Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Family Camping Packing Checklist *FREE DOWNLOAD*

We've put together a fantastic checklist of everything you'll need when camping with your family (and just by yourself, if that's a thing for you). Specific to tent camping, you can easily adapt this to RV camping or backpacking, and it includes space for you to add your own items, as well! It was written by combining my experience leading wilderness backpacking trips, camping across the US on road trips, and having three young children of my own now.

Best of all...it's FREE!

Download the nice printable version from DropBox by clicking here

Family Tent Camping Equipment Checklist
Camp Setup
 Medical First Aid Kit
 Herbal First Aid Kit (including essential oils, herbs, and homeopathy)
 2-3 large tarps
 2 long, thin ropes (clothesline type)
 Clothespins
 Tent, fly, footprint
 Extra tent stakes
 Shammy (for wet tent)
 Hand floor brush and dustpan (small, for sweeping tent floor)
 Tent light
 Battery operated lantern
 Extra batteries
 Bear spray
 Dishwashing buckets- 2
 Biodegradable dish soap
 Water
 Food
 Cooking dishes
 Eating dishes, cups, and utensils (one mess kit per person)
 Camp stove
 Grill for fire
 Foil
 Ziploc bags
 Paper towels
 Day packs
 Playing cards, small games
 Guitar, instruments
 Duct Tape
 Pillows (because you’re car camping so you can!)
 Camping chairs (1 pp) (optional)
 Fold up table (optional, depending on campsite)
 Lightweight hammock (optional)
 Bear containers or the like (optional for car camping)

Survival Kit
 Compass
 Maps of area
 Flashlight (with extra batteries and bulb)
 Paper and pencil
 Extra waterproof matches
 All weather fire starter
 Whistle*
 Strong nylon cord
 Toilet paper
 Vaseline
 Salt Tablets
 Copper Wire
 Water purifier tablets
 Solar cell phone charger
 Emergency radio

Pocket necessities
 Leatherman
 Windproof/waterproof matches
 Compass
 Watch
 Refillable water bottle
 Carabineer

Toilet articles
 Toilet paper
 Biodegradable soap
 Small towel/washcloth
 Unscented lip balm*
 Unscented hand cream*
 Small shovel
 Garbage bag for pack out areas
 Tootbrush/paste*
 Contact solution and case/glasses*
 Feminine hygiene articles*
 Diapers and wipes for babies
 Hairbrush and hair ties*
 Solar water heater bag for showers

Pack necessities
 Sleeping bags
 Sleeping pads
 Headlamps
 Sunglasses
 Water bottles
 Clothing
 Swim suit
 Towel or Shammy
 Mirror
 Medications
 Map
 Compass
 Cash
 ID
 Sunscreen
 Sun hat
 Bug spray & itch cream
 Baby wipes
 Bandaids/hand sanitizer/etc.
 Raingear (for pack, as well)


*Designates something that you may prefer to put in your personal pack

The checklist conveniently divides everything you'll need for a successful camping trip into these categories: camp setup, pocket necessities, survival kit, pack necessities, and other. It's free for you and all of your friends to download and use, just please link back to this original page if you share it with anyone! Download your free copy today and enjoy the outdoors!

Monday, May 18, 2015

Family Camping Basics

Before children, I spent many summers backpacking, road tripping, and even leading high adventure wilderness trips in the Adirondack Mountains. The wilderness is a love of mine, and I have been patiently waiting until my children were old enough to share that love with me. That time has finally arrived, and though we won't be backpacking, we are planning our first car camping trip next weekend, and a few more over the rest of the summer!

Tent camping takes a lot of forethought to begin with, and more so when you have young children (one still in diapers, for us!) as well. While our first trip will be to a campground, we are planning some state forest camping this summer, as well. The biggest difference between the two are what you can leave out at night and what you need to put back in your car to avoid bear and animal infestation, as well as if you are able to throw your garbage out and get fresh water (at a campground)  or if you need to secure your garbage and pack in your water (forest). Either way should be completely doable with young children if you have the correct planning and, for us at least, plan to "car camp" (i.e. you can drive your vehicle into your campsite or at least very close, so you can bring more things with you instead of only what you can carry on your back).

