As many of you saw on Instagram, Colton and I went camping in Beaver’s Bend (Broken Bow, Oklahoma) after Thanksgiving with our brother and sister-in-law. I have been cabin camping a few times in my life, and even a pop-up camper once before. This trip was my first time tent camping, and I learned a lot in the process. Here are some tips for you and what to expect for your first time tent camping.
You will get dirty
I am still pulling dirt out of my hair after the world’s longest shower Sunday night. Most of the trip, my hands were covered in dirt or charcoal, no matter how many times I sanitized. When you are out in nature, you will get dirty and learn to eat with dirt on your fingers and in your hair.
You will pee in the woods
You may think I am kidding, but it is true. When the nearest toilet is a long walk from your campsite, you learn to make do, especially in the middle of the night. It’s funny how much I took running water for granted until this trip.
You will get cold
…or hot. It depends on the season. When you are tent camping with no electricity, you don’t have the luxury of controlling your temperature. I would rather be cold than hot, but at night, it got done to the 30s. Be sure you bring comfortable, warm clothes to sleep in. I slept in a base layer shirt, light sweatshirt, fleece leggings, leg warmers, and fuzzy socks both nights. Bring a ton of warm clothes and blankets for hanging out by the fire at night too.
If you are camping in the summer, the opposite will apply. Be sure to bring light clothes and hope it cools down at night. Honestly, sweating all night sounds ten times more miserable than shivering.
You will need the necessities
What you think are necessities probably aren’t. Don’t forget your tent, sleeping bag, lantern, matches and cooking utensils. A good sleeping bag is key to keeping you warm and giving you a great night’s sleep.
Another necessity to think about is food. You will want to bring something that can be cooked easily, doesn’t require a lot of prep, and can be eaten anywhere. We had pancakes and sausage for breakfast, burgers and hot dogs for lunch, and chicken fajitas for dinner. According to Colton, the fajitas were a touch of “glamping,” but we grilled them on our Coleman Propane Stove and they were great. I needed to get veggies in at some point during the weekend.
You will walk a lot
My second favorite (first being the massive amount of smores making) part of the camping experience is hiking. We took a couple of different trails during the time we were there. Despite it being around 50 degrees outside, the hike heated us up quickly.
Not only are you walking to hike, but to take the trash out at night, go to the restroom, take a shower, and more. Nothing is conveniently located, but it’s alright, because you don’t have anything better to do, the weather is nice, and the sights are pretty.
You will (probably) not have cell service
I am not sure why T-Mobile thinks that Oklahoma is too far away for service, but it does. Colton and I did not have cell phone service the entire trip. About 15 minutes of our first hike, we randomly got service long enough to post a photo and find out that our dog broke the fence and someone had her. I am thankful for that brief service time, because we were able to call someone to pick her up.
Since you may not have service, be sure to plan accordingly. It may be a good idea to bring walkie-talkies or have a plan in case you get separated from your group.
You will get creative
One of the fun things you will discover is that you will find ways to get things done. We made coffee on the grill, heated water for hot chocolate over the fire, made headlamps with hats and iPhone flashlights, washed dishes with a towel and a gallon of water, and found things to entertain us besides TV and movies.
We brought spike ball and played for hours. During our campfire, we listened to ghost stories and freaked each other out. The four of us spent several hours by the lake just relaxing in hammocks and building a fire.
You will experience something beautiful
There is something magical about being disconnected from your phone and being present in the moment. Hopefully, you will find the beauty in the quiet moments and focus on the now.
During the hike, I looked across at the beautiful, colorful leaves on all of the trees and just stared, taking in everything. Fall is my favorite season, but I rarely get to see it in person in Dallas.
I loved gathering around the fire every night, instead of the television. We ate dinners together huddled around the fire. Everyone pitched in together, and it was an incredible bonding experience.
Despite being cold, not being able to shower every day, and peeing outside, there was so much more to take in and be thankful for. We were able to appreciate and live in each moment.
What tips do you have for first time tent camping? Leave me a comment below!