Last summer we took our first camping trip along the Delaware River at Soaring Eagle campground. With everyone I’ve talked to, camping is either a love or hate activity. Either you want to experience the outdoors in it’s entirety, or you don’t. Personally, I love the outdoors so camping was just for me, and I couldn’t believe I had waited so long to do it.
From the main entrance, driving to our campsite was a rough one. Pat had his new car so this part was nerve wracking. It started down a rocky, dirt path, past the RV campsites. From there the path lead into a small stream that flowed into the Delaware River. There was a bridge for people to walk over it, but not so much for cars. The stream was “paved” with flat rocks, but nowhere near a smooth surface, and the water was about a foot high. This did NOT look passable, but we figured if other cars got across so could we.
As soon as we got there we walked to the edge of our campsite, which met the Delaware River. It was so peaceful with the water flowing and sun about to start setting. We set up our tent, got the campfire going, and had a relaxing night. We spent the next two days fishing, kayaking, swimming, and cooking over the fire. No computers, no phones, no tv. It was so nice to get away for the weekend and just be outside around the clock.
Some Things We Learned…
Buy quality tent stakes. We bought an awesome tent, but the stakes that came with it were not so awesome. Since our campground was a bit rocky, the stakes bent when we hammered them into the ground. Needless to say, they didn’t leave the campground with us, and went in the trash instead. You can buy stakes separately at any sporting goods or outdoor store. The heavier stakes are more durable and are great if you are just driving up to your site, and not backpacking.
Hygiene: A common misconception is it’s impossible to maintain proper hygiene when camping. When I talk to people about going camping the first thing I hear is “I couldn’t imagine not showering or not having running water.” I guess if you’re backpacking in the backcountry that could be an issue, but most designated campgrounds offer showers and regular bathroom facilities.
If showers are unavailable, bring along a pack of body wipes. You’d be amazed what you can find on amazon.com. Hand sanitizer is a handy item as well. If you’re stuck with just a porta potty, or you’re cooking or fishing, it’s a must have to quickly sanitize.
Cooking: Being that it was our first time camping, we had a list prepared, but we still had a lack of experience. We thought (we thought) of everything except…a skillet. We had nothing to cook on! (amateurs) Our friends brought a portable grill with limited propane, and we were able to purchase a grate to place over the campfire to cook burgers on, but it was hard to work with.
We drove into a very small, quaint nearby town to the local café for breakfast (I know this is cheating) and to see where we could get a skillet. The awesome manager of the café actually gave us one of her old skillets, and so we were able to have the rest of our meals by camp fire.
It’s all peaceful until…Our first night started out very relaxing…until the caravan of boy scouts showed up at the camp plot next to ours. You would have thought an entire army had just unloaded! We were just getting to sleep when they disturbed the quiet night. At about 5 a.m., the camp leaders were about 5 feet away from our tent as they yelled at their scouts to wake up. Talk about a wake up call! Be weary of those empty camp sites that are still waiting to be occupied. 😉
Have any others tips for first time campers? Share them here!!