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An article from a first time camper

Posted by AJ Palmer on October 23, 2009

I just read an article in the AJC an Atlanta based news paper.  In it Theresa Walsh Giarrusso was writing about going on her first camping trip, and wanted the readers to give her some suggestions and asked 7 good questions.  Below I have the questions and my answers.  If you  want to read the whole article and read other responses to her post it can be found here.

Anyone who has ever read this blog knows that I am not the outdoorsy type.  I am 37-years-old and have never, ever, not once been camping. And neither has my husband!

This weekend our family will be CAMPING for the first time thanks to the Cub Scouts. (Walshie did join Cub Scouts. See earlier entry on that decision.)

I am very excited about sharing the experience with Walsh, but I am also pretty certain we’re going to do things wrong, bring the wrong stuff and just generally be way out of our comfort zone. (And as you know from the football game discussion if it rains, I am out of there!)

We are lucky the Cub Scouts are making it an easy first trip. We will only be at Stone Mountain and our tent (borrowed from my friend Sheridan –thank you) will be located near the bathroom. (Hooray for indoor plumbing!) We will be sleeping in tents, but they will provide dinner. (Hooray for provided dinner.)

We will be hiking but I’m a good walker and in decent shape so I’m not too worried about that. I am extremely worried about getting the tent up and staying warm and dry during the night. (I am mildly worried about rapists and wild animals but those fears are probably unfounded.)

We had planned to take Rose and leave the baby with my mom and dad. But since Rose was out sick with bronchitis three days this week I am thinking she shouldn’t be exposed to cold , damp air and campfire smoke. (Michael thinks I’m crazy but I know cold air and smoke can set off lung issues and the poor child coughed constantly for five days!)

Michael is fairly certain I will bolt as soon as it gets dark and temperature drops at all. Despite his doubts, I am committed to stay as long as it doesn’t rain on me!

Here are my questions:

How long could it possibly take us to put up our tent? Is an hour and a half enough time? Two hours?

Is Walsh’s Pottery Barn Batman sleeping bag not going to be warm enough?

What if we snuggle him between us?

Do we need to bring a gallon jug of water?

Do we need to bring a cooler?

Where do we keep our snacks (they said not in the tent and in what?)

Give me some basic dos and don’t for the night! Nothing is too elementary!


Hi Theresa,

You’re in for a great treat I’ve been camping my whole life and I even run a website devoted to it called  As for you questions:

1. It depends on the tent, look at the directions before hand but it shouldn’t take long. But make sure this is one of the fist things you do when you arrive, and try to get there early.  You don’t want to be figuring out how to do this in the dark.

2. I checked your sleeping bag on pottery barns web-site and they say that it’s cotton inside and out, and it has a Velcro instead of a zipper.  It seems more like a sleepover bag than a camping bag.  It depending on the climate you’re camping in, but cotton is not the best way to go for warmth, if your kids sweat it will hold that in and could make them colder.  Plus a zipper holds in warmth better than Velcro.

3. Snuggle away

4. It sounds like the campsite your going to has water, but you don’t know how clean it’s going to be.  It’s always good to bring your own water.

5. If you’re going to grill you need 2 coolers, one for food one for drinks.  People especially kids are always closing and opening coolers to get drinks, and that is not good for perishable food especially meat that should stay in a cooler that is not being opened and closed.

6. Snack like power or cereal bars can be kept in the tent as long as there not open.  Open wrappers will attract bugs.  Fresher snacks like fruit can be kept in a plastic bag in the cooler.  And depending on how far you are from your car you can keep snacks your sure won’t melt in the car.

7. Let me think`; don’t bring your shoes into the tent.  You might want bring an extra towel to lie at the foot of your tent so you can put the shoes there.  It sounds like this is not a campsite that will have anything crawl in your shoes.  I’m not saying that to scar you, it just that I have camped in the desert before, and you need to check your shoes there.

I hope that was helpful, you can also get a free e-book designed for grilling and camping in the outdoors.  Just go to


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