Camping for Dummies II: Things I did wrong!

I really appreciated everyone’s great advice for our camping trip last weekend. I thought about all that you guys wrote as I packed up and while we were at the campsite.

The Stone Mountain campgrounds are very nice. Although, Michael found it to be crowded and not just because of the Cub Scouts. He said it was like a tent city.

I liked the pavilion with the giant fire pit/grill area where we had dinner. The kids had a fantastic time running around like maniacs on the greens outside the pavilion and on the playground. It’s all very kid friendly – even my kids couldn’t get in trouble there.

We did have running water and electricity at the tent site, but we didn’t need it. There are bathrooms all around the campground, and they were actually pretty clean and didn’t smell funky at all.

Overall, the trip was extremely relaxing once we got there. (It was stressful trying to make sure your remembered everything you needed.) It was beautiful weather to be outdoors. (We didn’t camp on the rainy Friday night just the 45 degree Saturday night.) It was also great to spend time with our kids and to get to know the other families in our school. But there were some complications:

Here’s what we did wrong:

  1. We needed help putting up the tent. It was an 8-man tent and had a “porch” on it so it was a little more complicated than a smaller tent would have been. But our den leaders helped us and I think we would do a much better job if we borrowed the tent again.
  2. I completely underestimated the need for the air mattress. I end up sleeping on the floor a lot with the baby in her room so I felt like, what’s the difference. I can sleep on the ground. However, I didn’t put together that under that thin layer of dirt at the Stone Mountain campground is GRANITE! It was unbelievably hard! I tossed and turned much of the night and my back ached for hours. I would never camp again without an air mattress.
  3. While it didn’t look like our tent was on a slight slope, you could tell it was as soon as we curled up for the night. Michael and the boy were rolling toward me all night long. At the very least we should have picked up our sleeping bags and laid vertical on the hill instead of horizontal. But it was cold and we were tired.
  4. I learned that in the dark you’re supposed to point your flashlight at the ground and not in people’s faces even though you’re trying to identify your husband. I arrived late to the campfire because I took Rose to my mom’s house (She was so sad to leave.) and while looking for Michael and Walsh I fell in a giant hole! I twisted my ankle and it hurt like crazy. Michael was all embarrassed that I was lying on the ground in a ditch but it was pitch dark and I didn’t want to put any weight on it yet. So I just laid there until it felt better.

It got down to 45 degrees that night. We all had on a bunch of layers  and we slept in hats and coats so it wasn’t terrible. I left the campsite at 7:15 a.m. to walk our dog and get the girls from my mom. Michael said “Hurry back. Don’t leave me here.” He was ready to go.
Overall, I think it went pretty well and Michael even sent me a link about camping on Cumberland Island this spring.

So how do you think I did? What were your rookie mistakes? Have you ever camped at Cumberland Island? Give us advice if you have.

(I may post a second topic later today since we talked about this so much last week.)

95 comments Add your comment

Stan

October 27th, 2009
9:45 am

You were warned several times about the air mattress…

Glad you had fun.

lmno

October 27th, 2009
9:49 am

I love camping. I love my wife. I don’t love taking my wife camping. I mean, its great that she’s there, but all I need for a 20 mile, two night hike, can fit on my back. What she needs to camp next to the car is 10 times that amount.

Jesse's Girl

October 27th, 2009
9:51 am

Jesse took me camping for the very first time 3 years ago. I will never go again…..and I had an air matttress. I lost my camping virginity at Stone Moutnain as well. And Michael is absolutely right. It is indeed a tent city. If it weren’t for the “facilities” they have there…it could have easily passed for a commune of some kind. I was totally creeped out the entire time. I am not a nature girl anyway. I was doing this because it meant the world to Jesse and the kids. So I sucked it up and flashed a huge grin everytime they looked at me. It was important to them that I enjoy this….so I lied like a rug. BUT I HATED IT WITH A FIREY PASSION!!!!! My air mattress deflated in the middle of the night. I was laying on what was quite possibly the pointiest rock EVER…..it was freezing…I heard every syllable of every conversation the people around us were having….and I didn’t pee the whole time we were there. Everytime I visited the “bathroom”, someone was in there taking a giant dump. Now…I know thats what the bathroom is for. However, I do not care to hear the plop-plop of strange turds. Its disturbing. By the time morning rolled around…I had packed up what I could on my own. Jesse took the hint and he attended to the tent…we also had a “porch”…not very porchy. Then the kids wanted to do the paddle boats. I am afraid of birds….freakishly so. And because Jesus gets a huge kick out of seeing me have a fit…He sent a flock of them to our boat to take a crap. I was actually paddling with my hands to get back to that stupid dock.

