Camping: Tips, tricks, and must-haves

Set-up collage Yesterday I answered some FAQs about our annual camping trip.  Today I’m giving you a tour of our site and how we like to keep things organized and safe plus a few tips and tricks.  Remember, I can’t take credit for much (if any) of the campsite organization and set-up.  My MIL and FIL (Mimi and Poppy or M&P) handle it all.  They’re expert campers as they’ve been doing this for a very long time.

Campsite Set-Up

Three white pop-ups


Mimi and Poppy have had other kinds/colors over the years, but the white has proved to retain less heat.  And it’s super easy to spot from far away.

Three tents


Here’s a tour of our tent.  It’s the Eureka Copper Canyon 8.  It sleeps 8, has removable walls, a center height of 7′, and boasts 130 square feet inside.  Because shoes are not allowed in our tent, there are chairs outside for adults and kids to sit and remove their shoes.  You can see the brown tarp making our “porch area”, a welcome mat to remove any dirt, and a box full of all our shoes.


We typically use the movable wall for nap time so we can get in and out of the tent without disturbing Brady.  We sleep on an air mattress, there is a box for a nightstand, and a place to hang a toiletry bag and a mirror.


In the corner you are looking at a set of tent shelves next to a suitcase.  Those shelves hold so much!  We use them to stow most of our toiletries and our camera and phones.  They are made of tent material and collapse into a very small package.  There’s also a 5×7′ area rug at the entrance.  This helps to trap any dirt from feet before it get’s to the beds or the dressing areas.


This is the “kids suite”.  They both sleep on twin sized air mattresses in sleeping bags with large blankets and all their lovies.  Brady uses one with bumpers so he doesn’t fall out.  You can see the Ikea sorter hanging, a suitcase with back-up clothes, and a pop up laundry hamper.  The hamper was a new addition this year.  I’m never going back!  That thing is coming on every vacation from here on out!  It stands on it’s own and folds down flat!  So much easier than a bag.  It’s from Target and it’s only $6.99.


We can move that wall around really easily.  Brady goes to bed at night before Lyla, se we use it to create his own little room.  It can be moved during the day to be used as a changing area.

Several tarps


These tarps are the best!  They are brown so they blend in so nicely to their surrounds.  Basically there is a tarp under each tent that extends to it’s front porch area.  The tarps are under the kitchen, the dining area, and the play area.  You almost never have to walk on actual dirt.

Summer 2010 051

They tarps do require quite a bit of sweeping each day, but it’s a chore anyone can do.

Kitchen set-up


Mimi has made this kitchen is so easy to use!  It’s two 6′ tables in an “L” shape.  The drinking water is in the large blue jug, an auxiliary jug is under the table, next to that is the dish washing and drying station.  On the other table you will find cooking utensils, silverware, spices, and cutting boards.  Underneath both tables are additional paper towels, soap, tupperware, and pots and pans.  At the end of the table is a flat top and burner and the auxiliary burner.  On top of the burner is the coffee pot and the jug used to heat water for washing dishes, kids baths, and foot baths.  See, everything you need.


On occasion, M&P will put up an additional tarp to be used as a wall in the event of too much wind or annoying neighbors.  Typically the laundry line helps to conceal annoying neighbors.  But sometimes, you just need a wall.

Pantry/prep area/bar

DSC_3763Every campsite comes with a Bear Box.  A brown, small, low metal box where you can stash your food to keep it safe from bears.  Over the year M&P have learned that the box is difficult to organize and a pain in the back because it’s so low.  Plus, you can’t really store very much stuff in one anyway.  So they decided to buy a trailer, put in some flooring, add a counter top, lighting, some shelves, and a few tables.  It’s genius and makes life easier.  I cannot imagine getting a cooler in and out of a bear box.

Here’s the pantry area in the trailer.  It’s about 15′ long and 8′ tall, plenty of space.  Each box is labeled with exactly what’s in it so anybody can get what they need without asking too many questions.


The prep area in on a table in the back of the trailer.  You can sit here and prep dinner without flies bugging you or just make a sandwich for lunch.  There’s a lantern for light and a fan for a breeze.


On the opposite end of the trailer you will find the bar.  It has a small cooler with “sanitary ice” for drinks, cups, cut citrus for garnish, alcohol, some mixers, and a blender that is powered by a generator.


In between the bar and the prep area are two extra large coolers.  One has all the drinks and the other all the perishables.  Ice is purchased almost everyday.  Ms. Lou is drinking her virgin cocktail creation she and Poppy made together.



  1. These fantastic yellow squares for balancing wobbly tables.
  2. Tons of magazines for reading…or “just looking at pictures” like my husband says.
  3. Children-sized table and chairs over an area rug.  Perfect for dining and coloring.
  4. Area rugs for laying around and not getting too dirty.
  5. TONS of these fly traps.  They smell like rotting fish if you’re down wind.  Put them on the perimeter of camp and you’ll have less flies and no smells.  Each year someone always asks us about them.  They really help!
  6. Tons of games for adults and kids.
  7. A great stereo and great tunes for dance parties.
  8. A gate for the fire pit.  It’s a large dog enclosure.
  9. The gate started as an oversized “play pen” when my daughter was little.  (8mo)

Thanks so much to M&P for making each year a wonderful time full of modern conveniences all while roughing it in one of the most beautiful places on earth!  I feel so lucky to be able to have a five star “glamping” experience every year.  It’s time we cherish and we cannot thank you enough for all the memories made and the memories yet to be made.



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