Friday, June 24, 2011

Our 8 Worst Camping Mistakes

Hm.. I wonder what that sign means?

Every camping trip is an opportunity to gain nuggets of wisdom by making mistakes ... and let's just say some of us have gained a lot of nuggets.

Here are our 8 worst camping mistakes, at least so far:

 1. Arriving late

There's nothing quite like setting up a big tent in the dark while three kids say (not in unison but repeatedly) "Can I have a S'Mores?" Cue the mosquitos. Seriously, I know it's hard to get out of the house, but get to the campsite by three. Then you can unpack while the kids play, make a big fire and locate the flashlights and the bug spray before dark.

2. Setting up in a valley

Each campsite has its own eccentricities and it's your job to figure them out. We once pitched our tent in what turned out to be the bottom of a little slope. It seemed inconsequential until it poured that night and the tent filled with water. A little rain is nice, but not on your feet at 4am.

3. Camping on a slope

Usually, when you choose a campsite with a tent platform, it means the site is built into a hill - thus the reason they put a platform there, to provide you with someplace flat to pitch your tent. Which is fine when you're sleeping. But the rest of the time you will find yourself, your kids and your belongings constantly rolling down the hill.

4. Being all relaxed about the tent zipper

I think the first thing we taught the kids was to CLOSE THE ZIPPER! on the tent, and we probably yelled it about a hundred times just to make sure we got our point across. And then ONCE we relaxed our vigilance - ONCE! - and spent the whole night swatting mosquitos out of our ears. Don't be like us. Be vigilant.

5. Not bringing enough warm things

We always bring plenty of things for the kids and they have warm sleeping bags but once we didn't bring enough blankets or clothes for the grownups and had to steal the children's little shirts to wear as hats. Nice.

6. Forgetting salt, coffee, tea, sugar or a corkscrew

It's a sad day when you can't salt your steak or open your wine. And for some of us, morning can be  bleak and meaningless without coffee.

7. Not hanging up the garbage

There may not be any bears near where you're camping, but I'll bet there are dogs or coyotes. There's nothing like meticulously picking up every little bit of foil or what-have-you to leave a nice, neat campsite, then coming back from your nature walk to find your garbage strewn all over the site. Yuck.  So bring a rope and tie the garbage up high to a branch.

8.  Disregarding posted signs

If the sign says, "Caution: Electric Fence" and has a big zig-zaggy lightning bolt on it, that probably means it's an electric fence. That doesn't mean, "Try it and see if it's an electric fence."  Zzzt!

Have fun, and as Sergeant Esterhaus (Michael Conrad) used the say on Hill Street Blues, "Let's be careful out there!"


  1. Those are great tips! My favorite is number 3, only for the image of little children rolling down a hill every time they step out of the tent.

  2. It was like, "Look out for the - woah - slow down!" every time they came down to the campfire.

  3. Could not resist that title, and... so true.

    Thanks for tips,... it's me, CBone

  4. LOL! I have to go camping with you guys!

  5. @cj Well, the food's good, anyway.

  6. @Cbone - and those are only the worst ones! I already thought of another terrible mistake we made having to do with Google maps. Next installment I guess. :)

  7. Great post and words of camping wisdom! Mine would be to remember the broom and own when camping at the beach. I always forget that and our tent is full of sand!

  8. Anne, you genius, that is so true. A broom is key!

  9. Love these. One of our first camping trips, I was really busy getting everything and everyone else ready that I forgot my own pillow. Whoops. So I just used wadded up clean clothes. But then they got dirty. Yuck. Now my pillow is the first thing I put in the car! :)