Now the kids are wanting to go again. Jesse knew how this would turn out for me. But the kids remain clueless…I think. Or maybe they are more deviant than I realize. But I simply cannot face another camping adventure. I am getting too old to do things that make me so stinkin miserable.

Kathy

October 27th, 2009
10:12 am

Before you go to Cumberland, you might want to try a few local state parks, just to get some more camping experience under your belt. My parents love to camp and some of their favorite places are Fort Yargo (just up 316), Tugaloo State Park (Lake Hartwell) and High Falls State Park (just South of McDonough). All are very beautiful, relatively inexpensive and have good facilities.

lmno

October 27th, 2009
10:21 am

jesse’s girl, tell them to go without you. They will have a better time if you aren’t there anyway.

I have camped at SMP before as well, and it really is too crowded for my tastes.

Andrea

October 27th, 2009
10:23 am

My son loves to camp and he loves camping with his dad. It is one of their father/son things and I am all for it. It’s not for me. When they set up campsite at the Ritz Carlton or the Four Seasons – I am so there!

rmh

October 27th, 2009
10:23 am

Glad that you survived with only a few problems. Did your son have a good time?

mom2alex&max

October 27th, 2009
10:25 am

We went to the BSA camp site weekend before last. I hated every single damn minute I was there.

Camping SUCKS.

Jesse's Girl

October 27th, 2009
10:26 am

I agree….camping is so not my thing. Roughin it to me means a Motel. Like Motel 6…or one with the doors on the OUTSIDE. Yes…I am a total Hotel snob. I embrace it….I own it.

JATL

October 27th, 2009
10:27 am

You definitely need more camping experience before doing Cumberland Island. You have to pack your stuff in on Cumberland -not drive your loaded car in -and you need your own tent that you’re very comfortable setting up, cooking implements, etc. Give some state parks a try and go up to N. Georgia and camp on National Forest land -but NOT in a campground to get used to no toilets, etc.

JJ

October 27th, 2009
10:33 am

I love to camp, but then again, I’m very outdoorsy…..I don’t let too much bother me……bugs don’t scare me, spiders don’t either……

We were camping once when I was about 10 years old, at Flaming Gorge. We had a family of skunks that set up camp right next to us….STINKY!!!!!

I think that is the worst experience I have ever had camping…….I have always wanted to go up to the “Hike Inn” outside Dahlonega……

lmno

October 27th, 2009
10:35 am

Oh, you’re doing Cumberland Island?

Get a tent. A MUCH smaller tent.

Actually, get two. One small one for you and your husband, and one small one for the kids.

You cannot hike with a big tent

Camping at Cumberland Island!!!!

October 27th, 2009
10:39 am

“It was stressful trying to make sure your remembered everything you needed.” – and you live 10 minutes from Stone Mountain and were going for only 1 night?

You did not say if you were going to go camping at Cumberland Island, but if you are thinking about it, QUIT THINKING ABOUT IT RIGHT NOW!!!!! You will have no chance, especially if you twisted your ankle BEFORE you even got there – LOL! There is nothing wrong with being a “hotel” snob. Not everyone is a camper, and some should not even try, and I believe you must proved that – no offense intended!

LOL...

October 27th, 2009
10:43 am

…”While it didn’t look like our tent was on a slight slope, you could tell it was as soon as we curled up for the night. Michael and the boy were rolling toward me all night long. At the very least we should have picked up our sleeping bags and laid vertical on the hill instead of horizontal”

Well, DUH!!!! Again, DON’T EVEN THINK ABOUT GOING TO CUMBERLAND ISLAND – you will never be heard from again…..and they really do have rapists and bears and wild animals there!!!!

lmno

October 27th, 2009
10:44 am

“There is nothing wrong with being a “hotel” snob. Not everyone is a camper, and some should not even try,”

I kind of disagree. I think that every person should learn to camp. It should be taught at a young age. It teaches you to live with less. Car camping isn’t reallly the same thing. You need to do overnight hiking really to understand. When you are going to be hiking for three days, you learn quickly that anything you bring with you increases your load. You start to really think, “Do I HAVE to have that extra change of clothes”. Its a good life lesson.

anne

October 27th, 2009
10:56 am

Imno – I disagree that everyone should learn to camp. Yes, I think everyone should go camping at least once in their life for the experience.

