How to Camp Like a Champ: Camping Tips and Tricks

Learn camping hacks, camping tips, and more in this ultimate camping article!

By: Rebecca Gonner, Editor,
How to Camp Like a Champ Camping Tips and Tricks
How to Camp Like a Champ Camping Tips and Tricks
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Camping is a great summer vacation for family or friends to enjoy nature and just get away from it all; however, if you are just learning how to camp, then this can be quite the daunting task. So let's take it step-by-step and go over the basics of camping with this How to Camp Like a Champ: Camping Tips and Tricks collection.

Below you'll find suggestions for what to pack, what to eat, and what to do while you're camping to ensure your trip is a success. There's more to camping than just packing a tent, setting it up, and starting a campfire, so make sure you are prepared when you head into the wilderness. If you follow these tips and tricks, people will think that you have been camping for years. Camping is about relaxation and enjoying the great outdoors; so, camp like a champ, and take some of the stress out of preparation by checking out these great camping ideas.

Pro tip: Make reservations in advance (most campsites have a website or at least a phone number). Especially if you want to camp in the summer or on a holiday weekend, call well in advance to make a reservation--months ahead, if you can. Reserving earlier may also result in a lower price than trying to snag a spot the week before, and you’ll have more site options to pick from.

Camping for Beginners

What to Bring Camping

Nothing's worse than arriving at a campsite and realizing you are not prepared. Be sure you have all the essentials before leaving home. Check out this list of the bare necesities (and maybe a few other things) that you shouldn't head to the campground without.

  1. Tent or whatever your camping shelter of choice may be. Whether it's an RV, a modest tent, or simply a sleeping bag and the stars above, just make sure you have somewhere to sleep at night! And while you're at it, be sure to grab sleeping bags, pillows, blankets, and sleeping pads, or any other sleeping accomodations you may need.

    Pro tip: If you're having trouble getting the tent packed up, check out this How to Pack a Tent tutorial.

  2. Clothes that are good for physical activity and warm weather, including good tennis shoes or hiking boots. Athletic shorts and t-shirts are great for this (remember, it's not a fashion show!); and ladies, don't forget to have enough sports bras along, you'll be much more comfortable traipsing through the woods this way. Speaking of bras, don't forget to pack socks and undies! You may be able to get away with stretching two shorts and shirts over four days, but please, for everyone's sake, pack enough underwear for each day of the trip. Don't forget a swim suit if there's water nearby, or even if you're just looking to sunbathe! But remember to protect your skin from the sun. Water shoes are good to have as well. Bring a hat to protect from the sun and ticks if you are in a forested area. Lastly, it's always good to have at least one warm sweatshirt and a pair of long pants with you. Summer nights can get chilly!

    If you plan on doing laundry during your trip, check out this great camping hack for drying clothes: DIY Drying Rack Camping Hack

  3. Food to last you the entire trip. If your trip is one night or a weekend, then you can probably get by with just a cooler; but, if you're going on a longer trip and won't have opportunity to restock on perishables and ice, you may want to invest in a portable freezer.

    Here are some foods that are good for camping: marshmallows, chocolate, graham crackers. And that's it! That's everything you need to eat while camping.

    Just kidding. Here's some of the basics, though your full food list will be determined by the recipes you decide to make:
    Plenty of water
    Loaf of bread
    Hot dogs
    Water again (you can make your own washing station!)
    Granola bars
    Juice boxes/pouches
    Canned fruit
    Water. Staying hydrated is very important.

    Along with your food, you'll want:
    A can opener
    Metal campfire roasting sticks
    Camp pie irons for making pudgy pies (which will be explained in the Camping Recipes section below)
    Water bottles (refillable if you have access to good water, store-bought if you don't)
    Pots and pans
    Spoons/Forks (not everything can be finger food, but feel free to prove me wrong on that)
    And maybe a little soap and a sponge to clean up your dishes for the next meal.

  4. Miscellaneous, yet mandatory items like:

    Bug spray (you can even make your own!)
    Flashlights with new batteries (maybe bring extra if you have bad luck like me)
    Matches (make them waterproof if you're really cool)
    Sunscreen (get the lotion type, the spray type, and the stick for your face)
    Fire wood 
    Old newspaper to start the fire (or try these homemade fire starters)
    Oven mits or hot pads
    Lawn chairs
    Rain ponchos
    A first aid kit (which you hopefully won't need)
    A watch
    Body and hair soaps of your choice
    Tooth brush and paste
    Garbage bags (remember what your parents say, leave it the way you found it)
    Toilet paper
    Pads or tampons
    Emergency cash (keep this somewhere safe). 

  5. Why it's important to make your own insect repellent!

    "Repelling mosquito's and other bugs is so important to me because I get eaten alive every summer.  Mosquito's will land on my husbands arm, not bite him and then fly to me and bite me 12 times in the same area.  Insect repellent has become my armor as I step outside to battle.  I don't like the smell of citronella, but I love it compared to mosquito bites!"  - Natalie Shaw from

Camping Recipes

  1. Pudgy Pies: The possibilities are endless. If it fits between two slices of bread, you can make it into a pudgy pie. Pudgy pies can be for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or dessert, depending on your filler. The pizza pudgy pie is a personal favorite, but you can make yours however you want. 

