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Planning Your First Camping Trip? Make it Easy

Whether you’re pitching a tent borrowed from a neighbour or cruising in a rented RV, the essence of camping remains the same: to reconnect with nature and create lasting memories. For some novice campers the mere thought of sleeping outside and cooking over a campfire can be daunting, but with preparation, even newbies can enjoy their outdoor experience.

Packing the Car for a Camping Trip

Here are some simple tips to help plan your camping trips:

Expectations

What type of camping experience are you after? Would you like a deluxe campground with a swimming pool and organized kids’ programs or an abundance of hiking trails and lake activities? Deciding on this will help in your campground selection process. For a shorter and perhaps easier getaway start off with a campground close to home.

Reservations

Reserve your campground site. Doing so will secure your spot and, since the Covid-19 pandemic, this is often necessary during peak seasons. Consider what might be the ideal site, whether this means partial sun, shade or a ‘pull-thru’ site for the RV. (Check links below to locate and reserve campsites in British Columbia.)

Familiarization

Research the available facilities and any necessary permits or regulations to purchase or adhere to. Arrive early at your campsite, particularly if you are unfamiliar with the RV or require extra time to set up tents. Locate the garbage disposal area and familiarize yourself with quiet time hours.

Herald Provincial Park, Salmon Arm, Shuswap Lake

Gear Selection

If you don’t own camping equipment, consider borrowing or renting gear for your first few trips. Assemble any tents, tarps/covers and cooking stoves in advance to verify that everything works correctly. Air out any sleeping bags, pack appropriate pillows and check that all flashlights, headlamps and lanterns are working and charged. Pack any necessary portable chargers and extra batteries, as well as a fire starter and extinguisher, insect repellant and first-aid kit. Dollar store deals can be a camper’s best friend. (Try plastic storage buckets for easy organization and eye masks and ear plugs for sensitive sleepers.)

Entertainment Options

Pack a variety of card and board games to keep everyone entertained and try a temporary ban on electronic devices to fully immerse in the outdoor experience. Room permitting, bring along outdoor games such as cornhole, horseshoes, balls and Frisbees. Inquire about organized indoor and outdoor kids’ programs offered by the campground or nearby community events.

Prior Centennial Campground, Pender Island

Picnic Practicalities

Invest in a few tablecloths and clips, bug repellant candles, small side tables, rain/shade covers and an outdoor tent/RV entrance rug to keep the dirt out.

Child Safety

Bring a portable playpen for babies to ensure their safety while parents are busy setting up camp. Pack child specific first-aid supplies.

Man and dog by a lake
Follow Pet Rules in Campgrounds

Pet Patrol

If pets are allowed at the campsite and you’re bringing yours, pack their food, snacks, toys and sleeping essentials as well as a pet first-aid kit. Verify what rules to abide by; there may be restrictions with regards to leash length or breed of dog.

Cooking Supplies

Pack everyday kitchen items including a good peeler, pots and pans, tongs, spatulas and a grill grate for cooking over the fire. Bring trash bags, paper and tea towels, biodegradable cleaning sprays, sponges and wipes. Stock up on sauces and seasonings, oils, herbs and salt and pepper to liven up your meals.

Packing Bin for Camping
Clear Plastic Packing Bins Make Great Containers for Camping

Meals and Snacks

Prep before you go, consider dietary needs/preferences, select multi-use ingredients for easy recipes, pack non-perishable and healthy high-energy snacks and use storage containers. Ensure you have a variety of proteins, starches and carbohydrates to keep you feeling energized and bring ample bottled water as a back-up should the campsite water not be potable.

Everybody Clean-up

Camping should be a time for all family members to relax. Take turns sharing the chores and get everyone involved, inside and out of the tent and RV. Practice the Camper’s Code principles which means cleaning up after yourself and leaving the campsite better than you found it.

Campsite at Bromley Rock Provincial Park, Similkameen
Campsite at Bromley Rock Provincial Park, Similkameen

What to Wear

Clothing selection should be tailored to the destination, weather conditions and activities and outings. Rain Gear: Invest in waterproof boots, a water-resistant coat and an umbrella. Layering Pieces: Pack versatile clothes such as breathable long-sleeved shirts and lightweight tops and underclothes to adapt to fluctuating temperatures, and extra socks should shoes and socks get wet. Sun Protection: Shield yourself from rays with a baseball cap or fishing hat. Sunscreen is a must! Footwear: Bring suitable footwear such as hiking boots or comfortable walking shoes. Flip-flops or waterproof sandals are essential, particularly if you’ll be using communal showers or hiking near water.

The more you camp, the more planning an outing will be second nature. Reflect on what worked well and what didn’t after each trip and use the above tips and your gained knowledge to improve upon future camping adventures.

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A good resource to help find all campgrounds (provincial, private, national and recreation sites) located throughout British Columbia is www.campingrvbc.com/camping. You can also make a reservation at some provincial parks at DiscoverCamping. For national parks go to Parks Canada Reservation Service. To reserve at a private facility, contact the individual campground. More information on Recreation Sites can be found at sitesandtrailsbc.ca

Share your BC camping, RVing and travel photos using hashtag #CampinBC #explorebc

It’s always a great day to #Campinbc

Published: March 14th, 2024

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