No, I do not like camping. I tried it – several times – as a Girl Scout, even going winter camping in Northern Wisconsin. Will never do it again. DD is a Girl Scout. I do not go camping with her. I let the other Moms who enjoy camping go camping with the troop. I stay at home. I am the Cookie Mom, however.

Jesse's Girl

October 27th, 2009
11:00 am

Yes..I do need that extra change of clothes….I need shampoo and conditioner…I need a toilet that actually flushes. Camp with me one night….just one…and I will provide you with a lifetime’s worth of memories that make you laugh so hard you will puke.

JJ

October 27th, 2009
11:03 am

Yes, the skills you learn when camping come in to play in real life…..If I was ever lost in the wilderness, I’m sure I can survive. I know how to build a fire, catch a fish, gut same fish, and look for and build shelter…..for a couple of days anyway….Nothing long term.

Zaboo

October 27th, 2009
11:04 am

@Anne

Are the cookies made from real girl scouts?

DB

October 27th, 2009
11:20 am

While camping is not my “thing”, I sometimes watch those apocalyptic-type movies and wonder how I would fare if I got caught in such a situation. In that sense, I think that lmno is right, it’s one of those things that, while you may not enjoy it, it’s not a bad idea to at least have a knowledge of the basics. You just never know.

My husband and son went camping with the Boy Scouts once up in North Carolina at Sugar Moutain — in January. My husband, who is definitely not a natural camper, still shudders when he remembers waking up Saturday morning and finding the tent sagging under 4 inches of snowfall during the night. Nice for skiing — a bit of a bear to dig out of. He was very grateful for his air mattress, but he swears he has never been so cold.

YUKI

October 27th, 2009
11:23 am

It sounds like you did ok, but it was only for one night. It doesn’t sound like you would be too thrilled for long term, bare bones type of camping. To each her own, if you don’t really enjoy camping then why should you force yourself to go? If I were lost out in the wilderness, I’m pretty sure I’d be S.O.L.!

madmommy

October 27th, 2009
11:26 am

I was raised on camping and have always loved it. After being in ROTC for four years and watching and learning all the survial skills that comes with that, I’m sure I could survive just about anything with just a few simple tools. I do feel that most kids and adults need to learn how to camp. Put all the noise makers away, haul your load and get moving. I bet you can surprise yourself and your kids in the process.

Taking that into consideration, I don’t think the honey could ever go for that, but I’m sure when the time comes to camp for scouting, you could find him out there, for at least one night.

JG: I too am a Hotel Snob and staying in a place where the doors are facing outside is a “smaller hotel.” Stayed at one not to long ago for an event and it was quiet the event, but I survived.

Holiday Inn

October 27th, 2009
11:27 am

Yuki that mattress is still waiting for you at Holiday Inn

DB

October 27th, 2009
11:35 am

Another quick story: Again, my husband and son, but we were at Yosemite. My daughter and I went horseback riding, and the guys decided to go on a 7-mile hike on a trail they hadn’t done before. Unfortunately, it was still snowed-in in early July, and after almost going the entire length, they were unable to make it through two miles short of the other end of the trail, where I was waiting for them — for four hours, into the evening. No cell phone coverage. After several increasingly concerned phone calls to the ranger station, the ranger asked their age and asked if they were in good health. I allowed as how they were, and he asked if they had any Scout experience. Yep, he’s an Eagle. The ranger relaxed and then said, “Oh, ok, then, they’ll be fine. They might be a little uncomfortable during the evening, but if they’re still lost at daylight, we’ll send a ranger out for ‘em.” Basically, it was too dark to do any good to search for them. I was more than a little concerned, and after a few calls back and forth to the ranger station, we located them – they had sensibly circled back around, arrived at the hotel on the south side of the park and called the ranger station to check in later that evening, after being on the trail for almost 9 hours. That was a long night!

YUKI

October 27th, 2009
11:47 am

Holiday Inn…I thought it was Mariott?? Please make up your mind or I will not love you long time.

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

October 27th, 2009
11:49 am

so I hate to ask but how do you handle the pooping and peeing if there are no bathrooms around?????????

YUKI

October 27th, 2009
11:55 am

You pop a squat and hope for the best!

Jesse's Girl

October 27th, 2009
12:06 pm

Hell to the no!

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

October 27th, 2009
12:07 pm

Do you dig a ditch and bury it at least????????

mom3boys

October 27th, 2009
12:08 pm

Not only do you need an air mattress, you need one of the self-inflating queen sized ones. They use regular sheets…it’s heavenly. I don’t mind the “car camping” like you did; but, I hate backpacking!! Why schlepp everything into the woods?? I don’t get it. Additionally, some of us don’t have the right plumbing for it to be fun…it’s just nasty!!

