Camping For Beginners: 18 Basic Steps For Your First Outdoor Adventure

If you go back far enough in history you’ll find that every human on the planet used to be some form of camper in one way or another. Prehistoric “cavemen” made their beds out of sticks, stems, leaves, and other plant materials for a comfy night’s sleep. Talk about roughing it!

Since then, camping now is kind of looked at as a luxury. Unless you’re homeless, sleeping out under the stars with a camp stove, tent, and sleeping bag is a form of entertainment. We do it with friends and family, for days or weeks at a time, in some of the most beautiful landscapes in the world. How far we’ve come.

Camping for beginners

If you’ve never done it before, the idea of packing everything into a car or backpack and living out of it for a weekend getaway can seem overwhelming. You might ask yourself, “Where do I start?”, or “What do I need?” and many other questions that’ll come up.

I say, don’t let those worrisome thoughts get to you. Instead, think about the many benefits of ditching city life for a while and what you can gain by exploring this big beautiful world we all share!

One, camping is a fantastic way to reconnect with nature. Sometimes we lose focus of how majestic our world truly is. Secondly, it’s an ideal way to unwind from the hustle and bustle of daily life. It’s like hitting the reset button if you will. Lastly, you’ll form unforgettable memories that’ll stay with you for the rest of your life. There are many more reasons, but I think these are enough to get started!

So, if you have the urge to escape your day-to-day for a fun and safe adventure into the woods, you’ve found a great resource! In this camping for beginners article, I’ll go over how to plan, what to bring along with you, and things to keep in mind when going for your first “campout”. I’m happy to say, I’m here for ya!


Planning

Before setting out, you’ll need to do a few things first. Half of the battle to a successful camping trip is preparation. Forgetting to do or bring something halfway down the road can nag at you, so much so that it might distract you from the fun all weekend. It kind of defeats the point of getting away in the first place right?

When I first started out, I skipped a bunch of essentials and barely made it through my first night, so believe me when I say, that organization is everything!

1. Types Of Camping

The first question you should be asking yourself is, “How do you want to go about sleeping outdoors for the first time?”. Since there are many camping options to choose from, take a second and think about it. It might save you some valuable time or money later down the road. Let’s go over the different choices.

Tent Camping

Probably the most popular type of camping, or the first image that pops into your head when you think about it, is setting up and sleeping in a tent. You can pretty much do this anywhere. National or State parks, campgrounds, private campsites, your backyard, a dirt field in the middle of nowhere, it doesn’t matter.

Some even pack up their tents on bicycles, motorcycles, canoes or kayaks, and travel for weeks or months on end, setting up their tent in a new spot every night. Others visit trusty campsites they’ve been going to for years and never stray. Just know it’s a loose term that can be applied to basically any situation.

Car Camping

This can also mean a few different things. The acceptable or more commonly used definition of car camping, amongst campers, is anytime or anywhere you use a vehicle to get to a campsite. While other more literal folk believe, or justify, actually sleeping in your car as car camping. Either way, some version of mechanical transportation is involved.

The more cautious might prefer to lay down a seat, pull up a blanket, and spend their nights in the safety of their vehicle, while others buy tents specially formed for the bed of their truck or the roof of their car. Experienced families will bring everything possible and set up a tiny village. It’s a broad term but if you’re brand, brand new and safety is a concern of yours, go with a version of this first time out.

RV Camping

If you have some money, need a lot of room for your family, or like a few of the “extras” that only a mobile home provides like a fully stocked kitchen, then look into RV camping as your initial foray into the camping world. The benefits are pretty awesome, but so are the costs and the amount of work that goes into it. Still though, it’s a good time!

Glamping

For the ultra-chic, there’s the luxurious option of glamping. I barely count this as camping, but to each their own. This is like taking a resort and plopping it down in the middle of a forest. It’s all about the accommodations like wi-fi, television, hot tubs, full beds, and elaborate dwellings with this one. If you have the cash and love to take baby steps, this might be for you.

Dispersed Camping

This is for all the rebels in the world or for those who need to get off the grid. Going “dispersed”, also known as “primitive”, means camping with no amenities whatsoever. No public restrooms, trash cans, tables, fire pits, or services of any kind. I don’t recommend this to anyone venturing out for the first time unless you’re running from the law!

