Camping Adventure with Kids.”
What Should I Prepare for Camping?
What you will need to bring on your camping trip has a direct effect on how your camping adventure will turn out to be. If you bring too little (especially when some of the essentials are left behind), you may not have the best time. If you bring too much, it can be too overwhelming.
Check the Weather
Even the best camping spots have weather patterns, so plan your trip accordingly. Looking into the weather for the time you plan to camp can make a great start to your trip, giving you an idea of what to prepare for. You can also change the location or time you plan to camp to give you the best experience.
On the dates of your camping trip, be sure to get detailed information about the weather that will welcome you at the campsite. This way, you can properly protect yourself against the heat of the sun, a sudden downpour, or even a chilly evening. If you have an idea of what you are facing, you can easily pack an umbrella, your bag cover, or light but warm jacket.
Camping Equipment Essentials
Bring the essentials but consider bringing extras. Packing appropriately and wisely is key, so do not make the mistake of forgetting these basic supplies:
- first aid kit
- lanterns with extra batteries,
- a multi-tool
- two-way radios
- cast-iron cooking gear
- basic tool kit
- water containers
- bug spray
- extra fuel for lanterns
- citronella candles
Toiletries such as tissue rolls, wet wipes, toothbrushes, toothpaste, soap, and other personal hygiene products should also be on your list.
Food and Water
Keep in mind that you need to bring food and water as well. Plan how long you’ll stay and then decide on how much food and water you will need to bring.
Plan meals ahead of time. Save yourself an immense amount of stress at the campsite by planning meals; this includes the prep, recipes and ingredients, cookware, and planning how long meals will take to cook considering the method you choose to use.
If the campground doesn’t have cooking spaces, like barbecue pits or fire pits, bring food that doesn’t require much in the way of cooking. Also, decide early on what food you’re planning to bring. This way, you will know at least how many plates, spoons, forks, knives, and bowls you might need to take.
Test Everything You’ll Be Using
If you’re using equipment like air mattresses or gas burners, make sure they are in proper working condition before you find them broken at the campground.
Remember to clean anything that will be handling food, especially if you’ve used it before. Replace any batteries and pack spares in case any run out. Make sure any equipment, especially tents, is functioning and ready to be used.
What To Wear When Camping
Dress to camp, not to ramp! You will need to dress comfortably for your camping adventure. However, this doesn’t mean that you should just wear any piece of clothing that you are comfortable with. Take note you should wear nice and comfortable clothes well suited for your outdoor adventures.
Are you wondering what to get someone who’s totally into camping? Check out our article, “What Are Some Recommended Gift Choices for a Camping Enthusiast?”
Enjoying a Safe Camping Adventure
Knowing that you are well prepared for your trip will allow you to have much more fun during your camping adventure. However, having too much fun without regard for safety might put you in trouble.
Here are some safety tips to keep in mind when out camping:
- Pack with safety in mind. A responsible camper is a prepared camper so be sure to come with all the appropriate first aid and emergency gear.
- Survey possible danger zones. First things first when going outdoors, ensure your safety. If it is your first time camping in the area, be sure to check out all the possible hazards of the place. Check if there are animals who nest in the area that may be poisonous or territorial in nature. You might also want to consider insects and plants that can sting or have thorns. Knowing these details can help you prepare ahead of time. If you know about them, you can bring cream, medicines, and other balms that can help you in case the unwanted happens.
- Practice fire safety. No matter where you are having your fire, you must always be vigilant when using fire in open land. This means you must always abide by the local fire restrictions and that you have enough water nearby, or an extinguisher if the fire gets out of hand. Likewise, if you must build a fire, use only the existing fire rings, use a fire pan, or build a mound fire. Once you are done, you need to let the fire burn the wood down to fine ash before pouring water on it, or dirt if you don’t have any water, before leaving the scene.
- Know your RV. Make sure you acquaint yourself and everyone on the camping trip with you of some of the basics of the trailer, should any emergency require them to know how to operate something on the RV; for example, the electric, water, and sewer hookups, as well as the location of first aid and fire extinguisher, are all things everyone should know about.
