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Camping for the First Time: What Basics Do You Need?

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Choose a tent larger than you think you need.

Choose a tent larger than you think you need.

What Is Camping?

In my opinion, it's not really camping if you bring your portable TV, radio, playing cards, and just sit in the campsite listening to ball games, playing cards, watching TV, or playing with electronic game devices.

You can do all of those things at home. Camping is for a change of scene; for doing different things than you can do at home.

For one thing, you won't have electrical outlets for charging your devices. Most campgrounds disallow generators, and the ones that do allow them are pretty much set up only for the RV crowd. And—you don't want to run down your car's battery by using chargers that plug into the power port.

Before You Set Out to Go Camping

If you've never been camping before, there are a few things to keep in mind, and prepare for. First would be to research the area you want to travel to, and second, what items you will need. The second list could be long or short, depending on how many in your family, and how long you will be staying.

If you have been before, but perhaps you had a bad experience with a school or scout camping trip, and have cold feet about it, you might be more comfortable with practicing the set up at home in your own back yard. However, for it to feel like real camping, you have to "outlaw" any kind of electronics. No TV, no radio, no cell phones, no video games, etc.

This way, you'll easily find out what you didn't need; and more importantly, what you may have forgotten that you absolutely need, but while it's easy to get hold of. If you want a true test, then you have to pretend that you are miles from home, and figure out a workaround.

Minimum Needs For a Weekend Trip

Let's assume for a moment, that you have decided upon your destination, researched the availability of campsites and travel time. Now, you just have to pack. But what should you bring?

Years and years ago, I used to think that "be prepared" meant to bring everything you might possibly need in any situation. Not so. That leads to over packing and making things too complicated. Rather, to be prepared means to have some dual purpose items, as well as being able to be flexible and improvise if something has been forgotten.

  • One change of clothes for every family member; two if very young kids are involved
  • Towels; one per person
  • Soap
  • Roll of toilet paper
  • Sleeping bag for each person
  • Padding of some kind to go under the sleeping bags
  • Tent
  • Flashlights; one per person, plus battery lantern for inside tent
  • Cookstove
  • Cooking and eating utensils; keep it simple with one fry pan and one saucepan and a couple of serving spoons; coffeepot for hot water
  • One plate per person, and one set of knife, fork, spoon per person
  • Easy-to-prepare food, such as freeze-dried and 'just add water' mixes
  • Covered pail for fresh water
  • Plastic dishpan for washing dishes
  • Propane lantern for outdoors
  • A small first-aid kit

To Elaborate on the List Above...

Here are some more points to consider when putting together items from the list above.

Change of Clothes

A single change of clothes is fine for the adults; you may need more if very young kids are involved. For sure, as the moon rises and the sun sets, at least one will manage to face-plant in the dirt, fall into a creek and get wet and muddy, or spill food on themselves. You know your own kids best, so judge by that. (One of mine definitely tended to be a walking mudball!)


The same goes for towels—one each should suffice unless you have those "accident" prone kiddos. (I love water, and my childhood specialty was "accidentally-on-purpose" falling into a creek.)

You know kids; they can go from clean to filthy in a heartbeat

You know kids; they can go from clean to filthy in a heartbeat


You want to simplify with your soap. Choose a multi-purpose one that can be used for washing up yourself as well as your dishes. The original blue "Dawn" brand is good for this, as it's gentle, and biodegradable. (It's the one rescue groups use to bathe animals caught in oil spills.) Divvy it up into small plastic bottles, one apiece, and keep the larger original bottle for dishwashing.

Toilet Paper

Beginner-suitable campgrounds do have bathroom facilities with flush toilets, sinks, and often also showers. However, sometimes the TP has run out, so bring a bit with you on your trip to the loo, just in case.

Sleeping Bags

You want a sleeping bag for each person. If you and hubby want a dual zip-together bag arrangement, you'll need a bag each, but be sure they are the same style and brand, or the 'zip together' feature may not work.


You want some kind of padding between you and the ground. Even in a tent, only the tent fabric comes between you and the ground. An air mattress is a great choice, but so is a self-inflating pad that doesn't require pumping up. Or, you can just use a couple of old blankets folded up underneath. You know your own comfort level.


