First Time Tent Camping

Recently we took our first tent camping trip as a family. We had stayed at my cousin’s campsite a few years ago, in a tent. However, we were able to go into her camper, if we needed something or just wanted to have a break from nature.

We’re not a roughing it kind of family…

We are unapologetically, not the type of people who need to connect with the wilderness. We live in the suburbs, and we enjoy rural or city life. However, we are not the family that craves being one with nature. In fact, my children will scream at the sight of a fly, but we decided that this would be a great adventure.

Here is what we learned:
  1. If you don’t know if your family will enjoy camping, borrow as much gear as possible instead of buying it. It just doesn’t make sense to spend tons of money on new gear that you may not even want once your adventure is over.
  2. Remember that there are critters that would love some of your food. Keep your food in sealed containers. We had visitors of the bandit kind. Our campground was known for lots of raccoons, and they are smart.
  3. Staying close to the campground bath house is best if you need to run to the bathroom often (including potty training). We were in the middle of potty training, so having a potty close by was important. We brought our daughter’s training potty along for the trip. Having a bath house close by meant that we were not carrying a successful potty time too far.
  4. To keep your cooking supplies organized while tent camping, I recommend using a cheap, small plastic set of drawers or boxes with lids. Keeping this in the back of your vehicle will help you stay organized better than digging through bags. (I will not dig through bags again.)
  5. Don’t worry. Take the pressure off. Most people at the campgrounds are nice and will help if you don’t know how to handle something.
  6. Animals look gigantic while casting a shadow on your tent. They are not that big!
  7. When trying this adventure out for size, take a short trip, fairly close to home. This will give you a little security that you can get back home quickly if things are not going well.
  8. Remember the bug spray and mosquito repellant. Even if they don’t usually bother you, bring extra.
  9. Take photos of your campsite. You will want to remember how you set it up so that you can adjust things for your next trip.
  10. Cooking while camping is cool, but it is a ton of work. At least for us, it was more work than we would like to do on a vacation. Take cereal or bars for breakfast, and make sandwiches for another meal. Cooking more than once will keep you working as if you were at home (maybe more).

    Cooking at the campsite
    Cooking at the campsite
We were asked by many of our friends, “would you go again?”

We will go camping again. I don’t think it will be something that we’ll do for a majority of our vacations, but it will get us out-of-town more often because the cost of staying at a campground is so much less than a hotel.

We did agree that we would like a small camper in the future. We just feel like the walls of a camper will give more of a feeling of security while we are trying to sleep. Plus, unlike a tent, it is not on the ground. This is important, if it rains “cat and dogs.”

For vacations on a tight budget, tent camping is a good way to bond as a family and spend time together. It’s best when everyone can pitch in and help, and slowing down to talk by the fire is definitely something I recommend.

About The Author


I became a first-time mommy at 37. The timing for starting our family landed us in the middle of becoming a co-caregiver for my mom and at a high point in my career. Our adventure continues as we navigate through this amazing and crazy journey we call life.

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