Family Camping Organization

June 21, 2018

Today's post comes with a warning for the photo allergic... this post has a ton of photos, but with the intent to share the tips for camping organization I've acquired. Also, I wanted to lug my big girl camera to shoot this but with sketchy weather I didn't want to risk it getting wet or having to leave it in a hot car all week. So phone photos it was. 

So if you're interested... continue. 

If not... don't hate me. 

But without further chatting here's how we organize our campsite. 

As a family this is our 2nd year of week long camping. Before this I've camped with friends and Jeremy has as well. We just never camped together. So while we are new to camping together we aren't new to camping in general. I'm pretty certain the two of us logged more ours in the woods as children than on pavement.

The Lee Avenue kids know what I'm talking about, we lived in that wooded area behind our neighborhood that our parents insisted we stay out of.

But I digress...

To start with our tent we Jeremy likes to put a tarp underneath it to help prevent the tent from getting too wet. We also cut up one and put a small tarp in front of the tent, spiked down, to lessen the dirt that gets in. I also have a broom to sweep the tent out. Last, but most important is the tarp we tie up above the tent. This helps with shade, rain, and the fact that our tent has a very open design.

The kitchen area is what I've really spent the most time organizing. 

We have just a standard Academy Sports pop up thing. Yes, technical terms for y'all today! This year Jeremy added the side panel attachments to it. It comes with 3 but for our site this year and how shady it was we only used one to block where the sun was beaming in. That also added a touch of privacy from people driving or walking by. 

The big black bins on the ground next to the picnic table are where we store our main items. One is the main camping bin that houses all tent set up items, flashlights, cords, and steaks. The other bin is the kitchen bin and houses everything we need for eating and the picnic table area. This allows for great storage when we aren't camping as well as making packing for a trip insanely easy, because we only need to check to refill items like paper towels and trash bags. 

On top of the seat part of the table is our ice chest. During this trip we broke down and upgraded to a better one... a raccoon proof one. I could barely open it. Last year the little jerks ate everything we had minus my kombucha. This year they somehow got in even with it bungee corded shut and took far less... but still. So invest in a good ice chest, not only will animals stay out of it but the ice will stay in longer. 

Now for a better view inside the kitchen area. 

To store but be able to easily get to regular use items I keep a shoe organizer hanging in the pavilion. It stores plates and bowls, cooking/eating utensils, cooking spray, bug spray, trash bags, dish soap & a sponge, and seasonings. This can stay out overnight but it can't have anything a raccoon would be intrigued by. Otherwise you're waking up to a mess on your hands. 

Hanging next to it was a new idea I had this year, our paper towels hung up with a bungee cord. This is a keeper idea for us! There was no pulling paper towels out of the shoe hanger every time we needed one, and it never blew off the table onto the ground. 

Behind the pavilion you can see how we hang towels. I only bring enough towels for everyone to have one for swimming and one for bathing. In between we dry them as well as our swimsuits out on the clothes line. 

Also... on the end of the table you can see my griddle and the coffee pot. I have zero desire to cook every meal over an open flame, for one it's too hot and second it's too time consuming. This griddle is my absolute favorite camp cooking device. I made every single meal on it ranging from breakfast burritos to burgers. Last year I even made Walking Tacos. 

Now for inside the tent! 

I pack all of our clothing in a 3 drawer Sterilite bin. It serves the purpose of taking up less space than suitcases and also acts as a side table. Next year the baby and Harrison will split that bottom drawer. 
And yes, I brought a diffuser on this trip. I had the room in my backpack so why not try to promote sleep. 

The AC. 

This had the most questions on Instagram. 

We rigged this up. I happened to grow up camping in a tent that had mesh panels that unzipped, our tent doesn't. Jeremy actually cut the mesh so the AC would fit in. I've provided pics for how we rig this up, but my main advice would be to buy a tent with an AC hole built in. Our next one will definitely have it. 

In case you're wondering how well this works... we between this and the box fan it actually got too cold at night. We also had a site with full shade so I'm sure that made all the difference. Last year in Hot Springs we had less shade and it was much hotter... I almost felt that the AC couldn't keep up. So no matter what, in a tent full shade is very important. 

And yes, many campground reservation sites will state how much shade the site has. 

The spikes Jeremy uses to stake the AC down are much sturdier than we use elsewhere, the last thing we want is for the AC to topple over at night. He also built a wooden box so the AC would be the exact height for the tent window.

And don't forget stuffing extra tarp in the open spaces, gotta keep that air in.

As for sleeping we have a queen air mattress. I just bought a bed in a bag type of comforter/sheet combo from Walmart to make this easy. We bring our pillows off the bed at home and when we get back from camping I just wash this and then stuff it in it's bag and back into the camping box.

In the photo above you can see the port in the tent for an extension cord. I run this behind our bed to connect everything insde (AC, phones, box fan) so Harrison doesn't trip over it.

Below is the behind the bed situation of cords.

That wipes box holds extra light bulbs and the air pump.

Harrison's Pack N Play is on the opposite side of the tent. Behind it are dry food items we don't want in the ice chest. (Don't worry my Colorado friends already warned me that up there this would attract bears... know your area) in front of the PNP is the laundry bag, extra drinks, and the basket we store shoes in. 

Here's another view of the shoe basket set up on his side of the tent.

Next year we will likely add a small cot for Harrison and the baby will have the PNP.

As a mom let me point out that the lack of a pitch black room scared me at first. I was sure he wouldn't sleep. Instead he might stay up a bit later in his bed, but I give him a few books an he lays there looking at book and playing with an action figure or two until he falls asleep. He wakes up a minute earlier than he would at home too, but it's all okay. He's so happy to be camping that his mood doesn't reflect the sleep changes.

Another view of the AC/clothing drawer set up.

Notice my Maglite. I don't play games with raccoons at 2 in the morning.

Next up is just a casual pic of our hang out area, picnic blanket and camp chairs. In the corner of the photo you can see where Jeremy hung a light for the pavilion as well as hanging up one of the extension cords. You don't want to risk those getting wet.

Since we tent camp that means walking to the bathhouse. I really like to book in advance and claim a spot by the bathrooms. This year the weather caused us to change our reservations and we were left with a hike to the potty. 

Either way I like to put all of our bath supplies in a handy little bin with a handle from Dollar Tree so we can easily grab it and take it to the shower. This one has holes in the bottom which is key to letting the water out. 

 Hope this helped any campers, or future campers with easy organization for camping. We fit all of this into the back of our mini van and store it in a storage closet in our garage during the rest of the year.

And don't forget...