How I Learned to Love Camping; Stop Packing.

I used to dread camping because it took forever to pack. The trick is to have a prepacked kitchen box and some equipment ready to just get in the car and go. Years ago I got an LLBean credit card with benefits. After you have collected enough points you get a $10 credit on LLBean stuff as well as free shipping (and monogramming if you are into that) That is how I got all our camping stuff (that I didn’t get at stoop sales). I just read a post that someone sent back their 8 year old tent for repair, for free. We had the experience that if they couldn’t repair something they gave us a new one. I like them.

This is what we always take:
Tent, a plastic sheet for under (tuck the edges under the tent so the water doesn’t wick under) a couple of big tarps with grommets for a rain cover over the tents (the tent waterproofing and rain flaps will probably work well, but the thought of keeping all rain off the top of the tent makes the rain sound cozy instead of ominous)
Sleeping Bags and roll up foam pads
A shelter for the picnic table with zippered net sides
The big ball of twine
A Swiss army knife
A little shovel
A whisk broom
A large flat round grill for the fire ring
A hammock
A couple of battery operated lanterns and flashlights for everyone
A net bag or toy bucket to carry your shampoo etc. to the showers

The kitchen box:
I got the shmancy one from Bean with my coupons, but really you could just have a big plastic box from Target with a lid that you keep packed with:
A set of plastic dishes (one set for each of you)
A big plastic bowl
A couple of mugs and utensils
A couple of stoop sale pots and a pan
Paper towels with the tube taken out (better for squashing)
Some folded tin foil, and a bunch of different sized zip lock bags (they come in handy for everything including storing food that is floating around in the melted ice of the cooler)
Salt, pepper, sugar, tea, ground coffee
Plastic french press coffee maker
Some stoop sale column candles and something pretty to put wildflowers in
A pretty vinyl table cloth (these things sound excessive, but when I am smelly and dirty and sleeping on the ground, nothing makes me feel better than having a good cup of coffee at my pretty table in the woods)
A bag of fire starters (those lighter soaked sawdust sticks that can start fires with the wettest wood)
Bic Barbecue lighter (some matches too)
Some long handled barbecue tools and skewers for shish ka bab (the most delicious and easiest meal)
A large cooler with a tap to drain melted ice
A couple of collapsible camping buckets for water and dish washing
A small container of dishsoap
Batteries of all types
My most treasured item: The pie iron…
Butter two pieces of bread, put them in the cast iron sides, pour in some raw scrambled eggs and cheese, or some banana slices and peanut butter, or apple slices and cinnamon sugar, you are only limited by your own imagination. Close it, clamp it and put it in the fire for a couple of minutes. Repeat while a huge line of children forms behind you. On second thought take two pie irons. Being cast iron, they stay very hot for a long time, only experienced older children should be allowed to use them.

A word on food. I marinate meat for a couple of meals (cubes for shish ka bab, etc.) and freeze them rock hard in a couple of quart Chinese soup containers. They thaw slowly in an icy cooler and keep everything else cold as well. I don't take those frozen plastic blue cold packs they are just dead weight after they thaw.

I am sure that I have forgotten something, but when you have a prepacked kitchen box it is less likely that you need to buy it at the horribly over priced camp store.