Make sure your tent is large enough for your family. In general, choose a size at least one larger than you think you need.


Each person should have their own flashlight, including the kids. For the adults, to see where you are going, or look for something inside the tent. For young kids, they can be a comfort, like a night light. Don't forget extra batteries!


For cooking, you'll need a simple camp stove, just two burners should be adequate, for all you may need to do is use a saucepan or frying pan and a serving utensil or two. A metal coffeepot is good to have for heating water; you can have instant coffee, hot chocolate, instant oatmeal, or tea, as well as warm water for cleanup.

Cooking and Eating Utensils

For plates, one per person, and I prefer plastic plates, as metal ones make the food cool off way too fast. It cools off fast anyway in the outdoors, but metal plates make it worse; plus, when the food is still hot, you can burn your fingers on the plate under the food, only to have it too cold to enjoy moments later. (For your very first trial, you might even want to just use heavy-duty paper plates and disposable forks, etc.)

Easy-To-Prepare Food

Food should be ridiculously simple to prepare, such as freeze-dried whole meals and other just-add-water mixes. To make it even easier, make dinner your only hot meal; use cold cereal (or instant oatmeal if you want warm food) for breakfast, and sandwiches for lunch. Peanut butter is great, but (take my word for it), leave the jelly home; it will manage to travel onto everything in camp, not only making a sticky mess but also attracting undesirables such as ants, bees, and possibly worse.

Covered Pail

At campsites suitable for beginners, fresh water is piped into the campground, but not usually at each individual campsite. So, you want to fill a pail to have handy at camp, and be sure to have a bungee cord or piece of rope to tie the lid on, so raccoons won't get in and contaminate your water supply.


A propane lantern is a good thing to have for evenings outdoors. They throw about a 100 foot circle of light, so you can sit at the table and chat or play old-fashioned games with the kiddos until it's time to tuck them in. Never, ever take this kind of lantern inside the tent, however, as that is very dangerous.

First Aid Kit

For first aid: don't try to bring an entire clinic along. A few band-aids, gauze pads and adhesive tape, a small pair of scissors, tweezers for splinters, and some antibiotic ointment should do you just fine.

But What if I Forget Something?

Forgetting stuff—it happens even to experienced campers. Trust me; I've been down that road more than once!

One time, I'd gone camping alone for a weekend to escape the teenage angst my daughters were going through. I needed a break to have some peace and quiet. Just a weekend, so I packed lightly, too lightly!

I found myself heading for the shower with a few dishtowels instead of my beach towel, which I'd forgotten to pack. It was not an efficient way to dry off. Forgotten items are very rarely a trip-killing disaster; it's usually just an inconvenience.

Where Do You Want to Go?

Your first task before even packing is to decide where your camping vacation will be. Do you prefer mountains and lakes? Beaches? Forests and streams? Desert? Make that choice first, with how far you are willing to travel also kept in mind.

If you have small children (or teenagers, for that matter), you don't want to be driving for hour upon boring hour to arrive at your destination. For a first time trip, I'd suggest staying fairly close to home, not more than two hours out, and on a normal weekend, not a big holiday. You don't need all the crowds and hubbub for your first time.

If you go on the off season, which means while the kids are still in school, a weekend will be a nice, quiet getaway before the summer crowds arrive. Naturally, some areas are not open in the off season, due to weather conditions, and that's another thing to think about.

Keep in mind that many, if not most, state parks and recreation areas now require reservations, and they are mandatory at national parks. This is especially true in the peak season. For off-season use, it is best to call and inquire. You can go to the "Reserve America" site to find a directory of campsites. This is a comprehensive list covering all states nationwide. Reservations are made from there by clicking the appropriate links: the individual parks do not handle making reservations.

Plan Ahead!

Once you have decided where you want to go, map out and plan your drive, departure from home, and arrival time at the campground. If you are heading into the mountains, remember that once you are off the freeway, winding mountain roads have lower speed limits, and it will take longer to get where you are going.

You don't want to arrive late in the afternoon, because setting up a tent in the dark or semi-dark by flashlight is not fun. It happened to me once, and the result was one of the tent pegs going right down an ant hill! It was only discovered the next morning, when we got up and found the tent covered in ants! Yes, we moved the tent!

