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Take command of your adventure
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By:    On: 2011-08-10


On Monday I covered packing lists for the vehicle, personal gear and personal survival. Let’s now get into our base camp gear, camp cooking gear, family/group first aid and fun stuff.
Base Camp Gear:
·         Tents: We usually bring three tents. Two are for sleeping (The kids get their own tent. This helps to give them a bit of independence and some extra responsibility – they are in charge of tent upkeep.), and the third is a screen tent to enclose our kitchen/dining area. We usually string up mini holiday lights inside the screen tent for extra light after the sun goes down.
·         Camp stools/chairs: Let’s face it - the ground is hard! Make sure to pack a chair for each person, even if your camp site has a table. I prefer the mesh collapsible chairs because they clean off easily, they’re portable and they dry easily after an unexpected thunderstorm.
·         Tools: Axe, folding saw, folding shovel, rubber mallet. The moment you don’t pack these is the moment you’ll need them. Trust me. And don’t forget to bring work gloves!
·         Kits: Family/Group first aid, tent repair, sewing. Please see Murphy’s law for more explanation.
·         Toilet and toilet paper: We camp at sites which offer electricity and running water. If you prefer primitive camping, you may want to bring a camp toilet and eco-friendly paper. If a toilet is not in your budget, a large coffee can and a good supply of plastic shopping bags (recycling at it’s best!) will do the trick. The tp can be found at any WalleyWorld.
·         Utility Items: Extension cords, water containers, batteries. 
Extension cords are handy for all sorts of things; see above note about hanging lights. 
I keep the water pot for things like cooking and dish water; drinking water is kept in a water cooler, similar to those used by sports teams but smaller.
You will also want lanterns – we carry two main lanterns and a personal halogen deal for each kid. The adults carry personal flashlights. I like to bring two sets of batteries for every item that will need them. I carry them in plastic pencil boxes found at the dollar store. 
·         Small broom and dustpan: I purchased a set made for RV’s. I use it for sweeping out tents and the vehicle.
·         Fun Stuff: See below.
·         Firewood: Here’s the thing about firewood: most sites do not allow campers to bring in their own wood anymore. Especially out-of-state campers. I’m not sure about the specifics, but I believe it has something to do with bringing in bugs which aren’t indigenous to the camp area. It’s best to purchase wood from a local store – DO NOT buy wood from your campsite! You will usually pay more than you would at the grocery store half a mile up the street. 
Kitchen/Cooking Gear:
The kitchen/cooking is sort of my baby in our family. I love cooking and I enjoy it even more outdoors. And no, even though I’m quite capable, I don’t grill when we camp. To me grilling is cheating; I like to challenge myself with making full meals outside. Hey, I never said I wasn’t a bit strange! You won’t see a kitchen stand on this list; that’s because I don’t have one yet. There is one on my wish list though. You can see it here:
I also don’t have a portable sink on the list but that’s also on my wish list. Something like this:  Nifty, huh?
That said, let’s get to what is currently on my list, shall we?
·         Ice Chests and Ice: Plural. As in “more than one”. Including our drinking water cooler, we typically bring four chests, a large chest, two smaller chests, and the chest for drinking water. The large chest holds all of our (precooked; I’ll get to that in another post)proteins, cooked veggies, and the ice to keep it all cold. The two smaller chests hold drink boxes and the like and any dairy products we might bring, respectively. *Note: all dairy products get sealed into individual zippered freezer-type bags – even things that are already prepackaged. This practice helps in two ways: no melting ice water gets into the food, which prevents cross-contamination, and the food already has its own “left overs” bag. We do not keep eggs in the coolers; I like to buy eggs from local farm stands and those eggs don’t have to be refrigerated.      
A tip for your ice: use cubes, not chips. Cubes do not melt as quickly as chips. Also, precooked, frozen proteins do double-duty when it comes to keeping things cold.
·         Camp stove, Stove Stand and Propane: I usually bring 2 cans of propane for each day I’ll be cooking. Old Murphy at work again…
·         Cookware: griddle, Dutch oven, pots and pans, coffee pot. (If you don’t want an actual coffee pot, I suggest packing instant coffee.)