2. Choosing Your Destination

OK, you’ve decided what you want to do, now you need to pick where to go. A lot of this is based on the available time you have. If you only have 1 or 2 nights, stay close. I’m sure you can find a campground or site within a short distance. Even NYC, one of the biggest metropolises in the world, has a campsite within an hour of Times Square.

If you have all the free time you can handle, consider visiting a famous touristy hot spot like Glacier National Park or the Great Smokey Mountains. Even for first-timers, these are excellent choices.

Next, which type of environment suits you? A lush forest, a beautiful beach, a mountain with a view, etc. Think about what gets your blood pumping and go from there. Personally, I pick spots with little to no light pollution. If I can see the stars, I’m happy!

Finally, which amenities do you need or want available to you? Many campgrounds come with the essentials, such as toilets, water sources, and fire pits, but they aren’t guaranteed. National and state parks are known for offering excellent camping facilities, so if you’re a beginner, and don’t want to worry about too much, stay at one of these first time out.

3. Make Reservations (if necessary)

Once you’ve decided on your destination you’ll need to check if reservations are required for camping there. Many popular campgrounds, like Yosemite, fill up way in advance and are nearly impossible to get into at the last minute, especially during peak seasons, so do your due diligence. National park reservations can be made at recreation.gov.

Even if you think it’s unlikely, take a minute and look into it. Leave no box unchecked!

4. Check the Weather

This can make or break your first time out so definitely look up the expected conditions for your plan. There’s nothing worse than setting up your gear in the middle of a downpour, or an unexpected windy day, especially if you’ve never done it before. Ask yourself some simple questions before heading out –

  • Is the chance of rain, sleet, or snow likely?
  • What are the average day and nighttime temperatures?
  • Is it going to be humid or muggy out?
  • What’s the elevation of the campground?
  • Is wind going to be a factor?

Since harsher climates require more experience and more gear, I wouldn’t recommend camping in a locale that’s known for extremes. If it’s going to be colder than 50° F (4.5° C) at night skip it. Wait for good conditions, it’ll be worth it.

If you can’t wait for a nice climate, or your options are limited, some grounds like KOA have camping cabins that might suit your needs. Big families, special events, and overly cautious groups who aren’t ready to take the plunge into tenting it might want to go down this route.

5. Gather Your Gear

Now comes the fun part, buying a bunch of stuff! It might seem daunting but there’s nothing to it really. As long as you know which type of camping you’re set on, you know what you’ll need. For instance, if you want to car camp, no need for a tent. If you choose glamping, no need for a lot of things!

Still though, for most of you who want to do the “traditional” style of camping, you’ll need a few of the staples. Below is a basic checklist of essentials –

  • Tent (with stakes and guidelines)
  • Sleeping bag
  • Sleeping pad
  • Camp Kitchen
    • Camping stove or portable grill
    • Cooking utensils and supplies (pots, pans, plates, utensils, etc.)
    • Cleanup
  • Flashlights or headlamps with extra batteries
  • First aid kit
  • Insect repellent and sunscreen
  • Firewood (if permitted) or a portable campfire pit
  • Entertainment

Pro TipTo keep your initial investment on the lower side, or if you’re unsure of your camping future, consider renting as much of your equipment as possible for your first time out. Not only does it keep the costs down, it also allows you to test out different types and styles of gear!

a. Tent

There are many factors when choosing the right tent for your camping needs. The first is the number of people sleeping in it, second is the weather, third is future use, and last is of course the cost.

Occupancy

I highly suggest erroring on the larger side with this one. If there are 2 of you, get a 3 or 4-person tent. A family of 4? Look for a good 6-person option. Trust me, it quickly gets crowded inside.

Weather

Tents come in multiple weather-rating varieties. 1, 2, 3, 3/4, and 4 seasons (There’s a 5, but that’s for crazy people climbing Mt. Everest). 1 and 2-season tents are glorified insect nets so don’t pay too much attention to them, but it’s good to know they exist. Here’s a breakdown –

  • 1 season – Designed for warm and tropical weather. Minimal protection from the elements
  • 2 seasons – OK for light showers and low winds, but zero protection from the cold
  • 3 seasons – Mid-range protection. Best used for Summer, the end of Spring, or the beginning of Fall
  • 3/4 seasons – Sturdier and cozier. Great for all all occasions except heavy snow and frigid temps
  • 4 seasons – Strong and robust. Meant for high elevations and harsh conditions

If you’re going anytime in the summer and the weather is going to be pretty good, a 3 season tent should do the trick!