In the mountains, with dense forest canopy, it gets quite dim well before the sun has actually set, so plan to arrive not later than noonish. That way, you're all set up, and have time to relax from the drive, and scout out the area for any amenities.

Playing at Being Pioneers?

If you've never been camping at all in your life, you may have any number of reasons why, ranging from not having had the opportunity to something as simple as disliking dirt.

No matter. It is something everyone should try at least once. If nothing else, it is an excellent disaster preparedness skill to have. Those who know how to survive minus modern conveniences have the best chance of coming out on the other side of any disaster.

Meanwhile, you can think of it as playing pioneer, and imagine your vehicle as a covered wagon. Getting out into the elements of nature is a healthy and wholesome activity. It can re-charge your personal spiritual batteries and energize you in a way that is difficult to explain.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2011 Liz Elias


Liz Elias (author) from Oakley, CA on March 21, 2015:

Hello peachpurple,

Thank you so much. I'm glad you liked the article.

peachy from Home Sweet Home on March 20, 2015:

glad that you had enjoyed camping, lots of preparation is required.

Liz Elias (author) from Oakley, CA on July 13, 2014:

Hello there, PegCole17;

Thanks very much. I'm delighted to have triggered happy memories for you, and I'm glad you enjoyed my father's photographs.

Camping is such fun, but now that hubby is disabled, and his back problems are getting much worse, I fear our camping days are also relegated to memories for us.

Thanks very much for stopping by and your kind comment.

Peg Cole from North Dallas, Texas on July 13, 2014:

This truly brought back some fond memories of tent camping in Florida years ago. It is really important to travel light, while bringing all the things that are essential, like you said, a means to prepare meals, water and a comfortable warm sleeping bag - plus the tent. The rest is luxury but nice to have, like a clean towel, a toothbrush, shampoo, soap, matches, a flashlight, food . . .

We once won a contest and used the points to get camping supplies like a Coleman stove and lantern, fishing poles and other stuff that was nice to have.

Your pictures brought back such nice memories.

Liz Elias (author) from Oakley, CA on January 03, 2013:

Hello again, B.Leekley,

Camping is a lot of fun, as well as a money-saver. It is definitely worth trying if you've never done so before. Thanks for stopping by and for the votes.

Brian Leekley from Bainbridge Island, Washington, USA on January 01, 2013:

Up, Useful, and Interesting. I'm planning a cross country trip next spring, and if I decide to camp some nights to save money, I'll find this hub again when making plans.

Liz Elias (author) from Oakley, CA on May 09, 2011:

Hi, ParadiseForever--

Thanks so much for the comment and the kudos. I'm glad you enjoyed the piece.

ParadiseForever from Chennai, India. on May 09, 2011:

I do want to join you in camping Mrs. J.B. & DzyMsLizzy :-) What a wonderful way of enjoying the nature? Congrats Dzy for your win and thank you for sharing great tips not only for the beginners, but for readers like me who enjoy exploring the nature. Keep writing!

Liz Elias (author) from Oakley, CA on May 01, 2011:

Right on, Mrs. J.B. ;-)

Mrs. J. B. from Southern California on April 30, 2011:

DZY: BINGO!!!!! Go Camping, let loose. So you get dirty, your hair's a mess and there is dirt under your nails. That's living for the moment. Enjoying nature and not being afraid to be other than perfect. Life's too short ot enjoy it.

Liz Elias (author) from Oakley, CA on April 30, 2011:

Hi there, techiejonz, thanks for stopping by and for the kudos!

As to your question, believe it or not, it's tough to answer. It took me either 11 years, or a few hours, depending how you look at it. The idea for such an article has been in my head for the longer period, and over the years, I made several false starts.

Once I got going, and found my dad's pictures, it went quickly. (My own pictures are locked up somewhere in storage in an old-fashioned photo album!)

techiejonz from Philippines on April 30, 2011:

Hi there!! Congratulations. How long did it take you to write this article? I'm just curious. Thanks!!

Liz Elias (author) from Oakley, CA on April 29, 2011:

LOL Mrs. J.B. I presume you were addressing Dr.Amilia??