·         Utensils: Silverware (I HATE using plastic cutlery. It melts too easily and it’s not good for the environment. Go to the store and spend the $5 on a set of metal silverware.) Steak knives, chef’s knife, spatulas, serving spoons, slotted spoons, ladle, can opener, cork screw, bottle opener, tongs. I like to bring 2 of each of these because…well, you know….
·         Dishes: Cups, plates, bowls, coffee mugs. If you must use plastic, please purchase reusable plastic ware and not the throwaway stuff. Be kind to the environment please.
·         Necessities: Measuring cups and spoons, colander (I like the collapsible breed), pot holders, cutting boards (You can get an inexpensive travel set which has multiple boards in different colors. Great for guarding against cross-contamination.), wash tubs.
·         Spices and Condiments: I love to cook with spices, so I have a multi-spice container that I made out of a 7-day pill box. I also have salt and pepper shakers I made out old 35mm film canisters. However, if you don’t cook with a lot of spices, you don’t have a lot of space or you’re only going for an overnight trip, I suggest hanging on to the little salt/pepper packets you get from drive-through places. The same thing goes for condiments, if you don’t want to pack big bottles. I have a zippered bag filled with ketchup, mustard, syrup, duck sauce, soy sauce…you get the idea.
·         Other: dish soap, scouring pad, sponge, dish towels, paper towels, napkins (if you don’t bring fabric napkins which can be washed and reused, hint hint), matches, aluminum foil, trashbags, table cloths and weights for the cloths (another family craft project).
Family/Group First Aid Kit
It should go without saying but a little reminder never hurts. Pack insurance cards for every person on the trip. If anyone in your group has major allergies (bee, etc.) or health issues (asthma, diabetic, etc.), pack all pertinent medications as well as a brief medical history for each case. No one wants to think they’ll have to call an ambulance, but it’s better to be prepared just in case.
·         Bandages in multiple sizes, gauze, fabric tape, ace bandages
·         Scissors and a razor blade
·         Cloth or bandanas and popsicle sticks or tongue depressors (these make mighty fine splints in a pinch), string, twine and/or yarn
·         Antiseptic (I love NeoToGo), sun burn lotion and bug bite lotion (if you prefer homemade stuff, witch hazel steeped like tea and then cooled works really well for all three of these. Just apply with damp cloth.)
·         Baking soda (for a burn paste, among other uses)
·         Stomach, diarrhea, cold, flu, throat and kids’ medications. Something for car sickness wouldn’t be a bad idea either.
·         A mirror, a pair of tweezers, a nail clipper, sewing needles.
·         Latex gloves, a small mirror, warming/cooling blanket, water tablets, charcoal tablets, cold packs
       Many drug stores sell all-inclusive kits – and they’re great – but I prefer to make my own kit. Each new camping trip shows me one more thing I should put in the first aid kit that I didn’t already have.
Fun Stuff
  Let’s face it – hiking, sight-seeing and collecting leaves can get old after a couple of days, especially when there are younger kids on the trip. Here’s a list of things I typically pack to keep the kids happy and entertained:
·         Cards: We always have a standard deck but I also like to keep kids’ card games in the gamebag too. Dollar stores carry things like Old Maid, Go Fish and Crazy 8’s.
·         Dominoes: Younger kids might not be able to play a proper game of dominoes but there is always the option of “knock down”, as my daughter likes to call it.
·         Board Games: Why not make your own? I love this fabric checker board tutorial from Talk Crafty to Me
·         Balls: Of every shape and size. There’s bound to be a ball to make everyone happy. Throw in a Frisbee or two as well.
·         Radio/iPod/Music
·         Books/Coloring books/Art Paper
·         Crayons, chalk, markers, water color paints: Here’s a fun idea: The next rainy camping trip, have everyone make a chalk drawing or a water color painting. Then let them hold it in the rain and see what happens. (This doesn’t work so well in downpours; be careful.)
I think these lists just about cover all the basics. If you have anything to add or share please let me know! I’ll soon be posting a series of revamped Camp Kitchen articles so stay tuned.
‘Til then, happy camping!
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