Future use

If you feel this is the tip of the iceberg of your camping skills, think about what the future holds. Do other styles of camping interest you like backpacking or heavy winter? If so, try and find a tent that checks all the boxes or is adaptable for different situations.

Cost

This is completely up to you since tents range from the super cheap to the overly expensive with everything in between. If you’re on the fence between a couple, check out the reviews to make a better informed decision.

My Pick – 2-3 people – Coleman Skydome 4

3-4 people – Coleman Skydome 6

b. Sleeping Bag

Just like tents, they come in a wide array of features and costs. Most likely you’re not going to be camping in any of the extremes, but you should know the differences in styles and uses.

Temperature
  • Summer/low-elevation sleeping bags : 32°F and above (0°C and above)
  • 3-season sleeping bags : 20 to 32°F (- 6.6° to 0°)
  • Cold-weather/winter sleeping bags : 20°F and below (- 6.6° and below)
Style
  • Rectangular – Provides the most room for 1. Can open it up and use as a blanket
  • Semi-rectangular – Smaller and lighter. Still provides space but more compact
  • Mummy – Snug and extremely warm. Best for the coldest of climates
  • Double – Room for 2! Great if you can’t sleep on your own or have small children.
Camping for beginners

A regular summer rectangular sleeping bag is going to be the best choice since you can actually move around in it and it’s the closest to sleeping in a bed feeling you’ll get.

My PickKelty Catena 30

c. Sleeping Pad

I don’t want this article to wander into the technical waters, but you should know that sleeping pads are measured by their “R-value”, a fancy metric that reflects their heat retentiveness. The higher the R-value, the more the pad will keep the cold ground from chilling you down as you sleep. Most summer night stays will be fine in the 2-3 R-value range.

There are also 3 main types to choose from, each with their pros and cons –

  • Air pad – Comfortable and lightweight but expensive and prone to damage
  • Self-inflating – Strong and better insulation but heavier and not as compact
  • Closed-cell – Cheap and durable, but provide the least amount of comfort

I highly recommend going with a self-inflating sleeping pad for your first purchase. They come in a wide range of thicknesses and R values, are incredibly comfortable, and just like a great pair of shoes, will last you a long time as long as you treat it right!

My Pick – Single Person – Coleman Peak1 Sleeping pad

Double Occupancy – Sea-to-Summit Comfort Plus

d. Camp Kitchen

Next on the list is packing your camping food and supplies. How are you going to prepare your meals out in the middle of nowhere? Many first-timers will bring ready-to-eat foods like veggies and hummus, sandwiches, or tuna salad for the bulk of their food but that quickly gets old.

Let’s go one layer deeper, shall we?

Cooking Options
Portable Stove

The most popular option, and my personal recommendation, is bringing along a two-burner stove. They’re easy to use, not too far off from using the normal kitchen version, and pretty versatile.

My PickColeman Classic

Pro TipPick up a Coleman griddle accessory for more cooking options!

Camp Grill

If you’re looking to cook your meats or veggies BBQ grill style, think about picking up the backyard’s baby brother, a camping grill. These are usually gas-powered, easy to clean, and flame-adjustable.

My PickSPRK Camp Grill

Single Burner

This is another common cooking accessory you’ll see out in the woods, particularly with those who are going solo, minimalists, or backpackers. If money or space isn’t a problem, I’d avoid these at first, but they come in handy for future trips. Also makes a great gift!

My PickMSR Pocket Rocket 2

Supplies
Pots and Pans and Lids

Regular kitchen items work fine as long as they fit, but don’t bring too many. One of each should be enough unless you are bringing along extra cooking stoves or if you have a large group. If you think this will be the first of many outdoor stays, you can invest in a fancy camp cooking set, but it’s unnecessary at this stage.

Cutlery, Plates, Utensils

Same here. Bring what you know you’re going to use. Tongs for a grill, a spatula for a griddle, or a wooden spoon for your pot, etc.