Mrs. J. B. from Southern California on April 29, 2011:

Come on... Lighten up... Camping is good for your soul... Let loose, have fun and live!!!!!

Liz Elias (author) from Oakley, CA on April 28, 2011:

@Dr.Amilia, Thank you so much for stopping by, and the vote! I understand that camping is not for everyone.

@kdupree, Thanks for your input. I'm glad I jogged some pleasant memories for you. Perhaps now, you'll make time to re-visit the experience. ;-)

kdupree on April 28, 2011:

I remember when I was younger. I had camping when I elementary. I wanted to do it again. Nice!!

Dr. Amilia on April 27, 2011:

Though I love the idea of camping but for some reason I would prefer to actually never have to camp, lol.

I hope that made sense. :P

Voted up!

Liz Elias (author) from Oakley, CA on April 27, 2011:

Thank you, Spindle. I hope you can come for a visit someday and take in all the sights. ;-)

Spindle from Surrey on April 27, 2011:

Interesting post. Wish I lived in the States to test some of those places out!!

Liz Elias (author) from Oakley, CA on April 26, 2011:

Hi, diogenes!

LOL--That sounds like quite an adventure, indeed! And I must thank you for contributing to my daily education--I had to go look up what a "jackdaw" was. Now I know! ;-) HA! Now I have another word to beat folks at Scrabble!

Thanks for stopping by--blad I was able to resurrect memories for you. ;-)

diogenes from UK and Mexico on April 26, 2011:

Very complete article as regards what you wanted to get across. Unfortunately, camping is a bear (sic) in the UK as the weather is usually awful, there's nowhere nice to camp, there's no bears and racoons to tease and feed (Ha!). I lived in the USA for years and that's where campers belong. The last time I went camping here I caught pneumonia, got a black eye, went home with a baby jackdaw and was expelled from the 4th Broadstairs scout group...I was 10! Voted up...Bob

Liz Elias (author) from Oakley, CA on April 26, 2011:

Hi, triciajean!

Thanks so much. It was a fun hub to write--full of nostalgia for me. I've one more to write on my blog of more personal stories that happened on our family trips in my own youth, as well as things that happened when taking my girls camping.

You are so right about campfire story-telling!

Unfortunately, the modern tradition of campfire story-telling seems to have devolved into the exclusive purview of spooky-scary-creepy-ghostly tales, rather than a passing down of knowledge. Ah, well.

Thanks so much for stopping by and the input!

Patricia Lapidus from Bantam, CT on April 26, 2011:

Hey, DzyMsLizzy, I think this hub will stay active for a long time! For all of us here, who are writers if not campers, your hub may evoke a gathering round the campfire for storytelling, an art much older than writing.

Liz Elias (author) from Oakley, CA on April 25, 2011:

Hi, stephhicks68--

LOL. Our kids sure do manage to have us learn things along with them, eh? Just chalk it up to fond memories-to-be, and tales you can tell when you're a grandma someday! ;-)

Glad you enjoyed the post; thanks for your input!


Stephanie Marshall from Bend, Oregon on April 25, 2011:

LOL - I am not a camper, but have reluctantly had to learn and enjoy with several young boys that are Scouts. This is such an awesome hub. Bookmarking and sharing with my fellow scout parents! ;-)

Liz Elias (author) from Oakley, CA on April 22, 2011:

LOL, Mrs. J.B. "..slept in a tree..." Hahaha. Sounds like something my younger daughter would have done, had she thought of it. Thanks for sharing!

Mrs. J. B. from Southern California on April 22, 2011:

I have never camped in a National Park but my brother has.. Slept in a tree as I remember.

I appreciate the fact that you are a woman that is of natural beauty as I am and that you are carefree.

Liz Elias (author) from Oakley, CA on April 22, 2011:

Hi, again, Mrs. J.B.--

Agreed...but I do love the National Parks, for they have so many wonderful things to see, the "full service restrooms" are, for me, something that is simply 'just there,' but I use them only for the minimal purposes.


Mrs. J. B. from Southern California on April 21, 2011:

I loved your response. Full bathrooms? outlets? Dresses? High Heels? That is not camping.

