"Bugs, not sanitary conditions and uncomfortable sleep"- that's what most people think about camping. Let me tell you what I find in it:
- the most beautiful nature views, loosely touched by humans, it means that I can finally see real picture and full colors not only on an HD screen;
- "undiscovered" trails for hiking and biking, so you feel like Robinson Crusoe, trying to reach some destination, even if can be physically hard, and there is no taxi you can catch;
- waking up breathing the freshest air;
- swimming in clean waters (the sea, a river, or a lake) without crowds of tourists;
- observing wild animals' and insects' behavior (it was both scary and incredible to watch wild horses walking freely through our campsite trying to find some food);
- no need to use electronic devices (may sound crazy, but if your phone beeping is part of your job, you will feel totally relaxed after a day with poor or no coverage);
- understanding that you can survive in the nature, understanding that we really don't need all the stuff we have in our homes;
- and last, but definitely not least for food-freaks like me, super new flavors of usual food prepared on fire with the real touch of grill (not some kind of essence you can buy with the grocery).
Maybe it is only when you grow older that you start to see beauty in these simple things, maybe this stuff is so amazing only for people who lived in a city all their life. But I saw the difference in watching a full moon with stars in the open sky at night with just the sound of the waves and I compare it with the same view in the city with honking cars, music from nearby bars, people talking boardwalk, and a pale sky due to the city lights... We could not make a picture of this amazing moment because the light of the moon was not enough bright for a smartphone camera, so I will save this amazing picture in my head. And now I know that it is real, not only something you see in the movies. Another big thing that started to be very important only recently is how to live in a healthier way. In my 20s, a weekend of fun was going to some party or, even if you go to the country, it would involve some booze for sure. Here in US, most of camps are alcohol free. Anyway, my drinking ability lowered tremendously, even remembering that I am Russian, and I feel happy just to be able to breathe fresh ocean breeze or forest smell after the rain for a change.
Anyway I will not try to convince you to start to go camping if you prefer to rent a house on a beach instead, rather I tell you my personal shop list of 10 items you need to buy in case if you want to do it one day:
1) A tent. For sure we needed to have place to sleep. We could rent a cabin, but we wanted a closer experience with the nature. We don't have license to drive RV, so we bought the simplest tent for 2 people.
2) Airbed and sleeping bags. Considering we are not in our 20s anymore, we needed a mattress, otherwise I don't know how our back would feel after sleeping on the ground. You could bring sheets instead of sleeping bags, but sleeping bags are rolled perfectly in a small case, and you don't make your home sheets very dirty. And of course we bought a pump with batteries and spare batteries.
3) Flash lights. We understood that each person should have one for going to the bathhouse in the dark. This year we also bought a lamp, which we put on the table when we had late dinner or in the tent at night. Also in this case not forgetting to take spare batteries.
4) Woods, lighter, lighter fluid and some paper. The woods we always buy on the way near the camp, because they always say that you should buy local wood, so you don't bring any insects from other places while everything else we buy at our grocery store when buying the food.
5) Spray from bugs. Bugs appear only in the evenings, or in the shadows, so basically during the day we didn't have any trouble. In the evening as it is normally colder, we put long sleeves shirts and long pants, so bugs didn't really have a lot to bite. Long sleeves combined with spraying were pretty effective. There are also plenty of candles and lights against. By the way, there is no bugs at all at the end of summer or early fall!!
6) Outdoor grill basket. We already have metal skewers so we bought a grill grid. But a basic one as even a small net was enough for us.
7) Tablecloth, napkins, paper plates, and plastic cups, forks and knives. I also take one standard metal knife in order to cut harder stuff, the one for camping, which you can close. Some people use plastic plates that they wash afterwards, but it just sound like a lot of work for a weekend, especially because paper plates can be burnt in the fire once you finish and don’t need to be put in waste. The end of table cloth, as it is long, we used it to cover the things on the table (as during night it was humid), but we never left anything except plates, glasses, and other non-food items, not to attract night “predators”.
8) Personal shower items. Even though we always went to Modern Camping which has toilette, sinks with soap and paper towels/hand dryers, there was nothing inside of the shower. So we took shampoo, shower gel and towels (personally, as a woman, of course I am also taking cleanser, day/night cream and even body lotion).
9) Proper shoes and cloths. We always take flip-flops to go to swim or to the shower and a second pair of sport shoes to hike or for the evening. One set of warm clothes with long sleeves as I mentioned before, one set of lighter cloths if it is hot and some pants and a t-shirt for sleeping.
10) Cooler and food. We normally take meat for grilling like: chicken wings, pork kebab, burgers/hot-dogs, maybe fish (salmon steak) and vegetables like zucchini, peppers, corn, tomatoes. Also in our shopping list are bread and rolls, drinks, snacks, salad, fruits and sauces (ketchup, mayo, mustard, BBQ sauce).
This is what we always take to go camping. Apart from that, it also depends on the type of camp, we can take bikes, swim suits, table games, balls, etc. So you already get an idea, what a camping weekend looks like for us: nature, some sport and lots of sleeping and food. We see a lot of families near our campsite and we wish our kids in the future can also enjoy this type of vacation instead of sitting all the weekend in front of computer or TV. Don’t get me wrong, I love going to the shore and stay in a nice hotel, enjoying walking and window shopping on the boardwalk, and trying local food in nice restaurants. It is just a different way to spend your weekend, like watching comedy or action movies. And when I come home from camping, I always like to enjoy right away the achievements of civilization, as I do right now writing this blog on my laptop with the AC on.