If you have them, pack items that are reusable or unbreakable like plastic plates, bowls, and cups, metal forks/knives/spoons, etc. You can also go the paper/disposable route to save on cost, but you might get some dirty looks from other campers (They tend to be more environmentally friendly).

Additional items
  • Napkins
  • Mugs
  • Pot Holders
  • Cutting knife
  • Cutting board
  • Water bottles
  • 2 Large plastic storage bins – 1 for dry food and the other for cooking supplies
Coolers

There’s nothing like a cold refreshment after a long day of hiking, or swimming in a lake, so bring a few coolers, loaded with ice packs, for your food and drinks. Soft-sided coolers are ok for a few days, but any longer and you’ll need a hard-sided, durable cooler like a Coleman 316. Take at least 2, 1 for your food, and the other for your drinks.

Pro Tip – Freeze as many of your foods as possible the night before you leave. You can use them as acting ice blocks throughout the day to keep the rest of your food cold as they thaw.

Clean Up

Now unless you want to pack up all of your dirty dishes after your trip, which I discourage, you’ll need to wash everything after you’ve finished eating. Also, depending on where you’ll be, nasty food smells will attract the local wildlife while you’re sleeping! Not a fun surprise to wake up to in the middle of the night.

Camp sink

Don’t forget to bring a couple of large containers like plastic bins or buckets to use as mobile sinks to make your life easier. One for the soapy water, and the other for rinsing.

You can even use a plastic storage bin as a makeshift sink, as long as it’s deep enough. If you think you’ll be back camping sometime soon, look into picking up actual camping sinks. They’re collapsable and come in fun colors!

Additional items

To aid your cleanup efforts, pick up a bottle of biodegradable soap, a sponge or brush, and a few dish towels. Here are some more items to think of –

  • Paper towels
  • Aluminum foil
  • Trash bags
  • Sanitary wipes

That should do it. For those who like to be prepared for anything, here’s a full camp kitchen checklist. Go wild!

e. Flashlights or Headlamps

Besides the moon, it gets pretty dark at night around an average campsite. Typically flashlights or headlamps are the preferred method of choice for experienced campers to get around in the dark.

You’ll see old-school campers with handheld flashlights, and you may be tempted to rely on your mobile phone’s light, but these options get old, fast. To me, hands-free is the way to go and worth the cost. I say invest in a proper headlamp. You’ll thank yourself.

My PickPetzl Aria 2 – Petzl makes great products and the Aria 2 is quality, especially for the price.

Camping for beginners - headlamp

f. First Aid Kit

Cuts, scraps, and sprains happen all the time in the backcountry. It’s best to have a few helpful items to fend off infections, relieve insect bites, treat blisters, or relieve small aches and pains. Some campers assemble their own, but if you’d rather order something, take a look around at some of the available kits online.

My PickHART-Outdoor Day Hike First Aid Kit – Has all the basics for minor irritations and wounds. The bare minimum you should have with you.

g. Insect Repellant and Sunscreen

If you’re like my dad, mosquitos love to feast on your tasty skin. Flys will make meal time a pain in the butt and ticks seem to find their ways into hidden spots under your clothes. All of which kill the mood. Think about bringing at least 1 type to fend off those pesky little buggers.

My PickBen’s Adventure Formula – Provides 12 hours of relief from the most stubborn of insects.

Spending all day outdoors will give you a lovely sunburn if you’re not ready for it. Even if the weather is cloudy or overcast, those ultraviolet rays will sneak through and toast you up! Pack a bottle of your favorite sunscreen so you don’t return home looking like tanning bed disaster!

h. Firewood or Portable Fire Pit

This is going to be campground-specific, but if you’ve checked for fire pits ahead of time or the site allows you to bring your own, and you want to tell campfire stories around a blazing inferno, there are a couple of things to keep in mind.

First off check local fire regulations. If you’re good to go, choose locally sourced firewood over imported stuff. Sometimes wood from outside the immediate area will contain some nasty bugs that wreak havoc on the local plant life.

As far as portable fire pits, I say leave that for next time. Unless it’s an absolute must, it’s just an added cost and more work to do. But if you need to have one, make sure it’s rated for camping, made of quality materials, and collapsable.

