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Our family LOVES to camp! We love being outdoors in the beautiful mountains and just being able to get away from the regular day-to-day grind and relax. We live minutes away from some of the most beautiful mountains and so we have many options when it comes to camping.
However, we weren’t always campers. We actually went about 15 years without camping even once. There were several reasons for this, but the biggest was our son who has Autism and was a runner. We didn’t dare try to camp with him and risk losing him on a mountainside. He was very fast and darted at every opportunity, so we knew that wouldn’t be a good mix!
He’s almost 16 now and doesn’t run away anymore, so we finally felt safe enough to venture out with him. The past year has been amazing as I’ve rediscovered all I’ve always loved about camping while sharing it with my kids. Here are a few tips and ideas we’ve learned along the way. I’m also including my Checklist. This is a must for me, so I don’t forget anything. I am including it in PDF format so you can print it if needed. You can find it in my Resource Library. I import it into my GoodNotes app on my phone and use that when I’m packing things up. I find it much easier that way!
Tip #1: Keep it Simple
This has taken a little trial and error. Our first campout was too simple so we added more things each time until we realized it had become too much! Figure out what works for you and then keep it as simple as possible. The biggest thing for me, with this, is doing as much of the food prep before we go. That way, I just add things into the dutch oven and I don’t spend time chopping, peeling, etc. I also use as many paper goods as I can. I know it increases garbage, but for some of these, we burn in the campfire and the plastic utensils we bring home and wash and use again. I tried having camping dishes and washing them after every meal. This was insane for me! I spent so much time just getting warm water and enough water. It wasn’t worth it.
Tip #2: Recycle Soda bottles
I love this one! This is a recent discovery for our family and it has felt like pure genius! When we drink soda, we keep the 2-liter bottles and rinse them out. I store them in a section of my pantry until a few days before we get ready to leave on a campout. Then I fill up 10 of them with water (leaving a decent section at the top) and put in my freezer. I use these in my ice chests to keep them cold. I love how they will last about 3 days and when they melt, I don’t get water everywhere! I also use them for things like homemade dressing for salads! We bought an oil cone (not really sure on the official name, but my hubby bought it at a car part store) to pour the dressing into the bottle.
Tip #3: Create Fire Starters
I can’t take credit for this idea! I found it on Pinterest, but LOVE it! I keep the empty toilet paper rolls in a bag in my laundry room. Every time, I clean out my dryer filter, I add the lint to one of the rolls. Then I pack them up when we are ready to go! These work so well for starting fires. You can put it at the very bottom, layer some good kindling around it before adding the bigger logs. They start a little slow but it keeps it from burning out too quickly and by the time it burns outside the cardboard, it is a good enough amount of flame to burn the kindling. Plus, I love that I’m recycling things I would have normally thrown away!
I hope these tips will help you on your next campout! I’m also sharing the Checklist that I use. It can be found in my Resource Library! You can print it or import it into your favorite Notes app to use with your phone or tablet.
Free Camping Checklist Printable!
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