Well I have a few friends who love camping, they eat baked beans out of the tin most of the time to save on washing and literally sleep under their cars or in the back canopy area. They braai on bricks with a grid and generally live like wild men from the outback. The only thing that disturbs the bliss is that fact that their wives and kids do not want to go with them.
So over dinner we discussed the bare essentials that would change this and make camping a family affair – and strangely they all centre on a degree of comfort. So without turning this into a trek of note what would a minimal approach be that could ensure that all have a good time and want to repeat the experience?
Firstly hot water is essential, hygiene needs to be maintained so check out reviews in outdoor magazines to ensure that you choose a campsite with good ablutions and possibly a kitchen area for food preparation – you have to bear in mind that one could be rained in for a few days so this is important.
Then ensure that you have adequate tables and chairs, tables are important as one could be taken up for a meal whilst the kids use the other one for games and suchlike.Also check if the campsite provides wood and basic essentials.
So now we look at the requirements to ensure a fun experience!
Firstly the tent, forget about sleeping under the stars, the romance soon wanes when you have three days of solid rain, visit a local outdoor chain and get something that suits your budget and is durable, if you have an existing tent lay it out and check that it’s all there including all guy ropes and stays, as well as the awning and pegs.
If buying new make sure that you have space for at least two beds and your bags, more if you have small kiddies and see that you can stand, there is nothing worse than trying to dress in a cramped space.
Then there is the bedding; you can opt for a mat, air mattress or stretcher with a mattress, as you get older the stretcher and mattress becomes the obvious one. Add to this a sleeping bag and do not forget a pillow otherwise you will find sleeping somewhat difficult. Children also like pillows to use on the trip whilst travelling to the campsite. Lighting is the next one; I always suggest a variety of lights, Gas for the external areas, battery lanterns for inside the tens and torches for general use – check that the campsite has electricity if using the rechargeable type and ensure that you have enough gas and batteries. Some lights like the Maglite have a useful adaptor that turn them into standing lanterns as well= great for showers that are not well lit.
Then don’t forget the mozzie repellent as the pesky little creatures can spoil a trip especially if camping near a river or dam, on that note add in citronella candles as they keep flies away when eating and use citronella soap and shampoo as well. Never use anything with a naked flame in a tent!
Then take a few fire lighting sources, matches, lighters and fire strikers – you will be the hero when your neighbours need help.
You can also make your own firelighters by putting used, dried tea bags into a jam jar with some meths, light these under your wood or charcoal, they are as effective as the commercial variety with less odour.
Then make sure that you have a fully functional kitchen trommel with adequate plates and bowls for eating as well asplatters for serving. General cutlery for eating as well as cooking equipment such as a spatula, tongs and spoons. Add to that a can opener a small basin, washing up liquid and a sponge and you are almost there. Gloves or mitts are essential when cooking over a fire and never forget the humble can opener.
Whilst one tends to braai and often cook for two meals you should also take some canned food for those quick meals when the little ones get hungry (baked beans on toast) as well as soups and a variety of tinned beans for salads. These are also essential if you get rained in and need to prepare warm nutritious meals without getting wet.
Then if you are not sure of the water supply take adequate bottled water for drinking, one now gets the large ten litre bottles which can be decanted into a 20L water container.
Lastly pack your toiletries and first aid kit along with a box containing roller towel and toilet paper (campsites often omit this). With regards first aid checks that chronic meds are packed if anyone uses them as they will not be readily available over the counter.
We have an ideal climate for camping but pack clothing as if something could go wrong – rain jackets and warm items are essential as are items that dry easily. Take extra towels, as they do not dry easily if it’s raining- use our downloadable checklist as a guide it is a bit more comprehensive than an article and do not forget to enjoy yourselves and share your experiences with us on www.allterrain.co.za . And always have a fire extinguisher in the car and around the camp.