I will learn to like camping if it kills me.

Since Tyler joined the cub scouts, I have camped more than I ever wanted to have before. While I am far more tolerant of camping than I used to be, I’m still not firmly in the pro-camping….er….camp. I don’t consider myself to be high-maintenance, but I have become accustomed to hot running water. Also, we usually camp within the state of Florida, which means there is a non-zero chance of ROACHES AS BIG AS YOUR EYEBALLS OMG.

Ahem. Sorry about that.

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Because I am a silver linings kind of girl, I will share some tips and tricks I have learned that make camping much more bearable.

1. Camp with a group, but not a huge one.

This weekend, we camped with Tyler’s den (7 families) instead of the whole pack (usually 40 families). Less noise! Fewer poor parenting decisions! Better access to bathroom facilities! A small group also acts as insurance. If you forgot something important, like bug spray or a broom, it’s likely you can borrow. Bonus points if your group includes experienced campers.

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2. Start small.

All our previous camping trips have been over two nights. This was just one night. A REVELATION. I do not sleep well while camping, and on previous trips I’ve spent most of the second day cranky and dreading the second night. We arrived at the campsite early Saturday afternoon, had the pack’s Blue & Gold rank advancement ceremony and dinner, and relaxed in the evening with s’mores around the campfire. Sunday morning, the boys participated in a service project, and we were out of there by about 11:00.

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3. Stay dry, stay warm.

Put a waterproof tarp under your tent. Put your sleeping bag on a pad, or a cot. Pack everything in waterproof containers and Ziploc bags. Bring layers of clothing – 65 degrees feels a lot different outside at night than it does in your home.

4. Get to know your equipment – BEFORE you need it.

When we bought our tent, we practiced setting it up in the back yard. Now Jason, Tyler and I can set the tent up in about 10 minutes, and I actually packed it up by myself on Sunday. If you have a camp stove, practice using it in your driveway.

5. Identify and address your weaknesses.

Ask yourself, Why don’t I like camping? For me, I don’t like feeling dirty, I don’t sleep well on the ground, and I don’t like being cold. So I pack baby wipes, Advil PM, and a hat/gloves/wool socks every time we go. It doesn’t make it AWESOME, but it definitely helps.

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6. Take a page from the Boy Scouts.

That means, “Be Prepared.” The internet is filled with lists of things to pack on camping trips. Make a list. Check it twice. Bring extra batteries. It’s better to overpack, at least on your first trip.

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7. If all else fails, make s’mores.

They really do make everything better.

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