Camping can be intimidating for someone who has never done it before or for someone who has had bad experiences in the past. After all, why would any sane person want to spend a weekend away from their perfectly secure home, stocked fridge and comfy bed in exchange for sleeping on the ground, exposed to wild animals?!
Well, if you’re reading this, chances are that you yourself know exactly why you would spend a weekend camping in the outdoors. Whether you enjoy it because you like cooking outside, sleeping under the stars or hanging around the campfire, everyone has their own reasons, but do you have someone in your life who is completely opposed to camping?
Then this quick guide is for you. Because after learning these five tips, you’ll be able to convince any of your friends or family to join you for your next weekend camping adventure.
Set the Expectations
One of the main reasons why some people commonly exclaim, “Camping?! Why would I want to go camping?!” is because there is a misconception of what camping really is. For one, when some people think of camping, they think of sleeping on an uncomfortable, rocky surface, eating freeze-dried food and doing their business in the woods. Alternatively, they automatically think that camping is actually backpacking.
While backpacking does technically include camping as part of the activity, backpacking as an activity also includes much more like packing all your gear into a pack, hiking to a destination with everything on your back, setting up camp and doing that all over again the next day.
However, camping, as we are referring to it, is the more relaxed kind. The kind where you throw all of your gear plus more into your car, pack up a cooler to the brim with fresh food, drive to your campsite and set up camp pretty much right next to where you park. It’s convenient, there’s little physical effort involved and it should be comfortable.
You might have referred to it as car camping, convenience camping or maybe even glamping, although we generally refer to glamping to set ups that are more like outdoor hotels.
So the first thing to do when you are asking someone who isn’t a camper to join you for camping is to make sure that you are setting the expectation of what kind of camping trip you are going on. Let them know that the sleeping arrangements will be comfortable and that they won’t necessarily be eating freeze-dried food, and you’ll be on your way to painting a brand new, attractive picture of camping for your friends or family.
Make it Easy for Them to Prepare
The second most common objection we get for camping is, “But I don’t have all the gear and don’t know what I need!”. It’s true. Most non-campers won’t have any of the gear and will have no idea what they need. So to make it as easy as possible to help them get set up, we recommend making a simple checklist of all the pieces of gear they will personally need.
The essentials of this list include a sleeping bag, sleeping pad, tent and a flashlight. Everything else is truly personal items like toiletries and clothing, but when giving a new camper a short list of gear, they are oftentimes surprised to see that they only need a few things to get started. If they don’t own any of these things, then we recommend sending them to their local REI to rent equipment.
Since we go camping often, we also usually provide the “group gear” or the gear that everyone will be using. This includes things like a camping table, cooking equipment, first aid kit and campground lighting. And we let new campers know that all of these things are taken care of to help reassure them that there certainly will be food and other comforts.
By making it easy for a new camper to prepare, you’re not only setting them up for success, but you’re also giving them one less thing to worry about.
Provide Good Food
While this is not necessarily important to everyone, we believe that providing good food makes for a much better and memorable experience. Almost every time we bring a new camper out to the wilderness, one of the biggest highlights of the trip is the food!
It might be because everything tastes better when you're outdoors, but it can also be because meal times are when we can bond the most. Shared meals are incredible ways to build strong, deeper relationships.
But what do we consider to be “good” food?
Well, first it needs to be freshly cooked. Freeze-dried food is definitely off the list for us if we’re trying to make a camping trip fun for someone new. This means packing the cooler with fresh produce and protein, and whipping up a meal the same way you might at home...except this time it’s outside!
The second is that with good food, you need good drinks! Whether it’s hot chocolate, coffee or your favorite cold beverage, having good drinks complete a great meal.
For breakfast or colder weather, we recommend our pour over coffee for your meals because it’s fresh, tastes just as good or better than a coffee shop and it’s super easy to brew. You can’t beat freshly brewed coffee while camping!
Find a Campsite with Running Water
Making camping fun for someone who isn’t a camper really is all about making the experience as comfortable as possible, and one of the highest impact factors is whether or not there is running water at the campsite.
At the very least, find a place that has a tap with potable (drinkable) water so no one has to worry about running out of water. If you want to make it even more comfortable, find a campsite that has flushable toilets and running sinks. This will make hygienic concerns much less of a concern.
If you want to take it to another level of comfort, find a place with showers! We often hear that the lack of showering is one of the biggest concerns, so if your new camper can wash off with a shower, that’s another possible issue taken care of.
Have a Plan
Last but not least, have a plan. It will help calm any anxieties or uncertainties someone might have when going camping for the first time in awhile. Imagine if you were going to spend a weekend somewhere you’ve never been before, out of your comfort zone, not really knowing what you’re going to eat or how you’re going to go to the bathroom.
Or imagine being told that you’re going to go on a 4 hour hike the morning of and not having a sense for when you’ll be returning for dinner.
All of these things are enough uncertainties, but having a plan or itinerary will make your friends or family members feel in control. It doesn’t necessarily have to be written, but it helps to at the very least communicate how you expect the weekend to play out.
Uncertainties will now feel more like what’s expected and the entire experience will be significantly more fun.
Hopefully these five tips are helpful for you to bring more friends and family camping. Although camping can be intimidating to the beginner, there are a number of things that experienced campers can do to make it more fun and enjoyable for someone who isn’t a camper.
Have any other tips? Let us know in the comments below!