This weekend we are going camping as a family for father's day weekend. It's the first time we've done this as a whole family. Well, sort of. We've slept in campers before as a family but never in a tent. But then again, our kids are sleeping in a camper and my wife and I are in a tent.
We've got a huge list of things we need to bring, life jackets for the lake, various food items, sleeping bags, and so on. But to me, for camping, there are three things you cannot be without.
If you aren't in a tent it isn't camping. You may be at a staying at a place called McCamp's Camping Camp Campground, you're not camping. You are sleeping in a trailer. For the record, my wife and I are camping, my kids are trailer parking.
If you are going camping, or even sleeping in a trailer, you will need a flashlight at some point. Yes, you can use the one on your phone but those are barely useful. A real flashlight is better for going to pee in the middle of the night, finding that thing you're looking for, or spotting the eyes of the critter lurking near your tent. I really like a head lamp better than a flashlight. It frees up your hands for whatever you're doing in the dark.
Anything Sleep On That Isn't the Ground
I was camping in the Fort Pierre Grassland one time on a little hunting trip. I didn't bring any type of pad to sleep on. I didn't need much, just a rollup foam pad would have sufficed. Instead I slept on the jaggedly uneven ground that cattle had walked on while it was wet and then dried in the arid sun of central South Dakota. Foam pad, air mattress, cot, anything is better than nothing when sleeping on the ground.