Camping Girl Guide, Part I

IMG_5069This was how my campsite looked when I camped in Everglades National Park back in April.  It took a few camping trips to figure out what worked for me and what definitely did not work.

I LOVE tent camping.  For the most part I camp alone.  There is something so cathartic about being alone with nature.  It is peaceful.  You realize how self-sufficent you are.

Camping is a lot of fun, however, if you don’t come prepared, your experience will be less than favorable.  Here are some of my tips for a fantastic camping adventure.

First, a disclaimer.  I am not a girl who hikes off into the wilderness alone with a backpack and roughs it.  In my opinion, it is just too dangerous for women to travel alone or even in pairs off in the back country, unless they are both very experienced.  I ALWAYS stay in a campground with people around.  Safety first.  ALWAYS.  That is the only way the people in my life will let me go off alone with my tent and camp.  I will address safety later, however, it is always first and foremost in my mind.

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Tent.  I need a tent made for 4 people for me and all of my stuff.  That is all.  I travel with a lot of stuff.  I am a photographer.  I have a lot of gear.  I want to be comfortable, and comfortable for me includes a cot, with an air mattress on top and a sleeping bag, and a place to store all of my stuff.  Next to my cot I have a “nightstand ” like this one

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(not the exact container shown in this photo but will remedy that on my next trip).  This is one of my containers I bring along full of camping equipment and when emptied, serves as an awesome bedside table.  I have a battery operated clock, a small lantern, medications, my toothbrush and toothpaste and bug spray.  You can NEVER have enough bug spray on a camping trip.

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Inside of the tent  is a nylon pocket  I store other little goodies, such as a mini-flashlight, pepper spray (if needed), and my handy Swiss Army Knife — I love that knife.  Thank you to my stepfather for that little precious gem.

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I store my gear under the cot (or locked up in the car), and have my toiletries and other items I think I’ll need on a daily basis readily available within close proximity to the opening of the tent.

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Camping at the beach has its own special challenges.  YOU NEED SHADE.  I have tried all sorts of different methods to achieve this.  My ideal shade shelter for the beach has a floor that is sewn in.  Good Luck finding that.  I found a shelter with a floor built in, but it did not provide adequate shade.  You also need tent stakes specifically made for sand. No way around that.  The stakes need to be at least 12″ long.  The wind at the beach is your friend, but also your enemy. The wind cools you off and keeps the bugs at bay, but it also wreaks havoc on your shade shelter as you can see at the top of the photo above, the blue thing arced and bowed is from the wind, and eventually it takes down your shade shelter.  I am still experimenting on that one.

Also, when camping at the beach, I place a tarp underneath my tent a few feet as a “front porch” so to speak (as you can see in the above photo).  I have a mat at the door of my tent to wipe off my feet as well as a broom or feather duster to further aid in keeping the sand out of my tent (thanks, to my friend, Doris, for that suggestion).  You do not want sand in your sleeping bag at the end of the evening, TRUST me.

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Camp in Everglades National Park.  I was on the grass, and the shade shelter above (which had no floor) was great for shade, but not so good at keeping out the flies and mosquitoes.  Bug spray and citronella candles are essential to survival when camping, anywhere.

End of Part I

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2 Comments

  1. Doris September 2, 2013 at 10:24 am #

    SO glad to see you beginning the “Camping Girl” series on your blog! You are a great teacher who turned this girl into a camper – loved seeing pics. of our site too! I look forward to camping on the beach again next year and also to your future installments on this series. (still so much to learn!!) 🙂

    • kathypassmore September 2, 2013 at 11:17 pm #

      Thanks, Doris, you did a great, and looking forward to camping again.

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