- Protect your food and waste. Make sure all food can be stored properly and all waste is contained. Many animals take advantage of food and garbage around the campsite, which can cause a nuisance during your trip as well as people visiting the same campsite later. Always get rid of garbage once a day or when leaving the camp. Most campsites have a dumpster for trash drop-off.
Tips on Camping Responsibly
There are so many simple and creative ways that a family can help save and preserve the natural beauty of these campsites when out camping.
Now more than ever, it is essential for campers to practice responsible behaviors when out on camping trips, not the least of which is to practice water conservation and fire safety!
Here’s a list of responsible camping tips for some ideas and inspiration:
- Observe the boundaries set by the campsites. Don’t forge your own path through wild areas to make a site yourself. Since there are such a vast number of unique campsites sprawled across our country, there is no need for you to bushwhack your way through undisturbed wildlife in order to get a secluded or private spot. While one of the main points of camping is definitely to submerge oneself in nature, responsible campers abide by the restrictions and limitations set by the campsites and state officials, including those pertaining to where camping is permitted and not permitted.
- What you take in, you take out. One of the principles of responsible camping is simply that you should leave no trace (as best you possibly can), and that you should not leave anything behind or take anything with you when you go. This includes not breaking or destroying trees and other plants around the site for any purpose.
- Respect the privacy and campsites of your RV neighbors. Part of being a responsible camper includes being thoughtful to the people around you as well, primarily by practicing common sense by not being too loud after hours, maintaining a clean and hazard-free campsite, as well as watching over all children and any pets at all times.
- Help minimize your environmental impact by keeping local water sources clean. Do not use any detergents, soaps, or toothpaste within 200 feet of a water source, or drain any of your RV camping waste into anything other than the proper receptacle.
- Maintain a respectful distance from wildlife. It is wonderful to appreciate the beauty of wild animals from afar but it becomes problematic when we tread upon their territory or try and engage with them physically by freighting them or getting too close. It’s also important to remember to respect all signs and designated protected areas.
- Conserve water as much as possible. Whether you are washing the dishes, using the shower, filling up a personal water bottle, or boiling water for meal prep, there are always ways that you can help save water when RV camping! By using water tubs instead of running the tap constantly, scraping food off the plates entirely before washing them, filling up the sink when shaving, or even using CamelBack water backpacks, you can dramatically decrease the amount of water you use day to day throughout your camping trip.
The experience of camping has evolved over generations to become more enjoyable, accessible, and affordable than many other types of family vacations, and this evolution is largely thanks to the availability of the RV.
Also known as a camping trailer, a camper, or a motor home, the recreational vehicle has completely changed the way people experience the outdoors! Now more than ever, families across the country are ditching their tents and hotel reservations for exciting and memorable camping trips in RVs, and one of the simple reasons why is that RVs have helped to make camping fun again.
For one thing, your belongings are also much safer in an RV when you are away from the site as well, in addition to the fact that campers are also much better protected from bugs, the weather, and animals.
Comfort and convenience are also big advantages that come with RV camping. Having a recreational vehicle makes it possible to do so much more at a campsite than when without one. If you’re camping out in the open, then setting up camp will require a lot more effort and will eat up the time that you should be spending on relaxing or being with nature.
A Final Word About Camping
Camping is a fun family adventure that can create great memories and bond loved ones together. For many beginners, camping may seem intimidating at first, but it is very easy to make your camping experience worry-free and fun for the whole family.
What can make the camping experience less daunting with all the comforts of home and all the fun of nature? Adventure in Camping offers excellent RV rentals that will help you enjoy camping, especially if it’s your first time or if you have more important things to worry about.
In addition to providing high-quality vacation travel trailers for your family RV camping trip, Adventures in Camping offers the unique and timesaving service of parking your chosen trailer at the campsite of your choice so you don’t have to!
Moreover, you can rest assured knowing that your trailer will come equipped with a solid supply of materials that will make your trip easier as well, including basic cookware and eating utensils, and extra linens.