My PickWaaliji Portable Fire Pit – This thing is big enough to create an impressive fire, lightweight and portable, and great for roasting marshmallows!

Pro Tip – Pick up a freestanding campfire grill grate like the VEVOR swivel campfire grill if you want a flavorful fire-roasted feast!

6. Meal Planning

Before you go, plan out each of your major meals at home. This will save you a bunch of time and work when you’re out in nature. It’ll also help you stick to a budget and make the actual cooking part a breeze! Another good idea is to look up local restaurants in case you need a quick getaway or would like to stop before/after your stay.

Types of meals

If you don’t have experience cooking in the wild, stick to simple and easy meals. Ones with few ingredients or you’ve made before. A great resource for camping meal ideas is Pinterest It doesn’t matter if you are a vegan, going keto, or a professional chef, if you’re looking for it, Pinterest will have it! Here are some ideas to get you started –

  • Cheeseburgers
  • Hot dogs
  • S’mores
  • Grilled meats/veggies
  • Sandwiches
  • Chili
  • Rice and beans
  • Shish Kabobs
  • Eggs
  • Pancakes
  • Soups

Try and prep anything you can before getting to your campground. Say for Shish Kabobs, cut, skewer, and season the meat and veggies in your kitchen, then bag them up so they’re ready to go.

My favorite way to eat under the stars is ready-to-eat freeze-dried meals. They’re super easy, delicious, and fast. All you need is a device to boil water, like a Fire-Maple, and you’re good to go. Pour in the hot water, mix it around for a bit, and bam, instant chicken Alfredo! The downside to them is they can run a little on the expensive side, so it might not be for everybody.

Pantry Staples

You’ll also want to spice up your life with some delicious herbs and spices. Don’t forget to bring a few of your favorite seasoning blends, condiments, cooking oils, or sauces that can add some much-needed flavor.

Drinks and Snacks

Even though they’re heavy and take up some space, I can’t emphasize the importance of bringing a variety of drinks enough. Expect your water consumption to be higher than normal, so sipping on a soda, bottled tea, or juice goes a long way in balancing it all out. Stay away from boxed drinks in the cooler though, since they’ll get water-logged and fall apart.

If you need your cup of joe in the morning, grab a travel coffee press, filters, pre-ground beans, and a water heater like the previously mentioned Fire-Maple. No need to skip your morning fix!

If you’re like me and love to unwind after a busy day, pack a few beers in the cooler somewhere. I swear, 1 beer will feel like 3, especially in higher elevations. A great way to cap off the night!

And of course, there are the fun treats to hold you over between meals. Make sure they’re non-perishable and travel well like jerky, trail mix, dried fruits, and granola. A few others –

  • Cookies
  • Popcorn
  • Cheese and crackers
  • Peanut butter and jelly
  • Hummus
  • Goldfish
  • Cereal
  • Candies and chocolates

Pro Tip – Even if the campsite or campground you’re going to has available water, it’s a good idea to have at least 5 gallons of fresh water with you at all times! Bring a water jug for safety!

7. What to Wear

Your wardrobe will be heavily influenced by where you’re going and when. As you can imagine, climate will dictate this more than ever, but it’s always nice to bring more than you feel you’ll need, especially at night or if the weather turns unexpectedly.

A good rule of thumb is to avoid heavy cotton, bulky thick clothing, and denim. These tend to soak up the moisture in the air, leaving you cold and miserable. Opt for durable and light layers, that are water-resistant and easily changeable. I prefer polyester or nylon blends that are rated as moisture-wicking and/or quick-drying.

Planned activities will also influence your attire, so think of all the possible nearby entertainments you’re most likely to do, like hiking or swimming, and pack accordingly. Here’s a basic list you can build off of –

If you’ll be going during colder months, you’ll need extras like a scarf or ear muffs, but I’ll leave those tidbits up to you.

8. Pack Smart

When it comes to packing your gear and supplies, organization is key. Knowing where everything is helps a ton when the sun goes down or when you’re ready to ska-doodle.

If you can, pack most of your gear, supplies, and food into clear storage bins. You can label them if you’d like, but since they’re see-through, that might be unnecessary. Separate the items by category, with food and utensils in one, and tents, sleeping bags/pads, and flashlights in another.

