Thoughts from a First-time Tent Camper – and Snapshots from our trip!

So, I did it.  After 10 years of my husband asking me to ‘pllleeeaaasse?’ go tent camping, we went.  Oh, yes, we went.

First and foremost, I must make a declaration.  I believe this to be self-evident – being a nature lover is not at all the same thing as being a camper.  

I know this to be evident because I myself am an extreme lover of nature.  I am a true, deep-down, genuine nature girl at heart and yet – camping?  Um… not quite so much.

Now, I will say with all sincerity – it is in no way my intention to discourage you from trying camping for the first time if you have never done so.  I actually encourage you to do it.  Try it once… and maybe twice.  I might try it twice.  Maybe. Probably not.

If you are already an absolute lover of tent camping – you are a stronger and better person that I am.  Enough said.

I suppose, as someone mentioned to me – living in the country and taking (almost) daily walks in the natural paradise down the lane kind of takes away from the ‘magic’ of camping in the woods.  We see a lot of woods.  We see a lot of beautiful water falls, streams, rocks, views, all things bright and beautiful – yes, we see it often and we are blessed.   I personally like seeing woods and lakes and streams and glory and then, at the end of day – seeing the inside of my house with running water, plush bedding, a stove, and my very own toilet.

I will say – we had fun, and wonderful memories were made with cherished friends and our children enjoyed themselves quite a bit on many levels.  However, I think my hubby and I are in agreement – we made a corporate decision…  the work/fun ratio was just not in balance for us.  There was SO MUCH WORK to be done compared to how much time we spent enjoying our children and actually ‘relaxing’ (what’s that?).

We would have definitely taken the exploring, hiking, caving, and canoeing minus the work of camping overnight.  Having said that, I’m glad for the time to remember how BLESSED we are to live in a house and how truly rich, rich, rich we really are.  I am also glad for the time to be reminded of truths like, “Do everything without complaining – do everything without arguing… so you may become blameless and pure children of God…”  (Phil. 2).  Can I just say, it is a lot easier to be that non-complaining Mama when things are going exactly my way?  But, when I’m all of a sudden out of my element and freezing cold and lacking sleep and trying to cook Vegan food over a camp fire – um… I need the grace of God to kick in high gear.

And of course, He was there.  He always is…

5 little tips from a first time (reluctant but trying so hard to have a good attitude) Camper Mom to another (reluctant but considering still going) Camper Mom:

  • Expect to do TONS of work.  See, I had this idyllic vision of lounging in a hammock in the mid-day sun while the children played happily by my side, food was easy and simple and good sleep was inevitable after all that glorious fresh air.  *HA*  I didn’t sit most the time – It was definitely more work to camp than to be at home.  Maybe I’m doing something wrong – but, wow – I was EXHAUSTED.
  • Make sure you have comfortable sleeping arrangements.  One of our biggest pit-falls was not properly preparing for sleep time.  We just shrugged and figured, “Meh, it’s 3 days, we’ll cope.”  NO!  Don’t do this.  Please, don’t do this.  Make sure you have comfortable, warm, do-able sleeping set-ups.  I strongly suggest mats on the ground and enough inflatable, good quality air mattresses for everyone.  Lots of sheets, blankets, pillows, more than you think you’ll ever need.  My husband and I both stayed awake the entire first night from discomfort and cold. 
  • Bring LOTS of warm clothes.  Lots and lots and lots.  Even if it is the hottest part of summer.  We had to go home the second day because we didn’t bring enough warm clothing or blankets.  Socks and runners is also a must.
  • Keep the food as simple as possible.  See, we’re Vegan.  Most people just BBQ everything and eat loads of burgers, hot dogs, and grilled chicken while camping.  Food was a bit more challenging for us.  I tried to make tons of fresh veggies and warm entire meals on a tiny Coleman stove – it was hard and very frustrating.  In the future – I would (if I ever camp again) do mostly cold foods.  Salads, sandwiches, wraps, etc.
  • Bring good COFFEE.  I am being honest… if you are a coffee lover, make sure you have a proper way to make a big steaming cup of good coffee.  It will cure all after a rough night of sleep… we didn’t do this and I honestly think it made my mood 3 times worse… ha!
Most of all, rely on God’s grace and a good sense of humor and enjoy the moments with your children – these are memories made mostly for their sake…  so that’s what kept me laughing and (mostly) smiling.  

Also – look around and breathe deep.  The Lord’s glory is painted everywhere in nature and this is what kept me at peace and truly enjoying our special times in His wonderful, breath-taking world.

Some snap-shots from our trip. We were camping in Southern Ontario, near the Grand River (for those who are interested in where we were!).

Around the Camp-site…

Hiking and Caving!

Family Canoe Trip-

Hooray for memories!

Thanks for sharing our adventure with us…  lots of love.


  • Alison

    Thanks for sharing. Next time you go, I want to tag along ๐Ÿ™‚

    What a wonderful experience and I know there will be a lot of "remember when…" stories shared as the kids get older.

  • Erin

    I hear you–it's so much work as parents to go camping, and you never get enough sleep! But it's worth it. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Also, we are coffee "snobs", and love to make Americanos with the Aeropress (a $30 single-serving French press). We take that camping, plus a manual burr grinder like this (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00U7WRUNQ/ref=s9_hps_bw_g79_i1) that fits inside the Aeropress for compact travel. Boil water, add fresh beans from Peet's, and we are in coffee heaven no matter how far from civilization!

    • Cassandra

      Haha… yes! Thank you for this suggestion. Before going, I looked at little coffee presses and scoffed that the cost of them… then… you're in the middle of the woods on 2 hours sleep, freezing cold… and $30 for a little thingy that can make Mama a good coffee sounds totally reasonable… LOL.

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