how to start camping as beginner

How to Start Camping as a Beginner

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how to start camping as a beginner

If you’re thinking about going camping for the first time but are unsure how to get started, today I wanted to share how to start camping for absolute beginners and camping newbies!

I tend to take for granted that camping is just something our family has done forever since I was a baby – and something my parents and grandparents did long before I was even born. When I meet friends who have never camped before, I of course always invite them to try it out with us, although some are a little nervous about the idea!

The good news is, 100% of them have always said they would do it again – and they do, whether joining us for another trip or even being adventurous to go camping on their own with their friends and family.

If you are new to camping, or maybe you know a beginner camper who will be joining you for a trip, my hope is this article will help you make the first experience a fun and safe fun!

how to start camping for beginners

While this may be a little different for every person, these are the basics for getting started, and some tips for what you’ll need to know that first time out!

#1: Plan Your Trip in Advance

plan your trip

As seasoned campers, we are a little more relaxed in planning where we will stay and what we will do. More than a few times we would travel with one destination in mind and end up a few states over “since we were out that way”.

When you are a new beginner camper however, this could add to extra stress if you do not have a clear destination. Some campgrounds have reservation requirements and minimum night stays, especially on holidays and weekends.

If you are unfamiliar with an area, you may find it difficult to find amenities such as gas stations or even a grocery store.

For new campers, I recommend choosing a destination that is within 25-45 minutes of a major town or city if possible – this will ensure that if you need something you may have forgotten or not thought to pack you will be able to get it!

Cell phone reception in rural areas can be iffy {despite what the service coverage map might suggest!} – so if you rely on your phone for GPS, you could find yourself completely lost in the middle of nowhere!

In general, it’s a good idea to begin your search for where to take your first camping trip for an area that is no more than an hour or two from your own home. This will help ensure you have some familiarity with the area.

You may also wish to choose a campground which has all the amenities – or at the very least public restrooms with running water and electric hookups.

This will help allow you to get more experience in camping before you tackle the true roughing it and needing to have some survival skills to ensure you have water and other basic needs met.

#2: Go With Experienced Friends if Possible

go group camping first time

One of the best things about going with friends and family for camping is that if you forget something or get stuck with anything, they can help!

For example, I can start a fire in the pouring down rain with zero kindling – but that kind of skill comes from 20 years of dedicated practice every single summer!

We also finally have that magic system almost perfected to ensure we never forget anything truly essential when camping – I will admit there have been more than a few times I would forget simple things like a can opener or even flashlights.

The other nice part about bringing experienced friends is they can help you stay in good spirits should you have less-than-stellar weather conditions – as they have likely survived their fair share of rainy or cold camping trips!

#3: Check Your State’s Department of Conservation & Recreation

pa dept of conservation website

We are lucky that where we live in Pennsylvania we have so many beautiful state parks which offer camping. Many of the state parks offer first-time camping programs where you can get discounted rates as well as help and gear. If you do not have your own tent or an RV, you can also explore into renting a cabin, cottage, or yurt from a state park.

Another good reason to check your state’s department of conservation and recreation is to make sure you are aware of all rules and regulations before you go. For example, it is illegal to move firewood from one county to another in Pennsylvania. Most of the state parks have minimal rules, but they are rules you need to make sure you follow – such as not having alcoholic beverages or making a lot of noise after midnight.

State park offices also have a wealth of information available for you. They can provide you with information on hiking trails and wildlife areas, local area attractions, and often can help you with anything you might need in getting started with camping for the first time.

#4: Start With the Essential Basic Camping Gear

It’s easy to get lost and caught up in all the different camping supplies available! Some things are absolutely essential, others are nice to have, and some things can be more of a hassle than they are worth to pack!

At the bare minimum, you will need shelter such as a camping tent, blankets, food and water, a way to cook and prepare your food, clothes for both hot days and chilly evenings, personal care items such as soap, shampoo, medications, a first aid kit, insect repellent and sunscreen. Additional things to bring would be a small hatchet for firewood, folding chairs for around the fire, and of course any books or activities you may wish to bring along with you camping.

As you gain more experience in camping, you will learn more and more about what supplies you need and which ones you don’t really use as much as you thought.

#5: Practice Safety First Always!

alligators safety warning

Safety is so important, especially when you are new to camping. If you have not brushed up on your first aid skills recently, this is a good time to refresh your memory on how to apply basic first aid.

In camping, prevention is the best way to stay safe, because most camping accidents and injuries can be completely prevented.

You should always be sure you have enough clean drinking water to stay hydrated, an effective insect repellent to ward off any tick-borne or mosquito spread diseases and illnesses, and sunscreen with a minimum SPF of 30.

These three things alone sound like such good common sense when you first start camping, but I can’t tell you how many times people forget things like sunscreen and insect repellent!

You should also take into consideration what wildlife you may encounter while camping. Bears, alligators, birds, squirrels, raccoons – we’ve had all of these! It is very important to never feed these animals, as well as to not leave out any trash or food that may attract them to your campsite.

Other important safety factors consider staying warm if it is cold, wearing a life preserver if you will be in the water, and making sure any fires you start are supervised and under control at all times and extinguished completely before leaving your campsite.

Yes, Camping is Worth It and a LOT of Fun!

After reading these tips for how to go camping for the first time, you might be feeling a little bit nervous, but I assure you it can be a lot of fun. It does not have to be complicated, nor do you need to spend a lot on camping gear to get started. You can always start out by renting a cabin or a yurt to test the waters first!

There are so many benefits to camping, and with the right preparedness you will avoid most of the common mishaps most people experience when camping the first time, such as getting sunburnt or being bitten my mosquitoes. Knowing what to expect ahead of time can save you a lot of hassles and headaches down the road!

With these tips and helpful hints, you will be ready for your first-time camping trip and you feel prepared enough to ensure everything will hopefully go smoothly for you! Before you know it, you will want to go camping again and again and again!

Are you an experienced camper? What camping tips for beginners might you recommend? What would you suggest to someone who is interested in learning how to start camping? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!

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