Surviving camping 101 for the hopelessly inept

I’m not much of an outdoorsy person. My idea of “camping” is sitting alone with a blanket and a good book. Preferably indoors — so not really camping at all. I guess I could be persuaded to go read said book in front of a fire though.

I did go camping this past weekend however, and was teased mercilessly by extended family for my ineptitude at “roughing it.”

If the trees could talk, they’d probably be laughing at me too.

If you are a homebody like me and are forced into the great outdoors sometime this summer by your loved ones, below is some light-hearted advice for how to survive the experience.

If you’re an avid outdoor person you can probably skip this one. This is for the amateurs with a sense of humour.

My first point of advice: don’t go.

If you really hate being around bugs, being too hot or sleeping in a tent, you don’t have to go. My sister left her husband at home so she could actually enjoy the experience without listening to him complain. Her words.

I’m not so bad as all that though, and for the most part, I enjoyed camping. Sleeping outside was an adventure, as it’s still a novelty. Being outside is proven to be good for your emotional well-being as well.

Being outside with relatives with larger-than-life personalities who constantly find something to nit-pick you about — now that, I haven’t seen any stats on.

That brings me to my second point of advice: If you really want a vacation, just go with your immediate family. Large reunions, especially when people are thrown into an unfamiliar situation, can just cause more stress and take the fun out of it. Extended family can be like wasabi: they’re meant to be enjoyed in small portions.

Also, don’t put ripe bananas in your cooler. They won’t stay “cool” all weekend and all your food will wind up tasting like old bananas. Yuck.

I’m a minimalist when it comes to packing. I don’t want to lug around a bunch of things that we don’t really need, and camping is supposed to be about the basics. However, next time I will remember to bring pillows. I defintely recommend pillows.

It’s also probably a good idea to test if everyone in your family can fit in the tent you have before you leave home. Just a suggestion.

If staying clean is a big point of concern for you, there are some things you can do to make the experience more bearable.

For handwashing, hang a plastic container with a hole poked in it and a nail or twig on a string can plug the hole. Attach a bar of soap in an old piece of pantyhose and voila, you have a handwashing station.

When my kids whined about needing a towel to dry their hands and I exclaimed in exasperation that they don’t use one at home so they don’t need one when they’re camping, it was pointed out to me 1) Camping shouldn’t be fancier than at home, and 2) … There was a towel, it was just hanging a little higher in the tree.

Take from that one what you will.

Also, bring plenty of wet wipes and coins if your campground has a shower facility.

Another gaffe I made was trying to hold a crayfish before receiving proper instructions on how to do so. How was I supposed to know you had to hold it by the tail? Anyways, it got away and quite a few people were disappointed with me. So there’s that.

Also, if you have kids and you’re camping in bear country, you’ll pretty much need to follow them around with a battery-powered hoover (if there is such a thing) to make sure there aren’t any crumbs on the ground. Or at least to appease your family members who are worried about bears coming into the campground.

In all seriousness, if you get the chance to go camping this summer, you should take it. Getting outside, away from screens, in the fresh air and nature is good for all of us.

And hey, mock me all you want for wearing a full-sleeved top all weekend, but I’m the only one who didn’t get sun burned or heat rash. So who’s laughing now?

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