Author Topic: Tent Camping?  (Read 5433 times)

Mom to 5

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Tent Camping?
« on: February 27, 2014, 10:43:45 AM »
When you go tent camping, is it at a place where there are other tents right beside yours?

I have never done this, but am considering if it would be appealing for my family to do for spring break. The only campgrounds I have seem have very little distance between one tent space and the next. If that is the case, I'm not clear on why people do this.

Is there another option? One with more seclusion?

I may go to day trips/hikes if there isn't a different way to feasibly tent camp.

jscott2135

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Re: Tent Camping?
« Reply #1 on: February 27, 2014, 10:50:54 AM »
Mom to 5 I think its ease of use for some folks.  To me, growing up in the NW, the entire idea of tent camping was to get the heck away from people ya know?!  But spending time in Ohio I realized that others like the community feel, convenience of toilets/showers possibly near by at the camp ground etc.  This is a foreign concept to me and not in the least appealing, but hey to each his own.  I'm sure you can find more remote places, even some where you have to pack your stuff in.  Depends on the area you live in an d how far you are willing to travel to get what you want :)  What state are you wanting to do this in?

MomCents

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Re: Tent Camping?
« Reply #2 on: February 27, 2014, 11:17:17 AM »
Hi Mom to 5.  My hubby, kids and I tent camp often.  Main reason is to save $ on hotels, plus it is fun to be outside more often than inside vs. staying at a hotel.  My kids love camping - I think most kids do (as long as you bring smores to cook!).  Some things to consider:  State Park and Federal campgrounds (National Parks, National Forests, etc.) are often reliably nice, at least in my experience in the western US.  Usually there is some decent space between sites, each site has a picnic table, the bathrooms are often fairly close, and sometimes there are even showers.  Also often they are close to good hiking trails or scenic places.  Privately run campgrounds can sometimes be the ones where all of the tents are crowded into a really tight space and it seems more busy and "urban".  They are hit and miss, but we've had fun at those places, too.  Keep in mind that if you have kids, they often really like the more crowded campgrounds.  Lots of new friends to meet and play with!  Also, the easier to drive to a campground the more crowded it will be.  So if you're looking for seclusion, go for the out of the way ones.  On National Forest land you can often camp wherever you'd like for up to 14 days, but there will be no amenities.  It's called "dispersed camping".  Check out your local Forest Service office for details.   One way we often decide where to camp is to decide on hikes or a scenic area that we want to visit, then we research campgrounds near there.  Also you can check out http://www.recreation.gov to find and reserve campsites.  Best of luck!

medeforest

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Re: Tent Camping?
« Reply #3 on: February 27, 2014, 11:24:25 AM »
As a child living in Michigan, our family took trips across the country to visit Maine, Texas, and California.  We did the tent camping and I loved it.  I didn't notice the neighbors because I was having so much fun playing with clay and baking it in the fire pit, or chasing fire flies, or any number of things involving adventure.

As an adult, I have done high altitude (pack it in, pack it ALL out) camping and car camping.  I love them both, but with children, the car camping is superior because the hot showers are wonderful and the flush toilets are divine. 

nereo

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Re: Tent Camping?
« Reply #4 on: February 27, 2014, 11:26:32 AM »
hi there

The term "Camping" means a lot of different things to different people.
What you describe is typical camp-site camping.  If you can drive right up to your camp site it's called "Car camping".  Camp-site owners like it because they can easily maintain dozens of campsites, and it doesn't require a huge area.  It's a good way to step into camping if you are a novice, because there's often communal bathrooms, showers, and a source of water.

If you want something more remote, try looking at nearby state parks, national forests, and conservation areas.  Many offer camping, and often you can find places to camp that are away from other campers.  (when you go also matters - during the summer on a weekend it's hard to ever "get away" without hiking for miles).  These sites frequently involve a short hike and you have to know the rules (you may be required to camp x meters from the trail and have register at a ranger station in case you go missing).

then there is true "backcountry" camping.  This typically done in larger state and national parks.  It reqires hiking several miles from the trail head and often you can find yourself miles from the nearest person or lightswitch.

Based on what you want to do, I'd suggest going to the local library and checking out any hiking and backpacking books for your area.  There will definitely be some.  They'll tell you when camping is allowed, what it costs, how many people there are likely to be around you, and the difficulty of surrounding hikes.

Good luck and have fun!
N

Eric

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Re: Tent Camping?
« Reply #5 on: February 27, 2014, 12:26:54 PM »
On National Forest land you can often camp wherever you'd like for up to 14 days, but there will be no amenities.  It's called "dispersed camping". 

