First time Camping: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.

First time Camping: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.

My family loves camping….well, now we do, but let’s just say our first time out was not pretty.

I planned out our first camping trip…boy did I plan. I mean I had lists, lists and more lists of things we needed to buy and take on our first family camping trip.

I went out and bought (invested in) camping gear…all sorts of camping gear. I bought the BIGGEST tent I could find, tools, small burner, inflatable beds, a thingy with a motor to air up the beds, flash lights, batteries, pots, plates, utensils, firewood, fire logs, a pop up canopy, and they were all in matching colors. (LOL) I bought the store, basically.

I planned for this trip and made a list of items needed but all from the comfort of my living room and in my not-so-experienced camping mind. Ergo:

The good the bad and the ugly.

Good:
The place where we Camped was amazing: Hemet Lake, California. The spot we picked was perfect too, right on the lake front. The spot was  nice and big, perfect for my HUGE tent. The weather when we got there was in the low 80s with a slight breeze. The view, oh the view, was just breath taking. Across the lake a mountain range was nestled and perfectly blanketed with pine. We rented a small boat and loved racing across the lake. Everyone got a turn to drive the boat. We even made it over to a small secluded island like area across from the lake where we went on shore to explore. At night we made dinner: hot dogs and smores. We enjoyed the stars and the moon showing brighter than we were ever used to. The talks around the camp fire were priceless. Just awesome.

Bad:
The tent was way too big lol. I mean the thing was HUGE. The setting up part took…a while and was somewhat frustrating. We brought too much food. It was only a three day two night stay but we could have been there a month and still had food left over. We forgot to bring bored games or a radio or a Frisbee, balls, horse shoe game or something to fill in the down times throughout the weekend. Eventually, we even spent an hour and a half round trip going to the closest available store to buy a card game. We did not bring enough blankets and so when we started noticing that it was going to be cold, right before the Lake Hemet store closed,  just in time, we were able to buy another sleeping bag.

Ugly:
For starters, we forgot got to bring coffee. Coming in at a close second to the no-coffee or on the same level, our huge tent did not have a cover but a netting for a roof. There was a tarp that covered the netting but nothing to keep out the cold air from coming in and turning us into blocks of ice. Our first night was horrible. The noise from the wolves/coyotes, at first, was fun to hear but on into the night, it was unbearably loud. We could have sworn they were upon us. All bundled up and ready for bed, the temperature started to dip. It kept dipping. And then dipped some more. The netting above us was not at all, obviously, stopping the cold air from getting into our living space. No amount of hugging or blankets wrapped around our heads was helping. I mean it was COLD. We ended up sleeping in our SUV. We later learned it had gone down into the mid 30s. Yikes!

We look back on our first camping trip and just smile. We have a few camping trips under our belt and feel like camping pros…now.

So here’s a little advise from Stay Home Dad for all you who have not yet, but plan on going on your first camping trip with the family.

– Don’t go out and buy the biggest tent possible. Smaller is better. More portable, easier setup and easier to clean.
– Plan your meals and the portions. You will not eat all your food and it’s not worth taking extra because of the extra weight and ice you’ll need to keep it cool.
– Bring a radio and your favorite bored/card games. It really makes for a better experience and gives you fun activities to pass the day away.
– Pay close attention to the weather for the area both the highs and lows and plan accordingly.
– Bring coffee.

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