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Top Ten Random Camping Tips

As I wandered around the camping loop recently at a Virginia State Park I saw different camping styles from families with a trailer just for bikes and extra fun items to enjoy on their vacation, to meager campsites that were pretty much car camping. It made me wonder what little known things you may bring camping that helps enhance your visit to a Virginia State Park?

Top ten random camping tips


LED flashlights are something most of us didn't have growing up. In fact having a flashlight with working batteries was a boon! There was always drama as a kid as to "who would carry the flashlight" as that meant the rest of us were behind that person, trying to hide from any wild animal or big foot that would come screaming out of the darkness. But now there are glow sticks, and every kid can have one or a pack to themselves from a dollar store. 

If you want to be really clever, let the kids wear headlamps. These are economical and found at local hardware and variety/big box stores these days.


Write down your scavenger hunt list on a paper sack and hand those out to the kids to collect the items on the list! This way they will always have the list in hand, and the items in a carry sack. Or if you prefer to not touch the items, allow them to use digital camera or cell phone camera to have a photo only scavenger hunt. Click here for an example. See my list below:

Sample scavenger hunt


DIY changing enclosure by using a hula hoop and an old sheet with some laundry pins to close it while in use. Fishing line and using the hook on a pole found at your campsite for your lantern makes a great hanger for the hula hoop. For families with plenty of kids and a lack of space to change clothes or into swim suits this is a great idea. Click here for an example.


Now you can buy a canister of baby wipes that aren't for babies. You can get disinfectant wipes to wipe down any surface, which in my book means clean hands and faces! Leave them on the picnic table (as pictured above) so the kids can use them before and after meals and snacks.


This is a one pot dish our family always enjoys. In foil you place stew meat, chopped veggies, a stew seasoning mix packet and toss in a slice of bacon. Double or triple wrap it and place directly onto fire. After a short while you will hear the hissing and sizzling sounds and smell everything cooking and melding deliciously together. Be cautious getting it out of the fire as to not burst the foil open and spoil the stew!


They may not last a full week, but the low priced 72" inflatable floats make great air-mattresses for a weekend of camping! For less than $15 you can buy a pump to help inflate these in a jiffy and you can also use it on your campfire initially to get it started quicker! 

This is the sort of float that works great as an air-mattress as well in your tent!


I recently encountered what I termed "Costco Campers."  It was a large group of families camping together and although they were tent camping and roughing it for the most part, I have never seen so much food in my life! Ready-made food you could toss onto the Coleman stove or on top of the campfire grate. I thought it wasn't real camping at first but then it occurred to me, it was the same as the one-pot cooking we always try to achieve. Perhaps a smaller assortment of goodies we prefer to cook ourselves, but Costco and Sam's Club make an ideal one stop shop for camping in large groups! If you prefer to BYO ready-made food, our family has pre-made our own one pot cooking meal, such as fried rice. We have the rice premade and a frozen package of stir fry veggies and add diced "whatever meat you choose" and one or two eggs and soy sauce or teriyaki sauce. This can all be made ahead of time (not cooked) and placed in a large container or zip lock bag, and it is ready to cook! 


Have you ever noticed just how strong dental floss is? One small container in your pocket of dental floss has many uses in the great outdoors. From an emergency repair to strap the tarp up over your tent in a thunderstorm, to filet a fish or cut something! Don't underestimate the strength and power of simple dental floss! 


These are great bee repellents while camping. If you are like our family, once we cut a watermelon, or have a few sodas lying around the bees find us! Place a few Bounce Dryer Sheets here and there, especially near your food prep/picnic table to deter bees! Word on the street is that the U.S. Postal Service recommends their carriers use these dryer sheets be placed in their uniform pockets while on routes. 


Not only will this be a great source of chilling for your igloo/cooler, but will provide fresh chilled water for the first couple days of camping as it melts. We learned after many years of camping that two coolers vs one was the best bet to keep the lid closed on the food cooler and allow the kids access to the cold drinks cooler! As a Mom, I use a small piece of duct tape over the handle of the food cooler as a simple reminder to keep the little hands out of it, so the food stays cold.

Camping at Virginia State Parks


Published: 07/11/2014

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