Not all dispersed camping is without amenities.  There is dispersed camping with pit toilets, picnic tables, fire rings, and the like.  One of my favorite campgrounds in the UP of Michigan has exactly one site.  That's it.  And it's on a secluded lake.  No, I won't tell you where it is. ;)

But in general, at a normal state park or similar, it can be a little bit of a crapshoot as to whether your site will be right next to someone else's.  And even if it is, if there's underbrush, it feels a lot more secluded than if it's just wide open.  There are almost always some sites that are some distance from the others.  Like any site where you have to walk 100 yards from where you parked your car is a good bet.  I'd call the actual parks and talk with a Ranger about it.  Most maps are generally useless for determining this sort of thing.


galliver

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Re: Tent Camping?
« Reply #6 on: February 27, 2014, 12:33:34 PM »
My family camped my entire childhood on basically every vacation/trip we ever took. You do not have to be packed in like sardines, but unless you skip ahead to backpacking, you probably won't have 2 acres ;)  I disagree with nereo; I think if you haven't been tent camping before you should go car camping first. Probably at a place with running water. Then work your way up in badassity.

There are nice campgrounds, but there's no rhyme or reason to which ones; nor have I ever been in Arkansas to make recommendations. By nice I mean you have trees or rocks or bushes, whatever is native, screening you from the next site. They may be geographically close, but you have some isolation. I've seen these in state parks, national parks, state/national forests, and private camps (not KOA). The amenities varied as well. Most had water spigots (a few did not). Some had running water in bathrooms (usually cold, no soap), and flush toilets. A select few had showers. Electricity is generally only available at RV sites, which are *always* side by side and crowded. Avoid RV sites. Charge your phone in the car or bathroom.

We have also stayed in some of the barren, side-by-side, packed like sardines  camps, typically when there weren't other options. While we weren't given to much loitering around camp, we did it even less in those places. The campsite was a place to make food, eat it, and go to sleep. In nicer places we would have a relaxing evening by the campfire. I'm just saying it's tolerable. There's just no fun in the 'camping' aspect of it, you focus on the hikes, have picnics, chill by water source (lakes, creeks, rivers) if they're available.

Anyway, as far as planning your trip: look up pictures and maps of the campgrounds, you can usually figure out which ones are packed and which ones are roomier and better laid out. Have fun!

MayDay

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Re: Tent Camping?
« Reply #7 on: February 27, 2014, 01:10:21 PM »
A lot of state parks have hike in, cart in, or similarly named semi secluded campsites that are less than a mile hike. Much more secluded than car camping, but still access to a water pump and drop toilet. That's what we usually do.

Jamesqf

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Re: Tent Camping?
« Reply #8 on: February 27, 2014, 01:11:26 PM »
I disagree with nereo; I think if you haven't been tent camping before you should go car camping first.

I'll go a bit further, and suggest first doing a couple of dry runs in your own back yard.  (Especially since you have kids.) Load everything into your car, just as if you were going somewhere, then a few hours later take it out, set up camp, and notice what you forgot to bring.

When you can all spend a comfortable night and have breakfast without running into the house for anything, then you're ready to go somewhere.

nereo

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Re: Tent Camping?
« Reply #9 on: February 27, 2014, 01:22:54 PM »
  I disagree with nereo; I think if you haven't been tent camping before you should go car camping first. Probably at a place with running water. Then work your way up in badassity.


well... I agree with you in that I disagree with your incorrect interpretation of what i said earlier.  Or something like that.  I said I thought  car camping WAS a good first step ("If you can drive right up to your camp site it's called "Car camping".  ....  It's a good way to step into camping if you are a novice, because there's often communal bathrooms, showers, and a source of water.) 
So yes, car camping is a good way to start.  Everyone got it?  No?  oh well...

Michread

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Re: Tent Camping?
« Reply #10 on: February 27, 2014, 01:27:03 PM »
Here in the northeast the state campgrounds have more space/site.  The BEST campsites are taken 6 months ahead (that's the earliest you can reserve).  We used reserveamerica.com 

I suggest starting with somewhere close to home (about 30-60 min away); for a long weekend.   Yes, make sure they have flush toilets and showers available at the campground.

medeforest

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Re: Tent Camping?
« Reply #11 on: February 27, 2014, 01:29:17 PM »
I disagree with nereo; I think if you haven't been tent camping before you should go car camping first.

I'll go a bit further, and suggest first doing a couple of dry runs in your own back yard.  (Especially since you have kids.) Load everything into your car, just as if you were going somewhere, then a few hours later take it out, set up camp, and notice what you forgot to bring.

