Saturday, July 18, 2009

Top Ten Things I Learned While Tent Camping

I have not gone tent camping since I was about 3-years old and camped out in Banff National Park in Alberta, Canada. (Is the location correct Mom and Aunt Marilyn?) Suffice it to say, I don’t remember anything about the experience except that it was cold. Now so many years later, I have tried tent camping again. Here is what I’ve learned:

  1. Don’t put gin in a water bottle. It is too easily mistaken for water by a very thirsty 10-year old boy rooting through the cooler looking for water. That first gulp was quite a surprise!
  2. Bacon grease acts as an excellent flame enhancer. Draining off the excess bacon grease into the campfire really boosted those flames. Who needs lighter fuel?
  3. Bring extra blankets. Even if it is 90 degrees when you are loading up the car and setting up the tents, it gets cold at night. This is Minnesota after all. I learned my lesson after sleeping curled up in a ball under a very thin blanket.
  4. Ban all kid electronic devices. Somehow those Nintendo DS games made it into the tents. No more! Although the kids did have fun out fishing, playing football, and chopping wood.
  5. Portable iPod speaker are a good thing. Bringing along your own tunes worked out well. Plus the speakers aren’t so loud as to disturb the other campers. (Our band of rebel children did that all on their own.) It provided some late night campfire entertainment when the 6-year old boys decided to show us their dance moves.
  6. Pit toilet technology really hasn’t changed much since the 1960s. Enough said.
  7. Bring lots of firewood. Who knew that we would burn through so much wood? We ran out twice. The late night wood raid was very stealthy and resulted in lots of wood but the breakfast raid in the brilliant sunshine was a bit more difficult.
  8. Smores are essential for dessert. How can you go wrong? This is probably why we needed all of the extra wood. Also, don’t let one of the Moms be in charge of the chocolate as it tends to disappear rather quickly.
  9. Good friends and good food can override most negative camping experiences. ny bad experiences that we might have had quickly disappeared into laughter amongst friends. This trip was all about the food and wine. We ate a delicious dinner cooked over the fire and then spent the evening sitting around the campfire. The kids and the birds woke us up bright and early to yet another scrumptious meal of pancakes, bacon and eggs.
  10. Stay for two nights, not one. Camping is a lot of preparation even before you’ve left your driveway. Then setting up camp takes a few hours. This is not even counting all of the laundry and clean-up once you arrive back home smelling like last night’s camp fire. Next time we are staying for two nights given the amount of work that goes into a tenting excursion. 

Will I tent camp again? There is talk of another tenting trip in the end of August so stay tuned!

If you are interested, we camped out at the Rice Creek Campground which is in the Rice Creek Chain of Lakes Regional Park Reserve located about 25 miles north of St. Paul, MN. There are bike trails, a swimming beach, golf course, and a boat launch. For more information, see their link at:

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