10. French Press I've tried instant. I've tried the percolator. I've tried forgoing, but nothing beats the French Press! It is also good for hurricane no power days. I can always muster up boiling water. Don't forget to pack the other essentials cream, sugar and a good bag of coffee. Plus hot coffee in the am ensures that your crew will love you.
9. Hammock Honestly you will survive without one, but camping and hanging out in the hammock make for the best day. Beware not all campsites let you actually use them in order to protect the trees. Also its cool to let your kids fall asleep in the hammock. They get a great nap or a story to tell.
8. Body of Water I've gone a week without s shower while camping, but that doesn't mean I've haven't had what a call a summer shower- a swim in a stream, a dip in the ocean, or a jump into a pool. I've spent many a day by the Little River in Elkmont watching my kid and her friends navigate the rapids. I've braved the 65 degree water. It's worth it. It is a must that I choose a site where I have access to swimming or floating and skipping a shower. Have I shared too much?
7. Games My family loves to play cards. My husband and I met playing Frisbee. We always have both on hand for downtime. We are also on the lookout for a cool badminton set that some camping neighbors had. Sometimes the best games are ones we create in the environment aka rock tower toppling. No devices allowed so game time can abound.
6. Dry Ice Again not a must, but if you haven't camped with dry ice in your cooler, you are missing out. Your food stays cold for days, frozen in some cases. I so hate having food floating in water in my cooler. The cardboard gets soggy and water leaks into the sandwich meat. Dry ice makes a great freezer layer and helps me keep from poisoning my camping crew.
5. Blankets I'm built for the cold. Alas my husband is not. I find it imperative to make sure he has enough blankets. Of course, the addition of the onesie in our camping gear has helped his skinny hide stay warm. I'm a notorious blanket thief too so the more blankets the merrier. I carry camping blankets and pillows in my car. You never know when you will be car camping.
4. Books My husband draws. My daughter and I read. We each have our hobbies. I don't like digital devices on the camp site so we make sure we have plenty of books to hangout in the hammock or linker with while in our sleeping bags in the am and pm.
3. Headlamps My friend Mary has always given me really cool headlamps or other lamps to light up my camping life. You can never have enough. I'll add batteries too. My husband played a nasty trick on me for my last camping by helpfully taking all the batteries out of the flashlights to avoid corrosion. Headlamps provide a great hands-free experience as you roam the camp in the dark. I especially like them when reading my aforementioned books.
2. Tarp or tent that doesn't leak Although my mantra is that it never rains when I camp, it has. Scarily so in some places. While camping, I have been known to move my kid and I into the car in the middle of the night to weather a Florida thunderstorm. I've been camping with friends who have found themselves in a literal waterbed, aka when their air mattress is floating on water. This is where investing in a good tent and seam sealing it count. Also don't leave it in the Florida humid garage or attic or it will dry rot and dry you will be not. Investing in a tarp to put over your tent can also ameliorate water damage too. There is nothing worse than camping with wet bedding. It never dries.
1. Good Company I love to camp with family and friends. I love to watch our kids bike around the camp ground carefree. I love to linger around the campfire at night laughing. I love just being with my people. Camping is a space that easily brings my friends and family from near far together and I carry those memories year-round, especially the laughing.
NOTE: Many of these items also double as my hurricane survival pieces. Notably number 10, 7, 6, & 3.