The Adventurous Girl’s Guide to Camping for the First Time
I had been dating the same man for over a decade before he got me to go camping with him, and this fine fellow is a proud Eagle Scout (just like David Lynch)! I didn’t really grow up camping with my parents, we were more budget hotel kind of middle-class folk, who enjoyed the basic amenities of cable, a pool, and an ice machine.
But finally, I popped my pitching-a-tent cherry last year with a trip to Big Sur. Waking up every morning and opening my tent flap to a view of the misty Pacific Ocean was enough to convert me for life. I finally got over one of my supposed annoyances regarding camping: it’s not *only* about sleeping on the ground, it’s about being close to nature and having a more direct relationship with it. It’s good for the spirit. So here’s a little advice for you if you’re camping for the first time. I omitted things like “Bring a tent” because hopefully you know that already (we hope).
1) Bring gloves and/or get used to your hands being dirty.
You may have to fold up a tarp that has *gasp*, been lying on the ground where…there is dirt! You can do like I do – just walk over to a nearby water spigot and wash your hands right away. I guess you could wear work gloves from Home Depot while doing grungy tasks. (Or you can just get over it too.)
2) Get used to…”hovering”
Without being completely crass, what I’m referring to is your style of going to the bathroom. The restrooms on most campgrounds are not going to be like the ones in the Ritz Carlton. You will need to hover the entire time you are camping or bring toilet seat covers with you. Oh, just hover! It’s better for the environment.
3) When in Rome…BE PREPARED!
There’s a reason it’s the Boy Scouts’ motto, because you will be effen miserable if you haven’t thought about the little details. You will need basics like plenty of sunscreen, comfortable hiking shoes you don’t mind getting dirty, your beauty gear, a big towel, flip flops for the communal shower, a bathing suit, good socks that will keep you warm OR cool. Make a list, think about your living arrangements for the next few days and also be prepared for weather to change on you.
4) Attend to your city-girl needs.
By this I mean, make sure you are going to be comfortable sleeping on the ground in a tent. Do you have something, if not, MANY things to go under your sleeping bag? If you are traveling with folks that don’t mind a little extra gear, you can even bring an air mattress out there with you! I go with a self-inflating bed roll which is always annoying to pack up and put away but puts a much-needed barrier between my spine and the rocks under my tent.
5) If you drink…by all means, bring some booze.
You will discover a new joy in life, drinking a glass of wine in front of a campfire. After a long day of hiking or whatever other outdoors-y calorie-burning sweat-inducing dusty activities you are up to, a nice chilled glass of wine, or your favorite icy beer, tucked away in the ice chest, is going to be absolutely soul-affirming.
6) Leave your gadgets behind.
Listen to the sound of nothing for once. Sometimes nothing sounds like frogs croaking, birds singing, the crackle of a fire, the wind rustling through the trees. You will find yourself liberated from a laptop…and start noticing things like clouds drifting across the horizon. It doesn’t sound like much, but you will be surprised at how it feels like a reboot for the soul.
(Secret tip #7: Be ready for en plein air romantic encounters.
There’s something nice and intimate and downright snuggly about zipping your sleeping bags together. Be adventurous, and we salute your tent-shaking endeavors!)