Sarah Dougherty

October 27th, 2009
12:09 pm

Sounds great about Stone Mountain camping. We went earlier in the summer and yes we felt like it was a camping city. I could not believe how big that campground was!

I would ONLY camp at Cumberland Island if you are well adjusted to camping and very experienced. It is not an easy camping trip for a novice.

It IS an awesome camping experience at Cumberland, but you have to be overprepared to be completely in wilderness (as unbelievably gorgeous a wilderness it is) for the time you are there. You will not want to drink the water (smells and tastes like mossy seashells) so everything you need must be packed in and packed out. Including all your water. There is not even a coke machine on Cumberland so there are no convienences at all. They do sell cokes and ice on the ferry and that is it.

Just my experience. I would recommend Cumberland to everyone, but I would only recommend camping to those who understand true wilderness camping. As beautiful as Cumberland Island is, it is not for the faint heart.

Hunter of MILF

October 27th, 2009
12:10 pm

@YUKI

How you doin?

JJ

October 27th, 2009
12:21 pm

Teresa, find a fallen tree, that has a little ground clearance, wipe it off, and sit on it to poo. You may want to dig a little hole, but at least cover it up.

As for peeing, well I have THE strongest thigh muscles, and I can squat with the best of them. You have to be very careful you don’t pee on your pants…..

My dad used to take us fishing up in the Rockies, and there weren’t any bathrooms, so I had to learn to go in the outdoors. This is where guys have it very easy…….

I did get busted by a man and his son once. I was squatting and they came walking down the trail. I thought I was hidden enough, but the son saw me. I thought, oh well, everyone has to pee and it’s a natural thing………

YUKI

October 27th, 2009
12:22 pm

YAY!!! I finally got one :)

Jesse's Girl

October 27th, 2009
12:27 pm

OMG…..JJ…I now know entirely too much about you. “squat with the best of them”!!!! No thank you. I am a huge country girl….but I cannot abide with another camping experience.

HB

October 27th, 2009
12:27 pm

Glad you had fun, Theresa, but I don’t think you’re up for Cumberland (and I will readily admit that I’m not up for it either). If it starts raining, you can’t drive home — have to wait for the next ferry. Plus they have real critters down there. If seeing wild horses, huge spiders, and an alligator or two during the day is going to freak you out about staying in a tent that night, you may want to try somewhere else. Cumberland is a great place, though, so why not go down for a daytrip, hike around, come back on the afternoon ferry, and stay at a campground on the mainland? That way if it gets too cold or wet or whatever, you can get in the car and find a motel room somewhere along 95. Then after a bit more experience, you can try staying overnight on the island.

Hunter of MILF

October 27th, 2009
12:28 pm

Yeah now send me email….nobody ever does that….I get no lovin.

catlady

October 27th, 2009
12:30 pm

So, including taking Rose and leaving early to walk the dog, how long were you actually there?

Do some warm ups before anything like Cumberland. Stay the whole time. No trips out. You might even ask the scoutmaster what he/she recommends for a gradual work-up to real camping.

As for me, personally, if God meant me to sleep on the ground He would not have given me a pillow-top mattress.

My daughter went camping Saturday night in Murphy NC in below 30 degree weather. It was very cold but she had a good time. Thank God my ex husband taught them to love camping! Their lives would be poorer without it.

Teresa, see my comment in your Friday blog about camping on St. Geo Island, FL.

Holiday Inn

October 27th, 2009
12:39 pm

Hunter you may meet Yuki in one of my room. She said she love you long time.

"so I hate to ask but how do you handle the pooping and peeing if there are no bathrooms around"

October 27th, 2009
12:45 pm

“Do you dig a ditch and bury it at least????????” – LOL

Again, Theresa, if you have to ask there is no way you should even think about trying to camp at Cumberland Island –

And, I, like YUKI, am a hotel snob, only my idea of roughing it is staying at a Marriott – I am used to the Four Seasons!!!!

JJCB

October 27th, 2009
12:56 pm

Theresa….one thing about camping in cold weather…make sure that when you are ready to put your pj’s on, you use entirely “fresh” clothes….even down to the socks and undies. It will keep you a WHOLE lot warmer because even in the cold, we tend to sweat a little bit in our clothes, which can lead to hypothermia, even with our warm sleeping bags. I am just suggesting this for future ventures. Fall and Spring camping are my favorites but the nights can be downright cold in certain areas. Besides, this isn’t the most convenient for backpacking anyways.

