I will be the first one to say that I’m not a camping type of person. I am 1000% a hotel girlie. This summer however, we got invited on a camping trip with a group of our friends. We didn’t want to miss out so we decide to tent camp with our whole family for the first time! I was dreading this trip as it got closer. I almost backed out a few times too! BUT I’m happy to announce that we had a great time and would definitely do it again! We learned a lot so I’m going to share with you the things we couldn’t have survived without as tent camping beginners. Check out our Tent Camping Checklist below.
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Tent Camping in Michigan
First things first, we had to pick a location. I’m from Michigan and everyone knows that northern Michigan is absolutely beautiful in the summer. We landed on Woodland Shores Resort in Mears, MI. We were able to get two lots next to each other (some of our friends had an RV and others tent camped with us). The park is located right across the street from Lake Michigan and has its own private beach just for guests. This was my favorite part!! There was also a pool and a nice playground for the kids to play. The bathroom/shower areas were clean as well. The whole park was shaded which made it nice and cool for sleeping – another huge plus!
I would say when tent camping, make sure you find a campground that has the amenities you need. There is no way I could stay somewhere that didn’t have showers/bathrooms or electricity. Some people are fine pooping in a bag but I’m not one of them. We for sure needed a site that had an electrical hook up too.
Woodland Shores did have free wifi but only at the community building. You had to walk up there in order to use it. We did not have wifi at our site. I like unplugging from socials for awhile but we had a storm come through one night and it would have been nice to check the weather.
This campground also had basketball courts, a ball field where we played kickball, and a community area where they had a dance party one night!
Overall Woodland Shores was great. Like I said though, the star of the show was this private beach. The water was crystal clear, clean and had a fun sandbar to swim out to. One of the days we had some epic waves which were SO FUN.
Tent Camping Checklist
Okay, now lets get into the whole point of this blog post… the 14 items I recommend for tent camping beginners. Remember I am no expert since I have camped exactly ONE time. These are just what I used and felt like it was worth buying.
- String Lights – trust me, you will want to be able to see at night. String lights are so convenient to hang up inside and outside of your tent for lighting. Plus they look cute and cozy!
- Griddle – I feel like most of our food was cooked with a griddle. Our friends did have a camper, so we were able to use their stove top too.
- Cooler – get a good one what will stay cold for long periods of time! The bigger the better! We brought A LOT of food for our family of six.
- Clothing line – we did NOT bring this and wish we had. Luckily our friends had some rope. You will want to dry towels and bathing suits.
- Camping chairs – this might be obvious but don’t forget one for everyone!
- Box Fan – even if you’re not a fan sleeper (we are big time fan sleepers) I feel like you’ll still want this. We had ours running all day and night to keep the tent cool. It also acts like a sound machine so you don’t hear every little noise going on outside your tent.
- Top Tier Air Mattress – I think this is what really made my camping trip better. Our air mattress is a king size self inflatable. We slept so high off the ground and its comfy! We REALLY REALLY love this thing.
- Lantern – Another lighting option for your tent, but you will also want this to walk to the bathrooms at night!
- Thermacell Mosquito Repellent – our friends had this and they swear by it. I believe them because none of us had a single bug bite!
- Our tent – obviously get what tent works best for you but this is the one we have. It is the EASIEST set up ever. We also had a huge thunderstorm one night of our trip and it did not leak at all. We didn’t even have a rainfly on it! We can both stand up straight in it also. We highly recommend. Our kids used this cheaper tent and it was fine too but not as nice as our tent.
- Folding Table – You will definitely want to bring a table. I would say most campsites will include a picnic table but you will still want a place to cook your food/set your food on.
- Mat for outside of tent – this is good to have as a doormat. Keep your shoes on it so no dirt gets in the tent. It’s easy to sweep off too!
- Tarp – this is for underneath your tent. Every camping article I read suggested this. I guess its extra protection for your tent.
- Trash Can – It’s nice to have a designated trash bin instead of just using trash bags.
Then of course don’t forget the obvious things like utensils, cookware, bedding, etc. I also invested in a shower caddy which was nice to take to the showers. Don’t forget to bring bath towels too!
Bring these for the kids..
Our kids were lucky because they definitely didn’t lack in people to play with. Our group had a total of 12 kids!! These items are what they enjoyed the most on the camping trip.
Scooters – We didn’t really have room in our van for bikes, so they settled on scooters. These were used constantly by all the kids! Highly recommend scooters, bikes, roller-skates, etc.
Walkie Talkies – We didn’t have these but the kids would have had a BLAST with them I’m sure.
Coloring/Arts and Crafts – the kids colored and made bracelets.
Balls – basketballs, kickballs, wiffleballs… etc. More than likely there will be a court or field for them to play in.
Beach Toys – I’m glad our group had beach toys because the kids played with those all day on our beach days.
First Aid Kits – you wouldn’t believe the amount of times these kids fell and got a skinned knee.
I hope this list helped any other beginner campers who feel a little intimidated. Trust me, I did NOT want to go at first. Now I think back about all the fun we had and all the memories made. We will most likely turn this into a yearly trip!
If any other experienced campers want to add to this list, leave your suggestions in the comments!
Check out these other posts while you’re here!