Here are some general guidelines to help your family camping experience go smoothly:

  1. Use a packing checklist (get your free copy here)
  2. Use a food packing checklist (we'll be uploading one of those later this week, too!)
  3. Pack your camp supplies and food in 5-gallon buckets and a cooler. They'll double as seats, the lids will provide fire fanning tools, and the 5-gallon buckets are fairly secure.
  4. Label those buckets and always put things back where they were.
  5. Teach your kids wilderness, camp, and trail etiquette. Don't litter, follow pottying rules (100' away from a trail, 200' away from a water source; mix your waste with some dirt/leaves, cover, and leave a small stick standing up so others know not to use that spot!), walk in the center of trails, don't burn things that shouldn't be burnt, etc.
  6. Keep your shoes outside the tent. Trust me, you'll be thankful for a clean floor when you try to sleep.
  7.  Find a level tent spot--remove every twig you see, and roll around on the floor after the tent is up but before you finalize your spot. You may realize it's not level after all! Better to change now than in the middle of the night.
  8. Use a tent that you can reasonably put up considering your situation. Do you need two adults? If so, where will the kids be? We chose an easy-up family sized tent because then one adult can keep the kids safe while the other handles the tent.
  9. Always sign in to trails and give your itinerary to someone before you leave for your trip.
  10. Relax! The more organized and prepared you are, the easier it will be to focus on the purpose of your trip--new experiences, memory building, relaxation, and fun.
Good luck on your family camping endeavors! We'd love to hear about your experiences and other tips and tricks you've used to help things go smoothly. We can't WAIT to cook around a fire, snuggle up in a sleeping bag, and drink hot cocoa while watching the sun rise!

Next: Family Camping Packing Checklist

Saturday, April 25, 2015

How the Sabbath Changed Me

I didn't always observe the Sabbath. In fact, I was convicted to keep it for years before actually beginning the practice of honoring Shabbat. I grew up with Sunday as our day of worship, and when I began to feel convicted about keeping the Sabbath--on the actual Sabbath as I believe the Bible commands, I heard the justifications from many Christians of how it doesn't matter when we keep the Sabbath as long as we have a "day of rest". The thing is, I've had the traditional Sunday-Day-Of-Rest experience for almost my entire life. That wasn't what I was convicted of, nor what I understood from my reading, of what I was to do.

So I talked to my husband about it. More than a few times. Verbalizing my struggle, verbalizing my questions, allowing myself to process the fact that I was feeling like this was a big deal and that I was uncomfortable with doing it, and with not doing it. Finally, I decided I was going to do it.

Observing the Sabbath has changed me. At first, it was a struggle. I didn't know how I was going to manage not doing my regular work (laundry, dishes, cleaning, cleaning, cleaning, homeschool prep, cleaning, cleaning, cleaning). What would happen to the house? What would happen to my sanity that was questionable anyway? Why do I feel selfish? How do I deal with feeling lazy (feelings not based on truth, but feelings, nonetheless)?

I slowly transitioned. First, implementing that on the Sabbath, I would study some Biblical topic of interest. Next, rushing to get my work down prior to sundown on Friday. This was followed by looking into what the flow of the Sabbath meal/service was to be. I printed document after document, watched YouTube videos, and did everything I could to learn what the burning flame in my soul was being called to do.

And then recently, a few months into this, I realized something. I am no longer eager to study a Biblical topic just on the Sabbath--I'm instead doing it all week long. I'm eager to share Biblical scholarly lectures with my children on our car rides, and to read entire books of the Bible at a time, with completely new insight than I ever had before. I'm less depressed. Less frantic.

I've learned that having that 24 hours from Friday through Saturday to continue my mindless cycle of never ending housework doesn't actually help me get anything done. I was so fearful of being "behind" a day, only to find that that day never helped me get ahead or behind to begin with. In fact, the opposite has happened. Because I'm not doing my "normal" work on Shabbat, I'm getting all of the other things "done" that I never had time for before. Research. Beautifying my house. Getting rid of accumulated piles of papers. Making gifts for my children. So many important things that I never got to before because they were always at the bottom of my list.

I've seen it change my children. They are so peaceful having a whole day to rest. We have a special Shabbat Box with toys, books, and videos that are only to be used on Shabbat. They are eager to light the candles, blow the shofar, receive specific blessings, break the bread, and talk about Shabbat every week. The tradition, meaning, and experience is something they look forward to, and as my daughter said, they "wish every day could be the Sabbath!"

I did not change for the Sabbath. The Sabbath changed me.

Isaiah 58:13-14
“Keep the Sabbath day holy.
Don’t pursue your own interests on that day,
but enjoy the Sabbath
and speak of it with delight as the LORD’s holy day.
Honor the Sabbath in everything you do on that day,
and don’t follow your own desires or talk idly.
Then the LORD will be your delight.
I will give you great honor
and satisfy you with the inheritance
 I promised to your ancestor Jacob.
I, the LORD, have spoken!