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Camping in British Columbia: Tips for First Timers

For some people, planning a two week camping trip is second nature. Simply pull neatly organized camping supplies out of the garage, reserve some campgrounds and load up the family in the RV. Then there are those that have never gone camping before. The thought of figuring out how to sleep, cook and survive at a campground in the great outdoors is equivalent to summiting Mt. Everest. 

Photo: Silvana Clark

Relax. With a little advance planning, anyone can have at least a “semi-successful” camping experience guaranteed to provide great memories. How can you forget dad tipping over in his canoe while reaching for a stray paddle? You’ll always remember the look of delight as your preschooler pokes a stick through her hot dog and roasts it over a campfire.

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Camping, whether in a borrowed tent from your neighbour, or in a $100,000 RV, boils down to spending time with family and friends. A time to get away from work, school and Netflix. Even kids glued to their electronics will gain an appreciation for nature as they wade in icy streams, or paddle a kayak for the first time.

Take games with you to keep everyone entertained. Photo: Silvana Clark

The following are a few simple tips to help ease the stress of planning a camping trip. Even if you just pick five tips to try, you’ll be way ahead of other first-time campers!

  • Start small. This is not the time to plan a trip to Glacier National Park if you live outside British Columbia. Start small and drive to a campground within an hour of home.
  • Don’t have a tent or RV? No problem. See if you can borrow a tent from a friend or rent an RV. This lets you experience a few aspects of camping without making a big financial commitment.
  • Make sure to make reservations at your campground. Many times, off-season reservations aren’t necessary, but why take the risk?
  • Decide ahead of time what type of campground you want. Looking for a deluxe campground offering an Olympic sized swimming pool and organized kid’s programs? Or would you prefer something more laid-back with hiking trails and a chance to relax by a lake?
  • Arrive early at your campsite, especially if you are unfamiliar with your RV or even how to set up the tent. You’ll be more comfortable getting your campsite ready if you don’t have “neighbours” sitting in their lawn chairs watching you muddle your way through leveling your RV. Speaking of RV’s…make life easy and ask for a “Pull Thru” site where you simply pull the RV through a site. No awkward backing into place!
  • Bring a variety of card and board games in case the weather turns on you. Be brave and ban all electronic devices during the camping trip. That goes for adults as well!
  • The Dollar Store is a camper’s best friend. Purchase a variety of plastic storage buckets to use for easy organization. Fill one with basic First Aid supplies. Don’t forget bug spray! Other tubs can hold condiments, plastic dishes, and glow-sticks for late night fun.
  • While at the Dollar Store, pick up some flip flops for every family member to use in the campground washrooms and shower.
Having fun in the water. Photo: Silvana Clark
  • Bring a tablecloth. Most campground picnic tables are a bit rough and rugged. A plastic tablecloth adds elegance to your dining!
  • It wouldn’t be camping without a campfire! Before you leave home, have kids make simple fire starters. Cut cardboard toilet paper rolls in half. Stuff each half with dryer lint, then wrap each piece in wax paper. Twist the two ends, which serve as your wick when placed on the firewood.
  • A play pen or pack and play keep crawling babies safe. It’s easy to get distracted while setting up a campsite, so play it safe and have your little one watch you from a safe, contained place.
  • When you register, ask if any kid’s programs are available. It’s nice to break up the day with an organized event geared to kids.
  • When it comes to food on your first-time camping trip, forget the fancy recipes. Try a version of the ever popular “Walking Tacos”. Simply give everyone their individual bag of Fritos. Heat up a can of your favorite chili and plop a few spoonful’s in the bag. Top with cut up tomatoes, shredded cheese, sour cream and salsa. Dinner with no dishes!
  • Camping should be a time for all family members to relax, instead of one person “stuck” with cooking and cleaning up. There’s nothing wrong with cereal for breakfast and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for lunch. Bring some prepared hamburger meat from home to barbeque for dinner. Add a packaged salad mix and some purchased potato salad and you have a meal. After you have a few camping trips under your belt, try cooking in a Dutch oven or making breakfast burritos over the campfire. Just Google, “Easy Camping Recipes” and you’ll have ideas galore!
Kids at play. Photo: Silvana Clark

Camping trips are a chance for family members to connect in a different setting than in front of the TV. Even if you are hesitant about sleeping in the great outdoors, challenge your family to give camping a try. You may find fresh air, hikes and good old S’mores make for a wonderful weekend!

Playing on the beach. Photo: Silvana Clark

For more Camping How-Tos check out these blogs

For campgrounds & RV parks in BC go to the BC Camping Map.

