My family has gone camping nearly half of the weekends of this year's summer. It was an amazing year to go because the temperatures stayed fairly low for the time of year. We went to several different camp grounds in Ohio and learned some helpful information along the way.
To preface: we go camping in our newly acquired pop-up camper that is about 15 years old. We do have a/c and a mini fridge that is usable as long as the campsite has an electrical hook-up!
We look for a camp site that provides some amount of shading (if not full), typically we prefer morning sun because at that point the camper doesn't get too hot by the time the sun is not directly on it anymore. The afternoon sun tends to make the camper hotter and it takes longer to cool before going in for the night.
It is great to have the fan for the a/c running if you are a light sleeper. I hear EVERYTHING so for me I would never sleep without it. One night the temperature dropped to the low 50's (in July!) and I turned it off so I wouldn't freeze. I heard all sorts of sounds and didn't sleep from 3-5 a.m. One of those sounds was surely a raccoon.
It probably looked like this:
But I imagine it looked like this:
Getting back to sending you helpful tips for a fun and enjoyable camping experience...because that was the point of the post. However, it can be important to note the difference between cute wildlife and the scary kind!
Camping Tips 101
-Make sure you have enough fresh, clean water: some camps have non-drinkable water. This includes cooking and brushing your teeth.
-Pack extra clothing. Weather changes rapidly, chill can set in in summer, rain ruins everything you are wearing. Underwear and socks should be 3-4X what you expect to need. Long pants are a must.
-Reserve popular campsite spots in advance. The really nice campgrounds have no vacancies sometimes more than a month in advance for weekends during the summer.
-Find out if your state has a loyalty or rewards program. Ohio has a points program that lets you use points to pay for you campsite. It's about 14 nights of camping get one free...but that's something!
-Bring Clorox or other disinfecting wipes. You have no idea what could be on/have been on your stuff if you leave it out overnight (please see scary raccoon above)
-Cutter bug spray. I TRY very hard not to use harsh chemicals when it isn't really necessary. However, after a camping trip near a lake that had flooded a week before I went, I was eaten alive. I probably had 100 bites per leg they were that bad. Don't be a hero-some people get severe reactions to mosquito bites.
-Pack extra food. You just never know what might happen. Survival situation, munchies, spoilage, animal ransack.
-Campsite lighting (separate from flashlights). This is for safety in your site area. It helps you see if you need to go to the bathroom at night, helps others see if someone is around, and helps you identify if there is a wild animal near by. I personally love hanging some decorative stringed lights from my camper awning. It provides just enough soft lighting for the immediate area.
-Toilet Paper! Yes, even if your campsite has flush toilets you never know if they could run out, get wet, stolen, or another tragedy. (Perhaps a wild raccoon shredding it apart?!)
-Precook and cut food before you go just in case your roaring campfire is less than you expected! There is a huge difference between enough heat to warm your food versus cooking it properly. Plus, it is easier to use your kitchen space at home than it is to be away.
-Look for discounted summer items after the 4th of July. Many stores start to mark down outdoor items because there is less need for them after the 4th. I find tea pitchers, grilling utensils, hard plastic plates, bowls and cups, as well as string lights that make great campsite lighting!