Glad that you had a great time.

deidre_NC

October 27th, 2009
12:57 pm

catlady…where in murphy did they camp…i work in murphy!…i live almost an hour from there way up in a mountain community…but im in murphy 5 days a week at least…theresa there is a great campground in hayesville, nc….its called jackrabbit campground….had toilet facilities etc…tent sites and rv sites..ive never camped there as im more of a rough it in the woods camper..but its a nice campground–on lake chatuge…also there is rainbow springs campground…it has all the facilities aslo but it is laid out to seem more of a wilderness experience..altho it really isnt..its close to franklin, nc…western carolina is a beautiful place to camp–and the 2 i mentioned are ones you could stand….there is fires creek..it is rustic..but it does have an outhouse..just no showers..only a very cold creek lol…

so how did walsh enjoy the trip?

Becky

October 27th, 2009
12:59 pm

It doesn’t have to be a five star hotel for me to stay in, I’m happy staying in a rustic cabin, but NO tents for me..I enjoy hiking anywhere, but I’m not into sleeping with animals..

JJ, h*ll no I’m not going to catch a fish, clean it and cook it..If my husband wants to do the catching and cleaning, I’ll be happy to cook it..If left up to me, I can find the nearest Kroger..The only kind of fishing that I want to do is deep sea fishing..The little ones enjoy the mtns. and all of the outdoor type things and I will do all of that with them..They haven’t shown any interest in actual camping though..

Theresa, glad that you had a good time..

Good God

October 27th, 2009
12:59 pm

It’s the mickey mouse club! Let’s all hold hands and sing a campire song! But Yuki and Jesses Girl will have to be dialed in from their room at the holiday inn!

deidre_NC

October 27th, 2009
1:00 pm

just for the record..im a marriot kind of hotel person..at the least..id rather camp deep in the woods than stay at a crappy motel..ugh!!! i am definately a hotel snob….but i love to camp where no man has gone!! lol

Patrick

October 27th, 2009
1:00 pm

For camping warm-ups, try camping in the backyard. I know it’s not the same as camping out in the wilderness, where you’re far away from modern conveniences, like electricity, but at least you can get some practice in as to what to carry and not carry, how to set up camp, among other things.

There’s a big difference, as you have learned, between sleeping on the floor in a bedroom, to sleeping on the ground outdoors. Even if there’s a sheet of plastic between you and the ground, it’s a lot different. You never know what might crawl out of the ground and into your sleeping bag. Also, while the ground may look solid and clear, a rock or stick may pop up out of nowhere, or one grain of sand may feel like a $#@%ing railroad spike jabbing you in the back. By camping out in the backyard, you’ll know what to do, and more importantly, what not to do, when you go to the Bigs on Cumberland Island or anywhere else.

As for flashlights, you can buy flashlights that have lens filters for night vision (red), that fit easily over the lens. Another thing you can do is take red cellophane (saran wrap) and tape or secure it over the flashlight lens with a rubber band. Also, if you do shine it on someone, you want to do it indirectly, like off to the side, like how police officers do it when they pull someone over at night.

JATL

October 27th, 2009
1:02 pm

Ditto here -Seriously Theresa, at least give it a thought. What do you think people did before toilets? What do tribal societies do in 3rd world nations today? YES -you dig a latrine and bury it!!!!! (or a simple little hole will do). As far as pee goes -have you never copped a squat somewhere? Really? IT doesn’t matter where you pee as long as it’s not on or in the tent! Take a big ziploc and put used wipes and TP in it after you go. You simply must do some more camping and camping on non SP land where you have no amenities before doing Cumberland.

deidre_NC

October 27th, 2009
1:03 pm

and yes…you dig a hole to leave your ’stuff’ behind lol…

Becky

October 27th, 2009
1:05 pm

deidre_NC, we took our little ones to Jackrabbit Beach summer before last and they still ask to go there every summer..We just happened upon it and stopped..The water (where we were) was quiet choppy, but all in all it was a nice place..

JJ

October 27th, 2009
1:05 pm

Jessie’s girl – I grew up with Boys…….’nuff said….I had to keep up, or it was sit at home and play dolls..NO THANK YOU!!!!! I’m definately not a girly girl……I’m feminine, but not girly girl……

And my mom had to work every other weekend, so my dad would take me and my brother hiking, fishing etc. Hell, he wouldn’t let me get my driver’s license until he saw that I could change a flat tire by myself. He tried to teach me how to change the oil, but I WILL NOT get under a car……that’s about my one and only phobia, getting underneath a vehicle……not gonna happen….