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Pitch a tent with the ultimate beginner’s guide to camping

New to camping? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered!

If you’ve never been camping before, the prepwork for an outdoor adventure can seem overwhelming, but these tips will have you feeling like a pro in no time.

This isn’t your run of the mill beginner’s guide to camping — it’s gonna focus on the tips that you need to know in order to feel like a pro camper so you don’t wind up burning the forest down or getting eaten by a bear. Instead of rehashing a list of gear that you’ll need to go from sleeping in a bed to sleeping under the stars, let’s talk about how to prepare for camping — starting with your brain.

When you’re a camping beginner, having a good time is all about your mindset. Have the right frame of mind to get started and you’ll find that everything will come together. In my experience, the right mindset is equally as important as having the appropriate gear and know-how. There are gazillions of articles on the internet that discuss the best gear for beginners and that provide tips on different camping skills. However, there are hardly any about the oh-so-important frame of mind.

The first thing you need to know about your very first camping trip is that something will probably go wrong (let’s hope it’s not the bear). That’s just the way it is. That doesn’t mean something major, but you’ll forget something, have poor weather, lose something, or experience any list of unfortunate events. That’s why your mindset while learning the ins and outs of camping needs to be in the right place. Instead of imagining a picturesque scene of the perfect campground you may have seen in the movies or in a magazine, it is important to realize that camping isn’t meant to be glamorous (unless you’re glamping). Expect to be a little uncomfortable while sleeping, expect to face some of nature’s less than desirable critters (maybe the bear). In other words, don’t plan on camping like Tom Haverford in Parks and Recreation…

That realistic mindset should also lead you to heed some of the most practical camping advice for beginners you will likely hear: when you plan your first camping trip, plan it for your backyard (duh). If you don’t have a big enough backyard, find a friend or family member who does. The last thing you want to do is get to a campsite far from home and realize that you are in over your head. A backyard camping excursion will give you a chance to get some of the basics of camping mastered, like getting used to how your tent sets up or becoming comfortable building a fire in a safe way, without being far from the comfort of a house should something go wrong. If something goes wrong, you are just a short walk away from comfort (and a toilet that flushes). Set yourself up for success instead of running the risk of having a bad experience that might ruin your enthusiasm for camping forever more — because camping is kinda fun, guys.

The most important thing about having the right mindset as a beginning camper is to remember to have fun. Laugh at your mistakes. Find the humor in the situation if something goes wrong. Don’t make it about having the perfect camping trip where everything goes right — that’ll only set you up for a major bummer. At its very core, camping is about enjoying time out in nature and getting away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, and it will serve you well to always remember that. Oh, and pro tip: you can never have too much extra toilet paper. Happy camping!

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