Camping is for going out on the lake at 6 am in a canoe, just admiring the natural beauty of the world. Running around barefoot, with wild hair and lord who cares what you are wearing. It is for eating hotdogs or fish caught that day and for meeting people from every walk of life that also said let's have FUN this weekend...

I went camping every year, climbed mountains, saw black bears etc... The best memories of the yester years...

Liz Elias (author) from Oakley, CA on April 21, 2011:

Hi, Nell--

LOL... I've been there, done that, in a manner of speaking. Check out my blog posts for more personal tales than Hub Pages'll find the link on my profile page for Stray Thoughts on A Leash. ;-)

And thank you so very much for leaving memory of your own, and thanks also for the kudos! ;-)

Nell Rose from England on April 21, 2011:

Hi, Oh this brings back so many memories! lol my first trip into camping left me very wet! we put up the tent and it was sunny, the next day we woke to find we were soaking wet! it had rained in the night and we had slipped down the hill, it wasn't meant to be a hill, but it turned out that way! lol by the way Congrats! yeah! cheers nell

Liz Elias (author) from Oakley, CA on April 20, 2011:

Hi there, Mrs. J.B.

I agree! And the 'spoiled whiners' should be issued standard blue jeans and stripped of their makeup and appliances before leaving home!

Would you believe, I've been camping in places such as the national parks where they offer "full service" restrooms, complete with electric outlets...and I've seen women in there blow-drying their hair and putting on makeup.

One gal was even in a dress and high heels!

I felt like saying, "Hey--it's CAMPING--not staying at the Ritz or meeting the Queen of England!" But I just shook my head and went on my way.

Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing your thoughts! I'm glad you enjoyed the hub.

Mrs. J. B. from Southern California on April 20, 2011:

Camping is fabulous. No blow dryers, make up etc. required. Everyone you meet is a memory forever in your life. I suggest that everyone go camping. Even the spoiled whiners.... Great hub. Very informative and worth reading..

Liz Elias (author) from Oakley, CA on April 18, 2011:

Hi, Jeff_McRitchie--

Thank you so much for the nice compliment. I am happy this hub is being so well received.

Jeff_McRitchie on April 18, 2011:

What an excellent overview of camping. Even experienced campers can get something out of this Hub. Good job!

Liz Elias (author) from Oakley, CA on April 18, 2011:

Hi there, KidsPartyFavors!

Glad to share. Camping is fun for families--I remember fondly our camping trips when I was growing up. Thanks for stopping by!

KidsPartyFavors on April 18, 2011:

My family loves camping! This is great for families!

Liz Elias (author) from Oakley, CA on April 17, 2011:

@Lori Cotten--I'm glad to have stirred up your memory banks and inspired you to set your own adventures on paper. Your young men will surely appreciate that! How lucky can you be, to grow up right in a state park! Thsnks much for the vote!

@K9keystrokes--Thank you very much! I'm glad you found the hub useful--apparently it stirred some memories for you as well--I'm a very experienced camper, but I can't even imagine trying to spend the night in a foxhole! Military operations hardly qualify as R&R. ;-) Thanks so much for stopping by!

India Arnold from Northern, California on April 17, 2011:

Nice job! And congrats on your win, very well deserved. Your advice on first time camping is quite helpful, as are your more advanced tips. I love camping and have done it from every imagined aspect stemming from a foxhole in the Air Force, to a beautiful cabin lakeside. Each, as you point out, has its individual credits. Awesome and voted way up.

K9 ;)

Lori Cotten on April 17, 2011:

Thank you! You have just brought me back to some priceless memories I have of camping when my young men were little boys. You've also inspired me to write some of them down. I loved camping when I was younger, I actually grew up in a State Park in Minnesota. I am voting for you, keep up the good work, I enjoyed reading!

Lori Cotten

Liz Elias (author) from Oakley, CA on April 15, 2011:

Thank you very much, Green Lotus!

Just for you, then, may I recommend the Chateau Lake Louise in Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada. ;-) Gorgeous setting...historic first-rate up plenty of pennies, first! ;-)

Hillary from Atlanta, GA on April 15, 2011:

Congratulations on your big win and for a great hub! Of course my ideal camp site is still a cushy hotel room overlooking a scenic lake :)

Liz Elias (author) from Oakley, CA on April 13, 2011:

Hey there, KarenT--fancy meeting you here! ;-) Thanks for the input...much appreciated!