When you can all spend a comfortable night and have breakfast without running into the house for anything, then you're ready to go somewhere.

Great idea.  Thinking like a kid, this would be a blast!  Making memories. 

galliver

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Re: Tent Camping?
« Reply #12 on: February 27, 2014, 01:31:16 PM »
  I disagree with nereo; I think if you haven't been tent camping before you should go car camping first. Probably at a place with running water. Then work your way up in badassity.


well... I agree with you in that I disagree with your incorrect interpretation of what i said earlier.  Or something like that.  I said I thought  car camping WAS a good first step ("If you can drive right up to your camp site it's called "Car camping".  ....  It's a good way to step into camping if you are a novice, because there's often communal bathrooms, showers, and a source of water.) 
So yes, car camping is a good way to start.  Everyone got it?  No?  oh well...

You recommended books on 'hiking and backpacking' at the end. That's where I was coming from.

Here in the northeast the state campgrounds have more space/site.  The BEST campsites are taken 6 months ahead (that's the earliest you can reserve).  We used reserveamerica.com 

I suggest starting with somewhere close to home (about 30-60 min away); for a long weekend.   Yes, make sure they have flush toilets and showers available at the campground.
You don't need showers for just a long weekend! What luxury! :)

[edited for formatting]
« Last Edit: February 27, 2014, 02:32:36 PM by galliver »

Thegoblinchief

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Re: Tent Camping?
« Reply #13 on: February 27, 2014, 02:27:06 PM »
I disagree with nereo; I think if you haven't been tent camping before you should go car camping first.

I'll go a bit further, and suggest first doing a couple of dry runs in your own back yard.  (Especially since you have kids.) Load everything into your car, just as if you were going somewhere, then a few hours later take it out, set up camp, and notice what you forgot to bring.

When you can all spend a comfortable night and have breakfast without running into the house for anything, then you're ready to go somewhere.

This is exactly what we're planning on doing this year. Will feel a little dumb, since we're a corner lot with no fence or anything, so clearly visible from the street. We MAY instead choose to do it in my sister's backyard, since we'd be borrowing their gear at first anyways. They're still in city, but they have ~2/3 acre on a cul de sac.

Rural

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Re: Tent Camping?
« Reply #14 on: February 27, 2014, 06:48:03 PM »
I'll second the state and federal parks, but conservation areas, wildlife management areas, and land trusts are more likely to be truly wild/ isolated. Be aware you'll be packing in water in addition to whatever else, and you'll need to bearproof. But some of the really secluded places are still accessible by car, or Jeep at any rate.

darkadams00

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Re: Tent Camping?
« Reply #15 on: February 27, 2014, 07:28:02 PM »
I grew up car camping on vacations, but my folks' campsite looked more like a Hilton: Duck Dynasty Edition. We pulled a full trailer behind a station wagon, had cots in the canvas tent, sometimes an electric fan (Florida/July), and always had "country campin' breakfasts." But I flipped a switch when I got older. When my first son was 15 months old, my wife and I spent a week canoeing/remote camping on a river. We took both of our sons on the Appalachian Trail for days before they were 10. However, my worst incident ever was when my son had an accident in SC at a "car camping" campground, just playing in a park.

The biggest lesson I have learned from that experience as well as a deep-woods incident with a group of kids is that safety is the most important issue. Only take kids to places you are certain you can handle them and yourself, even in an emergency. If you are remote, you are not only responsible for one that might get suddenly ill or injured. You are responsible for the other child(ren) as well. The rule of thumb I have followed with my kids and their friends--always have at least one other responsible adult with you if you have more than one child in a remote area. The second or third child might not be able to keep up if I have to get back to the trail head quickly. Of course, if car camping 50 feet from the car, this not an issue that I would worry about.

With that said, everything else will be fine if you do a bit of reading on the Internet. There are numerous "Packing Lists for Car Camping/Day Tripping/Long-Distance Hiking" websites via Google. A leaky tent, pesky mosquitoes, and burnt dinner are just stepping stones along the way. Unless your kids are high maintenance, they will only be as anxious as you are if you forget something or get lost for an hour in the woods. (And, yes, I've forgotten things, burnt dinner, gotten lost, and treated a sick kid with the rest of the family watching).

--And camping in a local park 100 feet from the next tent is a really good place to start with kids. They don't mind the neighbors as much as you do, most likely, and the learning experience is easier to manage locally rather than on a trip several hours away in an unfamiliar place. You can wander farther away as you learn and develop a bit of a routine.