Why Camp?

Why Camp? Explore your options!

Why Camp? Explore your options!

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Each year, the day we come back from camping is the day we start the countdown for the following year!

So why camp? What is so great about it that a non-camper should try it, at least once?

I believe the main reason to camp are to enjoy nature, to relax, view wildlife in a natural environment, and to gain a sincere appreciation for modern conveniences (absence makes the heart grow fonder!). But HOW does one camp?

There are soooo many forms and ways to camp that if one doesn’t work for you, another probably will. I think to some people, “camping” means no showers, catching your own food and sleeping on the ground. While, yes, there IS that form of camping, that is for extreme-campers. Being loyal to Algonquin Park, my husband and I see that as “interior-camping”, where you need to bring everything you camp with and make sure it fits into a canoe, because you’re going DEEP into the bush, where there are no options for you if you forgot something.
Paddling is so peaceful!

Paddling is so peaceful!

There is car-camping, which is what my family and I do. We don’t ‘sleep on the ground’, we have an air mattress, and while it’s not the best thing in the world to sleep on, for one week, we can manage. We camp in a campground that offers showers and laundry facilities, and also has a store (where everything is a lot more expensive than anywhere else). It’s not quite roughing it but it’s not necessarily glamorous either.

If these options don’t work for you, you can buy or borrow a small tent trailer, which offers actual beds, a table and dining benches, and depending on the trailer, other modern conveniences, such as a fridge, stove, storage, etc.

And of course, if you want to take home with you when you leave home for your vacation, you can camp in an actual camper. Some models offer showers, microwaves, air conditioning, satellite, etc. These kinds of vehicles can be QUITE expensive, but to some, they are worth every penny.

Gazing into a campfire right before bed... there is nothing like it!

Gazing into a campfire right before bed… there is nothing like it!

Despite all of the options, the entire point of camping is not how you camp, it’s all about the experiences you have while you’re there, and who you camp with. Camping is great for family bonding, and educating children on the importance of taking a break and enjoying nature. Nature is extremely relaxing, and it’s proven that exposure to nature can reduce stress and blood pressure.

Feel free to share your comments on your love for camping!

8 Things to Not Camp Without!

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As I’ve stated before, each year I try something new… Pinterest is definitely my weakness and I’m always scoping out new ideas, or trying to adapt an idea from there, to the amazing world of camping in the great outdoors.

I have come up with a list of things you should absolutely not leave home for a camping trip without.

1. Wipes

Just like any well-prepared mom, you know that when your kids are little, not to leave home without the baby wipes. They are indispensible when you are out camping! They don’t have to be “baby wipes”, per se. You can get any kind of disposable wipes. While we do have a water jug, soap and a towel handy at our campsite, sometimes you just need something quicker. When preparing food outdoors, you can’t always go touching everything on your way to wash your hands… and this is where wipes come in handy. And of course, some things never change, your kids will almost always make some sort of mess, right?

wipes

2. Antibacterial Wipes

I’m listing this seperately because there’s clean, and then there’s antibacterial clean. When you’re handling meat, like bacon, or your pre-made, frozen crockpot meatloaf, you don’t want to risk contaminating anything else you might be preparing. These wipes will save the day! Another thing I like to do is wipe down the tablecloth on the picnic table before we eat. Those chipmunks and squirrels really DO get everywhere.

disinwipes

3. Hanging Shoe Organizer

This is huge for me, I was sooo happy with this when I set up our kitchen tent this year. Usually, we just toss all of our camping items in the totes and store them in the kitchen tent, usually under the ends of the picnic table. Then, when you’re fumbling around, in the dark, looking for those roasting sticks for hotdogs and/or marshmallows, you are digging through absolutely everything you’ve already used that day, plus making a complete racket. This invention is the solution to that problem.

kitchentent

I actually borrowed it from my oldest son, who was using it for some odds and ends in his bedroom (at the time of this post, he hasn’t replaced it, even though I’ve returned it to him… maybe it will go “missing”?) I packed the hooks it comes with, just in case they would work with our gazebo/kitchen tent, turns out, they did. I hung it up, and I had all kinds of pockets to sort all of our cutlery, wipes, cooking spray, paper towels, foil & zipper-topped bags… Anytime someone asked for something, BOOM! It was in front of them because it was soooo much easier to access.

4. S-Hooks

You can buy these at any hardware store, in various sizes. You can see in the above photo, I have bags hanging off to the side, some pretty, dollar store oven mitts, etc. They’re all hanging with S-hooks. LIFESAVERS!

5. Plastic Tablecloth with Seat Covers

I don’t have a photo for these, because every selection in every store is different. I bought a set, white-and-red gingham-patterned, for $4.97 @ Walmart, in the sporting goods department, namely, the camping area. You really do get what you pay for… this set was pretty cheap and thin, however, for $5, even using it for the 5 days we camped, it was worth it to me. And, it’s recyclable, so you don’t even have to clean it and pack it to come home. (For the record, I did, because I think I can get at least one more season out of it before getting rid of it!)

