If you had asked me 2 years ago whether or not the idea of sleeping in the woods was appealing, I would have answered with a hard no. Like, what?? Why would I leave the comfort of my own home to sleep on the ground in the cold mountain air? And have you heard of cougars?? I’m not sure about you, but running into a mountain lion doesn’t exactly sound like a day in paradise. However, last year, good friends of ours convinced me to hit the back roads and follow them to a hidden spot in central Alberta that promised to be a “great time”, according to them. Reluctantly, I agreed. We compiled a list of supplies, packed our gear, and left town.
It was one of the BEST experiences we have ever had the pleasure of as a family. I did not expect it would be and I am happy that I was proven wrong.
The site was easily accessible which was initially a worry for me. We were set up right next to a creek with crystal clear free flowing water. Perfect. And the scenery? There’s no words to describe it. We set up camp underneath a canopy of trees that provided some shade from the hot sun throughout the day. Our friends were prepared with materials to set up a simple yet effective tarp shelter. Underneath, we had portable picnic tables with easy-to-use camping stoves side by side, ready for outdoor cooking. Side note, fried perogies with red onion with a side of bacon to start the day just hit’s different while you’re camping.
After a couple of days of immersing ourselves in the camping life, we packed up the goods, and headed back home. Now, it’s probably clear to you that I am no expert in the outdoors. But I did learn a few things that may help you if you have also been apprehensive to embrace the outdoor life.
Here are 5 things I learned that could help make your first camping trip a success.
- Make sure you have the appropriate size tent with sturdy weather ready material
Depending on the size of your family, you will need to make sure you have the capacity to fit everyone in there. If you have adult size children, this could be a challenge. We have a 6 person tent, but to make it work, we had to do some creative layouts for everyone to feel cozy. You also want to make sure that you have an outdoor mat for underneath your tent, and tarp as well if possible. This will help prevent any unintended moisture that could make it’s way inside. In addition, I’d recommend having a mat just outside the entrance so you can kick off your shoes and not track any mud or filth onto your bedding. Make sure you pack foam toppers for the air mattress and extra blankets for the cooler nights.
- Invest In a Portable Toilet
An absolute game changer – this one thing made the outdoor life feel a little more civilized which was crucial for this city boy. The waste pods that help to break down any – ahem – solid material are readily available at any camp supply shop. Cleanup is made easy, just follow the instruction and make sure to dispose of waste far away from any water source or populated areas. Basically, common sense, and respect for the environment is key here.
- Potable Water is a Must
Sounds like a no brainer, right? But this is probably the most crucial item in your supply list. This is going to be your source of drinking water, toilet water, dish washing water, coffee water, and anything related. The caveat to that is make sure to be near a water source and boil the water in a camp-ready pot. There are many options for cookware available to do so if you go that route, just be prepared to go back and forth to the water throughout your stay.
- Pack More layers than you think you need
If there is one thing we can guarantee about the weather is that we can’t guarantee it. Changes can happen quickly and inclement weather is no fun – if you get wet, chance are you won’t be able to dry off right away. Extra clothes – socks, undergarments, sweaters, light coats – are essential to make sure you are prepared for quick weather changes so nothing dampens the experience.
- Coolers and Enough Food Supplies and Snacks
Let’s be real here – we all love our snacks next to the fire. Smokies, Smores, and other camping goodies round out the experience. That said, I learned the hard way that if you don’t pack enough for your stay, an impromptu (and wildly inconvenient) trip into a nearby town will have to happen. Make sure your coolers are packed with ice, and kept closed and out of the sun. Additionally, CLEAN UP AFTER YOURSELF. Wrappers, food leavings, and opened packaging can attract curious wildlife. While we love our wild friends, we also want to keep them, and ourselves safe from any undue harm that could be prevented just by looking after your campsite and keeping it neat and tidy during your stay.
One last note – if you are new to the camping lifestyle, you will benefit from learning how others do it. In our case, our friends are veterans in this department, having experienced camping several times over the years. There are many resources online that could help you know what to buy and how to set up camp. And if you need a place to stay that has some basic amenities nearby, why not check out Black Sheep Camp River near Rocky Mountain House? They are a family friendly, easy to enjoy campground with beautiful and scenic experiences to explore nearby. Book your site today!
By Jay Munoz