We had a really fun time this weekend camping, so I figured I’d writeup a review of where we went and some tips/tricks you might be interested in! Got more camping tips? Post ’em in the comments!
For this trip, we had a big group – 17 people including 5 kids from 3 to 14. For budget reasons, as well as for privacy with this size group, we rented a ‘pioneer’ campsite at FD Roosevelt State park, about 1 1/2 hrs from Atlanta. This was an incredibly budget friendly option, as the entire campsite, with plenty of room for all of us, cost only $30 total! They also have regular campsites, which would have been a little less ‘roughing it’. The state park has hiking, a lake, and a pool, and is located near a good number of family friendly attractions, including Calloway Gardens, FDR’s ‘Little Whitehouse’, horseback riding, an Animal Safari, and more.
The Pioneer campsite was great for our large group. We had 5 tents, a wooden shelter, plenty of room, and nobody else around. Drive up, no hiking into the woods, but you still felt like your were in the middle of nowhere. Disadvantages were that there was running water up the hill, but no shower/bathroom facilities or electricity nearby. Yes, my friends, we had an outhouse. But really, except for when we figured out a car electricity adapter won’t run a coffee pot (oh no, should have brought the french press!), the lack of amenities was doable for a short weekend trip. As I mentioned, they also have regular ‘car camping’ campsites that have more modern amenities, if you’re not into roughing it QUITE so much.
1 – Make a list, check it twice. We figured out food ahead of time (hamburgers friday night, low country boil Sat night) and split up needed supplies among everyone, sharing the list using Google Docs so it could all be done over email. That way we didn’t end up with 7 rolls of aluminum foil but no paper towels.
2 – Google before hand and find out what’s close by (where’s the grocery store, any attractions)– and what time they close! –in case you have to make a run for more supplies.
3 – Luminaries – I brought cheap paper bags, and a bag of votive and tea light candles. The kids enjoyed putting dirt in the bags, and they made simple, easy to transport lighting for once it got dark. They don’t put out a lot of light, but at least you can line the way from the campfire to the tents or to the bathroom.
4 – Bring twice as much wood as you think you’ll need. And identify the closest gas station that sells wood in case you need it. Ditto ice.
5 – Toys for kids – Dumptrucks, Tonka construction equipment and sand pails / shovels for collecting dirt, rocks, sticks, whatever, were very popular items. There was also a playground nearby (driving).
6 – Kiddie potty. I brought The Boy’s little potty from his potty training days, even though we didn’t have anyone still potty training in the group. The two 3 yr olds and the 5 year old all used it. I brought Clorox wipes to ensure it stayed clean. It’s also great to have available in the car on the trip just in case you have to pull over to the side of the road for a potty emergency.
7 – If you do go for the no real facilities option like we did, one fabulous idea was a handled little basket stocked with baby wipes, toilet paper, a flashlight, and hand sanitizer. That way you just picked up the basket and had everything needed for trips to the primitive loo.
8 – An oldie but goodie: Juice boxes and bottled water can be pre frozen, and serve to keep things cold in the cooler, but will thaw by the time you need them. We packed them up with the lunch meats and bagel spreads and that worked perfectly.
9 – Useful stuff: Baby Wipes! A propane burner or stove (we had a big pot and did a low country boil, and heated water much quicker than the campfire for coffee and such. Bottled Water (including several large jugs for cooking, in case the ‘local’ water didn’t look too good — it didn’t.)
I’d add more if I think of it! If you’ve got good tips, post them!…