6. The Crockpot

Also known as “glamping”, as I’ve stated before, if you are lucky enough to get an electrical campsite, this baby is going to save you a lot of time in the wilderness. Prep and freeze all your meals in advance, store in large zipper-topped bags. Pop into the crockpot (minus the bag 😉 obviously), and set to high or low, depending on what your activities are for the day.

This is NOT to say that quick, easy and delicious meals cannot be made without a crockpot. Of course they can… but since we went electric, I seem to have forgotten most of them!

7. Your Tassimo/Keurig

Go ahead. Laugh it up. I’ll wait.

Finished? No? Okay… I’ll wait a little longer…

Okay, REALLY, that’s enough 😛

If you’re bringing the crockpot, you may as well bring your gourmet coffeemaker. People have laughed at us ever since we first started bringing it with us. We met family members for breakfast one morning, and offered coffee… while the kids sipped on their hot chocolates. There was some disbelieving giggles. The laughter ended quickly once they were sipping their drinks!

Think about it. These babies make everything. Tea. Coffee. Hot Chocolate. Lattes. Cappucinos. Heck, they even make iced tea and iced coffee. Why NOT bring it? Instead of packing coffee, tea and hot chocolate all seperately, you buy your favourite cups, bring one machine, and voila! I find it much easier to put all my Tassimo discs in one zipper-topped bag, and go.

As far as “glamping” goes, we’re well aware that this is the limit. =) However, there is something to be said for the people who bring RVs, fully loaded with air conditioning, WiFi, showers, the works. I’ll stick to my Tassimo, thankyouverymuch.

8. Disposable Dishcloths on a Roll

Got a greasy mess after cooking bacon and eggs on the griddle? The crockpot meatloaf left the dishcloth orange? Toss it into the fire, and grab a new one! Done!

washcloths

These items are definitely the most important ones to us… what can you NOT live without when you go camping?

A Girl in Nature

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Hello, and welcome to my new little nook on the web.

If you know me, you also know that I used to run a cake business/blog over on Blogger, and that I shut it down to spend more time with my family. Family is definitely the priority in my life, and I enjoy our time together!

If you don’t know me,  I am sarcastic, funny and just a tad OCD, so if you’re at all like me, I’d be thrilled to have you follow me!

Anyway, we have just returned from our annual family camping trip to gorgeous Algonquin Provincial Park. With our 20+ years of camping experience, a lot of friends ask me what I bring, what kinds of foods I pack… how do I make it as simple as possible? So I thought I would share my tips and tricks, and I need to be quite honest, I am forever on Pinterest to scope out new ideas! There is ALWAYS a new idea on there, so every year, I try something new.

Up until this year, we have always had to borrow a family member’s van to go camping. Recently, we bid farewell to our humble servant, our 1998 Dodge Neon, she was with us for over 14 years. She saw one trip to Algonquin, two kids, several evenings at the drive-in, trips to Ottawa, Kingston, Dunnville and Ohio. Deciding to stick with the same brand, since it did so well for us the first time, we’ve recently purchased a slightly used 2013 Dodge Journey. We absolutely love her, and love that we don’t need to inconvenience anyone when we go back to our favourite place on earth!

journey1

She has already seen many of the places I’ve mentioned above, and our boys love it too because they can plug all their gadgets in and pair their iPads with the stereo.

Anyway… back to the real topic! Camping.

After you have gone camping once or twice, you usually have a good idea of what to bring, what not to bring, what you have a good chance of forgetting and what might make the next trip just a little better! Years ago, a friend asked me for a list of things to bring, so I sat down and typed it all out for her. I still use that list today! Of course, through the years, it’s been edited and changed slightly, to coincide with technology and the lack of or gained space, and of course, our changing interests. Always start with a list! In fact, each year that we come back home, I make a small list of things to replace in our camping gear so that we can buy it ASAP and already have it in there when we need it the following year.

totes

Aside from the master camping list, your stuff needs to be stored. I have been using Rubbermaid totes for several years now, and I find that they are handy because they are both durable and stackable, have lids that actually stay closed, and fit well under our basement stairs. A good way to start out with this is to buy one or two and try them out in your vehicle. We had four of the largest totes, and they fit well in the van, but they didn’t quite cut it in the Journey, so we had to swap two out for half-sized totes, in order to fully utilize the space we have in the back. This led us to downsizing some of the stuff we brought with us this year, but it didn’t affect our activities or the amount of fun we had!

I hope this inspires you to pack smarter for your next trip to the great outdoors. If you’ve planned ahead well, your trip will truly be easier and happier! Next post: the crockpot!

I welcome your comments and any tips you’d like to share 🙂