Share your BC camping and travel photos using hashtag #campinbc #explorebc #green #bcnice

It’s always a great day to #CampinBC

5 Go To Camping Games for the Whole Family

Card Games. Photo: Darlene O

Card Games. Photo: Darlene O

When thinking of the annual camping trip(s) and preparing lists, I find that the first list that comes to mind is the “Entertainment list”.  No I am not talking about bringing the TV, PVR or the DVDs.  I’m talking about good old sit down games that are fun for all ages.  The list for games is quite vast, so I’ll keep it simple with my 5 great games to play while camping.

A Deck of Cards

A deck of cards or two always make it into the RV for mostly everyone. Oh the multitude of games that can be played with this great game invention (kudos to the Chinese, as the cards were originally invented by them before AD1000). Did you know that the reason behind four suits was to represent the four seasons and that the 13 cards represented the lunar cycle as well as 52 cards representing 52 weeks in a year (366 days also adds up to the point value of the suits in a deck, each joker counts as 1 and ace through K, added up is 366). The games that are popular with our group of campers are Cribbage, Solitaire, Golf and Rummy.

Mexican Train Game

Mexican Train Game

Mexican Train

The domino game that is fun for groups.  A twist on the traditional game of dominoes.  Our set consists of “Double Twelves”.  There are 91 dominoes numbered from blank to twelve. We start with the double twelve tile and everyone else also has to start their train with the same number tile. This is put into the centre – known as the hub. The more people you have the less dominoes each of you need.  We bought wooden domino holders to make the playing a little easier. There are accessories that you can purchase from toy stores to enhance the game play as well. The gist of the game is that you start with the highest double tile you have.  We play with a double 12 pack which at the start of the game is put in the middle of the table.  Each person takes the number of dominoes decided upon for the amount of players.  We usually have a minimum of four players and that means everyone takes 14 dominoes. You try to make a train using the dominoes you have but your train has to start with the initial one put down in the hub.  So if it is a 12, then your first domino has to be a 12.  You want to line them up on your board end to end matching numbers for continuous play. Visit http://mexicantrainrulesandstrategies.com/ for rules and strategies.  I’m sure you will be as addicted to this game as I am.

Rummikub or Rummy O.

Rummikub or Rummy O. Photo: Darlene O

Rummikub also known as Rummy O

I first learned about this game on a trip to England and promptly purchased it upon my return, then found that so many of my friends wanted to join in on the fun, so I purchased a second set.  Then when it came to the camping season, I found myself transferring the game in and out of the RV, so that is when I purchased two more sets. This addicting game comes with 104 (2 of each numbered 1-13 in each color) tiles that are separated into four colors – red, blue, yellow and black and two joker tiles, one red and one black.  Players each get a tile holder and all the tiles are placed upside down on the table. Each player takes 14 tiles (based on 4 players. If there are more players, then reduce the number taken so that you have about half the tiles left on the table). Players can choose who goes first. To start play you must be able to place tiles down in either sets or runs with a point total of 30.  If you can’t you must pick up and the turn goes to the next person.  The winner is the person who uses up all their tiles. You will learn tricks along the way.  A great way to teach kids adding and counting while having family fun.

Campfire Alphabet Games

I know there is not always a real campfire, but even the ban-buster firepits are still fun to sit around.  That’s when we find ourselves coming up with the campfire alphabet game, and the many variations throughout a trip too.

Dice Games

Dice Games

Take names of bands for example- the first person in the group starts with A and perhaps would say Aerosmith, then the next would say Abba, and so on until the last person.  Play then moves to the person beside the one that went first and keeps moving along with a new person starting each round, so everyone gets a chance to be first.  If you can’t name a band, then you have to name two songs starting with that letter.  Play until Z.   We have other variations, such as fruits, vegetables, camping equipment, cities… the possibilities are endless and once again the kids are learning without realizing it.

Games to Play While Camping

Games to Play While Camping. Photo: Darlene O

Dice Games

Dice are usually found floating around the bottom of a drawer.  I have a few different sets of dice that I bring camping. I have a set of six fist-sized foam dice that are great for playing almost anywhere.  They are quiet when they land as opposed to traditional resin dice.  We use dice for a few games, the most popular being Yahtzee.  We play without the traditional game pad because after playing for so many years we know what we need to acquire to play.  All you need is five dice, a paper and pen and you’re good to go.

There are so many games available that will keep you and your family occupied for hours and they’re fun. You can visit sites like Hasbro and Milton Bradley for other games.

For places to camp in British Columbia go to Camping & RVing BC Camping Map.

Post your BC travel and camping photos using the hashtag #CampinBC

Published: October 26th, 2018

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