If you’ve ever driven through a campsite and seen families having a lot of fun camping together and thought, “That sounds like a great family activity,” you’re right! Camping is one of the healthiest, funniest, most affordable experiences a family can get into. But if you’ve driven around looking at all the equipment and skills needed to learn how to camp and thought, “I’ll never be able to learn how to do all that,” then you’re wrong. It’s really not that hard to learn to camp and every step along the way is a lot of fun for everyone.
So How do We Get Started?
So how do you start learning to camp? There is no doubt that there are some teams involved and learning to set up a camp, use their equipment to enjoy a night of eating and sleeping in the open spaces and then get home safely requires a little bit of a learning curve. For many parents who want to start camping to give their kids those experiences, the idea of buying all that equipment is intimidating. And you don’t want to get the wrong equipment and then have to buy it all back. Those kinds of mistakes can kill your enthusiasm for expanding your love of camping into a passion for camping.
Go With an Experienced Camper
So one of the best ways to learn to camp and try out camping equipment is to camp with someone who is good at it. Many families with camp experience have extra equipment or know other families who will loan you equipment to try out at your first camp. If one of your friends or your children’s friends are experienced campers, you will find that they are probably evangelists about it and happy to let you accompany them to their next camp to show them the ropes. If they can help you borrow some equipment, you can learn to use it and try out different camping options so that when you are ready to buy your own equipment you know what you like and don’t like.
Another great way to get a certain camping experience without buying a thing is to get involved in the camping organization. If you have children, Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts are organizations that are geared toward developing life skills and are heavily dedicated to camping. Most scout troops have a large arsenal of camping equipment and leaders are almost always experienced campers with a gift for teaching.
It is the mission of the scouts to train new recruits at the finer points of camping so that you can accompany them on some camping outings and learn some great camping skills. Scouts also actively encourage parent involvement so that mom and dad can learn to camp with their children. Who knows, but you may get involved with explorers just to harvest some camping skills and find yourself hooked and becoming an enthusiastic explorer boy or girl for life. There are worse things that children or an entire family may be involved in.
What Will You Need?
After getting some exposure, you’ll want to think through what kind of tents, sleeping bags and other gear you’ll want to buy while you release your family camping hobby. Many tents for two people are inexpensive and easy to transport, assemble and disassemble. But if you’re going to have the whole family in one tent, you may want to look for a larger family tent where mom and dad can stand up and that offers plenty of space for equipment and children as well. But look ahead in your camping life. As children grow, they may want to move into their own tents to think about how their first initial tent will fit into the larger camping scheme as you grow into your camping ambitions.
Another consideration is whether you will need electricity and water at the campsite you visit or if you will take care of it yourself. Many beginning campers prefer to use electricity and water to make it easier for parents who are learning the tricks of the trade to camp. But remember to bring extension cords and water hoses so you can take those resources to camp and even to the tent with you.
Also, think about the space in your vehicle for camping equipment and how you will transport your new equipment to and from camp. You probably don’t want to buy a vehicle just for camping at first, so learning to pack light and just take what you need will be an important skill for you throughout your camping career.