And BTW--you are now being followed..... lol....gonna put up some poems??

Catch you later!

Karen T. on April 13, 2011:

Good job, mom!! Brings back memories for sure!! I like what nature has to offer, but as I get older, I find myself wanting creature comforts such as a bed and plumbing. I could not sleep on the ground now! :-)

Liz Elias (author) from Oakley, CA on April 12, 2011:

@travel_man1971--Thank you very much!

@WannaBWriter--Oh, Prairie Creek Redwoods is beautiful. did a 2-week "Redwood Highway" trip when my kids were in jr. high..great fun, great memories...and a funny story more suitable for a blog entry. ;-) And thanks very much!

@Les Trois Chenes--It's not for everyone--I only hoped to provide a nudge to anyone undecided. ;-) Thank you very much for stopping by!

@Paradise--Thank you! Yes, the KOA's serve a purpose with their own niche. A word to the wise--don't stay at the one near Graceland in TN!! It's right under the flight path for an airport, and the FedEx and UPS cargo flights are taking off all night. We got no sleep at all! (And that was even with cheating--inside a cabin, as their tent slots were all taken!)

@PeggyW--Thanks so much for stopping by and adding that info. You are absolutely correct about even toothpaste..and that goes for in the tent, as well.

As for inside the cars, we were advised that as long as it was covered up, so the bears could not see things they recognized, and the windows all rolled up tight, they generally would be unable to smell the car's contents. Problems can certainly arise if the window is open a tiny crack, or if the window seals are shot.

If you are choosing between a cabin and the car, yes, the cabin is probably a better choice. But it's all relative. Between a tent and a car--choose the car!

And yes, you can hang food from trees...but I didn't go into that, as it verges more on a back-country thing for backpackers. ;-)

Thanks so much for your input!


Thanks to everyone for their congratulations! I was certainly surprised to find I'd won this prize!

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on April 12, 2011:

Great guide for people thinking about camping for the first time. Just a note...when my friend and I stayed in a cabin in Yosemite, there were instructions as to leaving NO FOOD...even toothpaste!...anything with an odor in our cars. They had pictures of damage done by bears smashing windows and doing damage to the cars.

I guess that is why pioneers used to hang their food high up in a tree if they did not have caves or buildings in which to store it.

Congratulations on your win! Well deserved!

Paradise7 from Upstate New York on April 12, 2011:

Pretty good hub, makes me want to go camping!! I'm a KOA type woman.

Les Trois Chenes from Videix, Limousin, South West France on April 12, 2011:

Nothing, not even your article, will persuade me to go camping unless I absolutely have to. Congratulations on your win.

Barbara Radisavljevic from Templeton, CA on April 12, 2011:

I'm afraid my camping days are over, but I did used to enjoy it. My favorite camping experience was at Prairie Creek State Park in Northern California. Wish I'd had your hub to refer to then, since it was also my first camping experience. Congrats on your win.

Ireno Alcala from Bicol, Philippines on April 12, 2011:

Congrats, DzyMsLizzy! This is a very timely hub especially summer is here already. Thanks for sharing!

Liz Elias (author) from Oakley, CA on April 11, 2011:

@Susan--Yes, it is so sad to see such changes in places we grew up having such fun. Thanks!

@BlissfulWriter--I'm glad you found the article useful. You don't have to be stuck in the city any longer, now. ;-)

BlissfulWriter on April 11, 2011:

This is great info. Because I've never camped before. I'm pretty much been stuck in the city all my life.

Susan Zutautas from Ontario, Canada on April 11, 2011:

So sorry to hear this about Yosemite. Sadly thing and places change so much..On a better note Congrats on your well deserved win for the Staff Pick, that is great!

Liz Elias (author) from Oakley, CA on April 11, 2011:

Well, hello Simone!

Thank you! I'm so glad you found the article worthwhile! As for winning, I am at once thrilled, humbled and honored! Thank you so very much! :-D

Simone Haruko Smith from San Francisco on April 11, 2011:

And congrats DzyMsLizzy! This Hub won the Staff Pick award for Day 10 of the So You Think You Can Write Online contest!