Food containers are a great idea for that added step of security/safety. Keep those bugs, critters, and other types of wildlife away!

In the end, try and pack as light as you can and bring only what you need. I know I’ve listed a bunch of stuff, but you can pick and choose the important items and avoid overloading with too many things.

Extras

Toiletries

Camping trips tend to last only a few days so you won’t need to bring much, but I’ll provide a list just in case. You know what you need –

  • Toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Deodorant
  • Soap
  • Shampoo or dry shampoo
  • Shower shoes
  • Baby wipes
  • Toilet paper
  • Towels
  • Medications
  • Hairbrush or comb
  • Baby powder
  • Contacts and solution or glasses
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Moisturizer
  • Face wipes with makeup remover
  • Feminine products
  • Ziplock bags to dispose of used wipes, toilet paper, etc.
Furniture or Decorations

If you want to add some finishing touches to your camping experience, consider bringing some comfy camping furniture like chairs or hammocks. They aren’t necessary, but if there’s nowhere to take a load off, these will be worth their weight in gold after a few hours of arriving.

If need be, or otherwise unavailable, foldable tables might be required. Always check with the campsite ahead of time to see which amenities are provided and which you’ll need to accommodate yourself. Some more “extras” to think about –

These small additions can add some much-desired comfort and style to your overall experience!

Setting Up Camp

Whew, that was a lot of preparation. Now comes the fun part. Setting up! Once you get to where you’re going, there are a few tips and tricks you should know that most amateur campers are unaware of.

9. Arrive early

I highly suggest getting to your campsite as early as possible for a few reasons.

  1. Best choice for available spots.
  2. Gives you plenty of time to get settled
  3. Allows for cooking in the light, which believe me, you’ll want to do on your first day.

Unless you absolutely have to, get to your campsite with at least some sun left in the sky. There’s nothing more frustrating than setting up in the dark!

10. Pitching your tent

After unloading, the first thing you should do is set up your tent. It’ll probably be the most labor-intensive part of the entire process, so getting it out of the way is paramount.

Choose a flat and level spot

Find a place that looks like it’s been used before to set up. There’s a reason they’re ideal. If there’s no obvious place, choose an area that has shade, is a good distance away from the fire pits or cooking areas, is free of debris like rocks or tree roots, and is slightly elevated. If it rains, you don’t want a surprise river flowing through your tent in the middle of the night!

Secure it

Make sure to secure your tent properly with the provided stakes and guidelines. Stick them as deep as possible to prevent your tent from blowing away in the wind. Also, take a mental note of where your stakes and lines are since they are notorious tripping hazards.

After it’s good to go, place your sleeping bags, sleeping pads, and other gear inside the tent, and arrange it all in an organized manner before moving on.

Practice at home

If you’re unsure or worried about the set-up process, practice putting your tent together before leaving home. They can be a bit confusing at first, so take your time, read the instructions, and get comfortable putting it all together with confidence. It’ll save you some grief, believe me!

11. Kitchen Area

Find a spot that’s away from everyone’s sleeping quarters for your camp kitchen, hopefully with shade and good airflow. If there’s a water source, even better! Some experienced campers like to prop up a sort of covering to keep the sun off their necks, but that’s another added cost I’ll leave to you.

Cooking Space

You’re going to need ample space for prepping and cooking all of your food so the main thing you’ll need is a flat surface. If picnic tables are provided, drag one of those over, or if you brought your own table, unfold and set it up. You can also store all of your non-food items under these between meals.

Washing Space

After eating, it’ll be time to do the dishes. Don’t wait until after you’ve finished eating to get this ready. Get your portable sinks, place them where they need to go, and fill them up with water and soap for later on. You might want to cover them If there are a lot of bugs in the area.

Food Lockers

If your campground provides food lockers, locate these and use them to store all of your food overnight. They are usually pretty big, so your coolers and smaller food containers should easily fit inside.

12. Camp layout

If you’re traveling with a group or large family, designate a spot as a common area, usually an open-air place near the fire pit or a spot with an amazing view of the nearby landscape. Place your rugs, camp chairs, side tables, or hammocks here. Hang any decorative lights, or lanterns as needed.

