The Camping Essentials You’ll Never Want to Leave Behind
We absolutely love a good camping trip. We try and make a yearly trip with the wolfpack to one of South Carolina’s majestic state parks. Let us clarify- when we say “camping” we mean in tents. We aren’t fancy folk with RVs, however public restrooms and running water do make it on our list of requirements. While we wouldn’t consider what we do “glamping”, we also bring air mattresses and phone chargers. THAT is our idea of camping. Why would we want to pee in the woods if we don’t have to? We want to go off the grid, but not so far off that we can’t upload an instagram post or two. Afterall, this blog doesn’t write itself.
We are firm believers that everyone should go camping every once in awhile. It is an amazing experience to wake up to birds chirping and fall asleep under the stars. Some of our best conversations (& ideas) take place around the campfire a couple of cocktails deep. Camping also makes our marriages stronger. Don’t believe us? You try pitching a tent in the dark with your spouse using nothing but a derpy headlamp and a hammer. If you can get through that, we promise you can get through anything. Camping is also a time when you can eat whatever you want. Hot dogs at midnight? Sure. S’mores with Reese’s instead of a Hershey bar? Yes. Write that one down for future reference.
If you’re not sure where to go camping, we recommend State Parks. There are hundreds of them and they all have public restrooms and access to running water. Often times they also have hiking trails where you can dance your way through the woods or parkour off of downed trees (speaking from experience).
We have worked diligently to try and experience several of South Carolina’s best parks. Thus far, we’ve been to Dreher Island, Hickory Knob (x2), Sesquicentennial, and Santee State Parks. Each one has been amazing for different reasons. We’ve been lucky to get the best site ever at Hickory Knob (#13!)- it’s huge and has a beautiful, fairly private view of the lake. This was the first park we went camping in and it poured down rain on us most of the Saturday we were there. It ended up being such a fun weekend- rained on our parade literally, but made for great stories. The canopy tent over our table was our saving grace (see essentials below). It would have been a very different weekend otherwise. We loved this place so much we’ve been back twice. Sesquicentennial had absolutely beautiful trails to hike. Ed and Tyler found this park to be particularly good for parkour- lots of stiffies and tree jumps. Dreher Island was so cute and there was a great frisbee golf course nearby that the guys loved. We loved it too, but mainly because it was a wonderful stage for our dancing queen performance. And Santee State Park has the most amazing open field/ playground area where we spent the day sunbathing, doing yoga, and playing frisbee. We still have so many parks left to check out! That’s good news- more camping trips to come!
In order to make your camping experience the best possible, we have compiled a list of things you should never forget while packing for your adventure. You may thank us now or later:
Booze- Unless of course it is a State Park that bans alcohol. We would never not follow all the rules. Winky face.
Firewood- We forgot this once. A camping for beginners course was happening just next door the following day and Jesse thought some late night “borrowing” of their firewood would be acceptable (and also a fun adventure). None of the other wolves in the pack felt as such and, while she’s ultimately thankful her friends have such good and honest hearts, she was awfully upset about it at the time. Not her proudest moment. Just remember your firewood, people.
Instant coffee- Trader Joe’s makes these fancy packets with cream and sugar inside. Less to pack and it is surprisingly delicious.
Hot dogs- Enough hot dogs to live for a week or two.
Cornhole- This is a great game to have around to keep your busy-bodies occupied while you try to relax. Our dudes have a hard time sitting still, but we love to sit and read or just hang by the fire. This keeps everyone happy. And we like to join in on the fun occasionally. The guys are great, but we are actually very good too- we dare you to challenge us to a game.
A canopy tent- A little rain doesn’t have to ruin your good times. Just stick this puppy over your picnic table and let the games begin. Card games. Board games. Definitely not drinking games.
A flashlight- This may seem obvious, but really don’t forget this. Ashley made this mistake once on the Chaco trail (the trail to the bathroom), and may or may not have been traumatized because of this experience. When you’re walking in the dark in the woods, everything looks the same. You don’t want to end up alone and lost. Just trust us on this one (especially if your sense of direction is anything like the Ginger’s).
A selfie stick- How else will you ALL remember what amazing memories you made?!
Christmas lights- While we may not be super classy, we like to at least pretend to be. These are also helpful when there is a late night bathroom trek- you need to see to get out of the site and it may be helpful to find your way back home. Look for the lights!
A portable speaker- For the aforementioned dancing in the woods.
Water bottles/tumblers- You need both of these. It is VERY important to hydrate and the tumblers are for everything else- but remember, we ALWAYS follow the rules.
Camping chairs- We don’t feel like we need to explain this one.
Now here are a few non-essentials. You don’t have to bring these, but they will really up your camping game:
Heated blanket for winter camping- You must remember to bring the cord for this to work. We know this from experience.
Cardboard/Sharpie/Quarter- These supplies can come in handy for a variety of reasons, but for us they are most helpful to play the Quarter game.
Simple rules: 1. Lay out a large piece of cardboard- this could be an old pizza box, left over from a pack of beer, or any old shipping box. 2. Get something to flip from your fingers, preferably a quarter. 3. Each person takes turns flipping the quarter and letting it land on the cardboard. If it lands on a blank, open spot, that person draws whatever shape they like around the quarter and writes a rule inside the shape. From then on it must be followed any time the quarter lands there. 4. If the quarter lands on a pre-existing shape, the rule inside must be followed. This is such a fun game, because any rule can be created- it’s all up to your imagination. Also, the longer you play, the more full the board gets, so it gets pretty hilarious.
Some of our favorite rules (see pictures below):
Ham face: You literally have to eat eye holes out of a piece of ham (or turkey-probably better for your skin) and wear it as a mask on your face until your next turn.
Troll: You must sit under the table like a troll until your next turn.
Hockey tooth: Take the sharpie and black out a front tooth. This is scary and exciting all at the same time. We were concerned we had ruined Tyler’s teeth (he was not as concerned), but thankfully it came right off. Whew.
Nerf roulette: Got a Nerf gun? Great. Line everyone up and load one foam bullet. Shoot all your friends until someone gets it. This is very fun.
Rodeo: This is a great spectator rule. We guess that really they all are, but man, this one will get you. You land on this spot and you have to run around the campsite (or any designated area) like you’re riding on an angry bull. This one is definitely more fun for your friends to watch than for you to actually do.
A machete- This is fun to try and throw at a tree if you’re bored. Please make sure there is nothing behind the tree before you begin. Safety first.
Darts- These are for Beer Darts.
Teams sit across from each other about six feet apart (depends on skill level). In between the two teammates, an unopened beer is placed on the ground. Teams take turns throwing the darts at the opponents’ beer on the other side. If the dart hits the beer, the beer must be “emptied” (you drink this) down to that hole. Once a can is emptied, replace with a new one. First team to get the opponents through three cans wins.
Hit the can three times and the team must drink the whole can.
Hit the top of the can and the team must drink the whole can.
Portable camping hammock- Self explanatory. Who doesn’t want to hang in the sun? Find ours here.
What is the best, yet worst smell in the world? Smelling like campfire. While camping, this is glorious and wonderful. Getting home and still smelling like campfire is disgusting and awful. Funny how the feelings about this smell can change so quickly.
But as you can see in the pictures above & below, camping is totally fun. There is so much to do. Just being outside in nature is good for your soul. It’s a relatively cheap way to spend some serious quality time with people you love. So go get our recommended items (trust us) and have the time of your life!