Simone Haruko Smith from San Francisco on April 11, 2011:

What a great guide to getting started! I love camping so much... anything that encourages people to give it a try is good in my book! Voted up!

Liz Elias (author) from Oakley, CA on April 11, 2011:

Hi, Susan!

Thanks for stopping by! Yosemite is, indeed, gorgeous. Sadly, however, it is also among the most popular of destinations, and serious restrictions have been placed on stay length and auto traffic (none allowed on valley floor these days--they have shuttles).

This influx of excess humanity has taken a toll in other ways, as well: it has become the "Los Angeles" (meaning densely populated, lest any "Los Angelinos" should take offense..) of campgrounds, thereby attracting also the...ummm...less desirable elements of society.

The last time I was there was back in 1987 with a geology class field trip. We were advised even then when leaving camp for the day, to pack up not only your food, but your sleeping bags and anything else of any value & take it with you in your car, or it might be gone when you returned--and I'm not talking about bears this time! :-(

Susan Zutautas from Ontario, Canada on April 11, 2011:

Really enjoyed your camping hub. The most beautiful place that I have ever camped would be Yosemite. That was quite a few years ago (even decades). I don't do much camping anymore and I agree with you about the RV.

Liz Elias (author) from Oakley, CA on April 10, 2011:

@Fossillady; Thanks! Hmm...about those bears...perhaps I should add a funny memory story on my blog and add a pointer link.....ah, memories! Thanks for stopping by--glad you found it useful. ;-)

@triciajean; Yes, I agree with your mom...especially when you can wash dishes outside and toss the water in the nearest bushes--no sink to scrub. ;-)

But not like I did it once as a kid: I tossed over my shoulder; aimed too high; water hit underside of canopy my dad had rigged over the table; came right back down on my head! That was a "missed video moment" for sure! LOL

Thanks for your comments! Glad you enjoyed.

Patricia Lapidus from Bantam, CT on April 10, 2011:

Ah, yes! Memories. I come from a camping and hiking family so I've experienced several of those beginner levels. My mother would agree with you about the RV. She always said that cooking is not work if you get to cook outdoors.

Kathi Mirto from Fennville on April 10, 2011:

Hi Lizzy, you have a thoroughly written and well assembled hub to prepare someone for their camping trip. Great for first timers; they could make a check list from this! I'm glad you warned them about where to story food, especially where bears may roam, yikes! Very useful!

Liz Elias (author) from Oakley, CA on April 10, 2011:

@LeisureLife: Thanks very much!

@Karanda: Thank you very much for the compliment!

And--oh--ooopss..DUH!! I did forget to mention the bug repellant, didn't I!?! Thanks for bringing that up!

@mtsi1098: Thanks you very much for stopping by and leaving a comment. I'm glad you liked the article.

@GusTheRedneck: Thanks, Gus. LOL--I bet you guys were in big trouble with your mother after that episode! My dad's tent that we had when I was a kid was a commercially-made canvas monstrosity that weighed too much for one person to lift and move once it was folded into a bundle. I like my modern nylon lightweight versions. ;-)

I'm glad you enjoyed the article.

Gustave Kilthau from USA on April 10, 2011:

DzyMsLizzy - Camping is really cool, just as you say. A friend and I used to camp out each weekend at a Boy Scout camp;ing grounds (Allen Reservation near Harrison, NY). Eventually I made a big tent of heavy canvas that held two of us plus our motor scooter - and the sewing of it ruined my mother's sewing machine, too. Thanks for a great article.

Gus :-)))

mtsi1098 on April 10, 2011:

camping is great...good work here...thanks

Karen Wilton from Australia on April 10, 2011:

Excellent Hub on camping. You have covered so much here, I'm sure this will be a great resource on the net for many years to come. Camping is not for me unless the weather is absolutely perfect. Those nights when you can sleep under the stars without worrying about the bugs are few and far between.

LeisureLife from USA on April 09, 2011:

Very informative hub! Thanks for writing this!

Liz Elias (author) from Oakley, CA on April 09, 2011:

Hi there, WillStarr!

Glad you enjoyed the hub; thanks for stopping by! ;-)

WillStarr from Phoenix, Arizona on April 09, 2011:

Fun Hub and brings back great memories!