    Always start by buttering one side of both slices of bread, then place one slice in your pie iron butter-side down (like you're making a grilled cheese). Add your filling on top of the bread, then add your other slice butter-side up. Close up your pie iron and hold it over the fire, rotating often. Feel free to pull back from the flames and open up your iron to check on your pie, but be careful, the iron will be very hot! 

    Here are a few basic pudgy pies that can be eaten for different meals.

    Grilled cheese: The simplest of the pies, just add cheese. You can add deli meat as well for a hot ham and cheese.

    Pizza Pudgy Pie: Spread pizza sauce on the non-buttered sides of your bread (this is easiest after you put them in the irons) and throw in shreaded cheeses and whatever meats you like! It's easy to buy a small package of pepperoni or diced ham to bring along. You could even add pineapple and make it Hawaiian!

    Grilled PB+J: Prepare it like a normal PB+J. I'm not saying it sounds good, I'm just saying don't knock it til you try it.

    Pudgy Pie Pie: Add pie filling between your bread for a yummy dessert!

    Pudgy S'more: Put some marshmallows and chocolate as your filling. You can also add peanut butter for added flavor.

    Breakfast Sandwich: For this one, you'll need to use one half of the iron as a skillet to cook your egg. Then, put your cooked egg on your bread with a little cheese and meat, and toast it for a little bit.

  2. Snacks: It's important to keep energy up when you're out in the wild, so don't forget to eat between meals.

    Here are some great camp recipes for when you get the munchies:
    Healthy Camping Oatmeal Recipe
    Camping Curry Recipe with Quinoa
    Hassle Free Camp Snacks
    Hearty and Healthy Camping Oatmeal
    Bacon Wrapped Hot Dogs on a Stick (it's not really camping unless you eat something off a stick)

  3. S'mores: Technically, this goes along with the stick section, but there are so many beautiful possibilities when it comes to s'mores that they really deserve their own section.

    We all know the basic s'more (and if you don't, "You're killing me Smalls!") which is a gooey, perfectly roasted marshmallow paired with a piece or two (or three) of chocolate smooshed between two crunchy graham crackers. Delicious simplicity. But, you can do more with s'mores!

    Try these fun s'more recipes:
    Chocolate Covered Strawberry S'mores
    Brownie Brittle S'mores
    Chocolate Chip S'mores
    Campfire Cones

    And feel free to put your creativity to work and come up with your own s'mores recipe. Make it a contest to see who can make theirs the most creative, yet still taste good!

    Interested in other great camping desserts? Check out this fun Campfire Eclairs recipe.

  4. Potatoes: Potatoes are an easy campfire side dish and can be cooked sliced, diced, or whole.

    Try these easy campfire potato recipes:
    Campfire Potato Bundles
    Cheddary Pouch Potatoes

    Also consider these great ideas for toppings and seasonings for your potatoes:
    Salt and Pepper

    Just throw it in some tinfoil, plop it on a cooling fire, and enjoy!

Camp activities

The most important part of camping is to HAVE FUN! So here are some great camping activites, and for even more camping fun, check out these great camp crafts!

  1. In Nature: 
    Take a hike (literally)
    Take a dip in a nearby body of water
    Go fish (No, not the card game)
    Find a bunch of cool leaves and make a project (Here's a great project you can use those leaves for when you get home!)
    Go bird watching (try replicating bird calls you hear for added fun) 
    Climb a tree
    Chase fireflies
    Star gaze

  2. Campfire activities: 
    Sing some C-A-M-P-F-I-R-E-S-O-N-G songs
    Tell stories (and use this Storytelling Spinner craft for inspiration)

  3. Get Active: 
    Reuse those paper plates after meal time for this fun ring toss activity.
    Have a disposable camera day! Take pictures of everything you see around the campground. You can give kids this fun camera toy to save on film.
    Enjoy an impromptu treasure hunt with this easy game.
    Do some arts and crafts with everything you find in nature.
    Play ball with this green craft.
    Collect insects in this Glow-in-the-Dark DIY Bug Jar.

Great DIY Camping Hacks

Interested in taking your camping experience to the next level? Check out these great camping hacks that will make you the envy of everyone at the campground!

Bonus: Post-Camping Advice

"Bug bites and stings are an inevitable part of summer - especially when you're camping! Despite using repellants and swatting away pesky mosquitoes, I can't seem to avoid the itchy bites! When the itch hits, first I clean the skin, then stop the itch and start the healing response with a simple, soothing balm." - Stephanie Gerber from

Featured Camping Advice in this Article

Featured projects in this article:

Homemade Insect Repellent Soap by Natalie Shaw from

Soothing Natural Bug Bite Balm by Stephaine Gerber from


What are your camping tips and tricks? 

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This is such a great resource! I'm not very good at camping, but now I think I could be thanks to all this info.


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