Pro Tip – Bring extra lighting for the inside of your tent. A hanging nightlight is helpful late at night for reading or early in the morning to find what you need if it’s still dark out!

Games and Entertainment

To keep the kids from going bonkers with boredom, or for entertainment between hikes, take a few fun things with you and find a good spot for them. The classics include; corn hole, bocce ball, frisbee, playing cards, and of course the iconic guitar around the campfire

If you want to get a little more creative, you can set up a volleyball/badminton net, travel ping pong set, or Spikeball. I say have fun with it!

There are also the traditional outdoor fair that everybody knows and loves –

  1. Hiking
  2. Fishing
  3. Sightseeing
  4. Bird Watching
  5. Biking
  6. Water sports (canoe, kayak, stand-up paddle board, boating, etc.)
  7. Running
  8. Horseback riding
  9. Rock climbing
  10. Backpacking

Safety Tips and Etiquette

Even though camping is safe and fun, you should practice safe principles at all times, especially the farther away you’re going to be from civilization. Here are some useful, and practical, things to keep in mind during your first outing.

13. Campground Guidelines

Most campgrounds have rules for their guests they expect to be followed. Read up on them before or once you arrive so you know what’s required of you. Common camp standards include –

  • Parking and number of vehicles
  • Unregistered visitors
  • Pets allowed and behavior tolerated
  • Excessive noise during quiet hours
  • Cleanliness for your campsite and all public areas
  • Fire restrictions

14. Fire Safety

Speaking of fire, don’t be “that guy or gal” who started the next forest fire. Pay added attention to what’s allowed and what’s not. Some additional standard fire safety tips –

  • Keep campfires in designated areas. Don’t set up your grill or portable fire pit where it’s not wanted
  • After you’ve finished, completely extinguish all fires with water
  • Don’t throw your cigarette butts on the ground or in the brush
  • Disconnect all fuel or gas lines from stoves/grills when you’re finished

15. Emergency Escape Routes

In case of emergency, be cognizant of all ways in and out of your camping area. Your cell phone might lose service in remote areas, so relying on a digital medium for navigation could set you up for failure. Even GPS devices aren’t 100% foolproof.

For that reason, and others, take a paper map with you, just in case. They’ll be reliable and never run out of batteries! It only takes a few minutes to learn how to read a map, but can save your butt when ‘sh*t hits the fan so to speak.

Another good idea is to learn alternative ways to navigate without technology like using the stars. Knowledge is power right?!

16. Wildlife Encounters

I know that white-tailed deer is so adorable, but it’s always a good idea to keep your distance from all local wildlife. You never know what’s going on in their minds so stay at least 50 ft. away from non-predatory animals like owls, raccoons, and foxes.

When it comes to animals with sharp teeth and claws, it’s best to avoid them as best you can. Wildlife encounters can be dangerous at any moment, so stay alert, particularly in rugged backcountry.

17. Leave No Trace

I’ll leave it up to you to read the 7 principles of “leave no trace“, but in short, leave your campsite exactly how you found it. This includes no trash left behind, not disturbing the environment, and generally, being considerate of others.

18. Enjoy the Outdoors

Finally, take your time to really soak it all in. Go on hikes, jump in a lake or river for a swim, and cook and eat delicious meals over the campfire with friends and family. Stargaze at night under the clear black sky. Enjoy the peace and reset your body and mind.

Disconnect from technology and immerse yourself in nature’s tranquility. I promise, a few days away and you might not want to come back. When you do, however, you’ll return home refreshed and rejuvenated. There’s nothing like it!

Final Thoughts

Well, that’s it. If you’ve gotten this far, I have no doubt you’re completely ready to take on the outdoors on an exhilarating camping adventure!

Camping for beginners can seem daunting at first, but if you take the proper steps, it’s incredibly rewarding. Follow my suggestions, stay safe, and embrace the excitement of the great outdoors.

Remember, the best way to learn is by doing, so don’t be afraid to make mistakes and enjoy every moment of your first camping trip!

Good luck!

Author

  • James Ryan

    A seasoned hiker and adventurer who loves to travel and experience new things. An extrovert and creative at heart, James is most definitely a "People Person". He started this blog in the hopes of making somebody's day just a bit brighter!

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