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Filed under: Family Camping

The Economics of Camping

June 12, 2010 by · 8 Comments 


     I almost didn’t write this blog entry, but the more I thought about it, the more I knew I needed to do it.  After my last entry about our backyard test run, there were some comments from experienced campers about the quality of our tents.  I have read similar comments on various forums and blogs.  Some experienced campers like to lecture new campers about the “quality” (read this as expensive) equipment they should own.  Through the experience of preparing to tent camp, I have learned to keep the main thing the main thing.  Enjoying time as a family, not owning expensive equipment, is the main thing.

     Just before the Woodall’s blog launched this year, my husband, the sole wage earner in our family, found out that he would be losing his job.  Before getting this news, our intention was to purchase a pop-up camper or lightweight travel trailer and hit the road every chance we got.  Yes, we want to see God’s great outdoors, and yes, we want to enjoy the amenities that campgrounds have to offer. (I mentioned in my very first post that we are citified, and I meant it!)  Because of the turn of events in our lives, we had to find a more economical way to do those things. Tent camping has been the answer.

    I didn’t include these personal details for sympathy. So many others are in the same position. We have shifted gears and adjusted well.  We are totally okay with the fact that our vacation this year may very well be spent in a tent. (Fees for a tent camping site are so much less expensive than a hotel room.) I tend to be a “pull yourself up by the boot straps” kind of gal.  I can see that half-full glass almost every time.  I see this situation we find ourselves in now as a blessing.  Through camping, we will spend more time together. We are already learning to work better together.  When we got our new tent recently, and we were putting it up for the very first time, my husband and I didn’t get agitated at one another at all.  I didn’t even get mad when he refused to read the directions. That is a miracle!

    I have been pleasantly surprised at how little money we have had to spend to get started camping.  Granted, we already had a tent and sleeping bags to get us going, but we haven’t had to spend a whole lot of money to round out our camping gear.  Is our new tent of the finest quality? No.  We got the best one we could afford.  It will keep us reasonably protected from the elements so that we will be well rested for bird watching, fishing, hiking, swimming, and spending quality time as a family.  I am glad that we didn’t wait until we could afford all of the camping niceties that are available to start camping.  We are just getting out there to be together.

  I said all of this to say that I hope others of you who have hit a rough patch during this challenging economy will consider tent camping.  I think we would be hard pressed to find a more family friendly activity that creates fond memories that our children will treasure for a lifetime.


8 Responses to “The Economics of Camping”
  1. Randy says:

    WOW! About all I can say is BRAVO and God bless your family. You certainly have the right attitude to have a fantastic family relationship and camping vacation.

  2. Monica McLaughlin says:

    I am a little confused. I thought you bought the tent, because you couldn’t afford the camper; yet later you say you already had the tent.and sleeping bags.

    Are you new to tenting or old tenters who were looking to upgrade, but decided against it for financial reasons?

  3. Donna Carol says:

    Monica, I was hoping those who hadn’t been reading my entries from the beginning wouldn’t get confused. We had a tent and sleeping bags from a couple of Cub Scout trips we went on a few years ago. (If I remember right, I included that information in my very first blog entry.) From the time we moved to the Smoky Mountains, all my son and I could think about was getting a pop-up and camping. With my husband’s job loss, we couldn’t afford the camper, but my son and I still had “the fever” We dug the tent and sleeping bags out and decided to give tent camping a serious try – nothing like the one night Cub Scout trips with pre-packaged cinnamon rolls and individual containers of orange juice. I hope that helps clarify things.

  4. Good luck to you.
    It is good you already had some equipment, so you can still go camping this summer. Campsite fees add up as well.

  5. Eric says:

    Great post. It is so true that you don’t really need a lot of money for tent camping. Yes, the best/most expensive gear has its benefits but it is hardly necessary to have a good camping trip. Some upfront investment for camping gear is well worth it as the return on that investment comes back in great memories.

  6. poboypcb says:

    It appears to this old camper that yuo have a very good head on your shoulders.
    Enjoy the great outdoors!!

  7. jlbmagna says:

    My family have camped in three time segments #1 tents – 10 years, #2 Popup camper – 10 years, #3 Trailer RV 5 years. We have enjoyed it all probably the most fun was in the Pop up with the tent next, the trailer is most convenient. We primarily use a Trailer due to having 2 dogs, a Dachshund and a Dachshund mix. All are good in different ways. Family is the focus don’t worry about the equipment, that only seemed to guide our travels and locales due to their limitations, the equipment never altered our focus. Love life and live it.

  8. FarNorthChuck says:

    Glad you’re back into tent camping. It doesn’t matter whether your tent is waterproof or not. I have found after 30 years of tent camping so-called waterproof tents are not waterproof. If you want to waterproof your tent you should first put your tent on a high spot of ground so water will run away from your tent. Next place a good ground cloth or heavy-duty tarp under it to prevent holes developing in the floor from walking on the roots & sharp rocks under the tent. Then you make a rain fly from a medium weight plastic tarp spread over your tent. The fly needs to be well staked down to keep it from flying away in the wind. The rain fly that comes with most tents barely cover the top of the tent & I believe are advertising gimmicks so the manufacturer can say they have a rain fly. The rain fly should nearly come down to the ground & have at least one to two feet overhang on the sides & ends. I find about a six-foot overhang on the side with the door opening preferable. The area around the door should be propped up with poles to a height of the door opening or a little higher while the rest of the fly on the door side is tide down close to the ground. This allows a path for moisture to escape & it gives you a somewhat drier entrance when it rains. It also gives you a relatively dry place to leave muddy boots or shoes outside without them getting soaked with rainwater. Putting down a lightweight doormat both outside and inside the door of the tent does wonders for keeping the tent cleaner.

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