Virgin Camper

August 5, 2011

Our guest blogger Tori packed up her hubby and went camping in the great outdoors for her very first time. Here she shares her tips, even if you want to do a test run in your backyard…happy trails!

I wonder if you ever hit a point in your life where you run out of “firsts.” I mean, obviously, you could be 80 and decide to go sky diving, for example. First time for everything, I suppose. But I wonder if, by the time I reach that ripe old age, firsts will have lost their luster. I wonder if I just won’t bother, and instead, contently sit at home for the 40,000th time, watching “Law and Order: Mars” reruns. Honestly, I might be halfway there already. But not entirely! Because last weekend, I went camping for the first time.

When I tell people that I never camped before, they don’t believe me, since I grew up in a very rural area. But here’s the thing: Because I grew up where I did, camping was kind of pointless. We already lived in the woods! I mean, sure, I “camped” in fields with friends when I was in high school and college. Who needs a sleeping bag when you’ve downed 2 bottles of Boone’s Farm Strawberry Hill? Not me! Those were classy times.

But I digress. Flash forward to present day. My husband and I decided (well, I decided and he begrudgingly agreed) that we wanted to go to the Newport Folk Festival this year. It promised a great line up and a great location on the water in Newport’s beautiful Fort Adams State Park. I lured my husband in with promises of a relaxing weekend in a lovely town. “Sure,” I said. “We’ll stay in a hotel! This won’t be like a normal music festival experience! You’ll see!”

Except…turns out that Newport and the surrounding area hotels jack up their prices to a million dollars a night during the festival. So when we found out that some friends of ours were also attending and camping in a nearby state park, we decided to take a gamble and take a snooze in the great outdoors.

It was kind of great! We stayed at a campground that had bathrooms and a camp store and security, so we were hardly roughing it. But it was real camping – we stayed in a tent, built a fire and ate some kind of beef and vegetables cooked in tin foil packets (it was good!). And we survived!

So now that I am a successful outdoorswoman – I am still hoping for that merit badge – here are my tips for first time campers:

  • Go with someone who knows what they’re doing. Thank god for our friend Chuck. Without him, we would’ve slept in the car and eaten Goldfish crackers for dinner. He helped us put up our tent and made the aforementioned campfire vittles. Applause!
  • Bug spray. It’s your friend.
  • Bring a flashlight. Looking for the bathroom in the pitch black is the worst.
  • Don’t buy what you can borrow – a friend lent us her tent, sleeping bags and air mattresses, saving me from spending money on stuff I might not ever use again.
  • Don’t forget your pillow. Rolled up towels and jeans just ain’t the same.
  • If your husband is afraid of bugs, don’t point out the wasp digging a hole in the dirt under his chair. He will be very alarmed by insects that are strong enough to move earth.
  • If you’re a city dweller, look up at the stars. Remember stars? Holy crap. They are amazing.
  • Just go with it. One morning at the campsite, a little boy rode by on his bike, yelling at his parents, “I’m never coming back, so you better say bye!” There, underneath the trees and sunshine, I realized that I was surrounded by quiet calm, and even though my back was a little sore from sleeping on the ground, I thought that just maybe that little guy had the right idea.

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