Camping for Teens: How to Prepare for Your First Trip

Izzy Perry18 Mar, 2024

A group of teens stands around a bonfire at a beach

Signing up for your first camping trip as a teenager can feel like a daunting choice. You might have questions about how things are going to work. What are you going to eat? What clothes should you bring? How are you going to sleep comfortably? These questions would be important on any teen travel trip, but when you’re going camping, it’s even more essential to know how to prepare.

These are our top tips for how to get ready for your first camping trip.

The Best Clothing for Camping

When preparing to live outdoors, having the right clothes goes a long way towards making you comfortable in the elements. Each Bold Earth program has a trip-specific packing list customized to the location you’ll be camping in and the weather you can expect. That being said, there are a few universal tips that are important for any camping trip.

Choose wool over cotton. Wool clothing has the ability to keep you cool in hot weather and warm when it gets chilly. In a tropical downpour in Costa Rica or summer storm in Iceland, wool will keep you warm and comfortable when it gets wet. Wool isn’t just for wet and cold environments, either. Consider a wool t-shirt for warm weather camping and even a wool long sleeve for keeping your skin safe from the rays. These layers will wick sweat away and stay stink-free much longer than cotton or synthetics.

Think about sun protection, no matter your destination. The American Academy of Dermatology estimates 1 in 5 Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetimes. On a camping trip, you’ll be spending most of your time outside, soaking up sunshine. Instead of worrying about lathering sunscreen constantly, add a sun hoodie to your packing list. A lightweight, long sleeve layer keeps your skin feeling cooler, even in the heat. It also protects from UV radiation, making sure you don’t get sunburned. You might not have many chances to rest indoors, so taking care of your skin is essential to having a great first camping trip.

Sleep Like a Baby at Any Campsite

Sleep can be a stress point for teenagers on their first camping trip. Disrupting normal nighttime routines can affect the quality of your sleep. Sleeping outdoors also introduces new nighttime noises and sensations, which can make falling asleep more difficult than at home.

Try making your own improvised pillow. Lay out your puffiest layer (a down or synthetic jacket is ideal). Fold the arms into the midline. Roll the jacket up from the bottom and tuck it into its own hood. Wrap your softest layer around the bundle (a fleece or wool shirt is great). Enjoy a better night’s rest.

Stay warm while you’re sleeping. Being too cold in your tent is a sure path to broken sleep. Get cozy by drinking plenty of fluids throughout the day to stay hydrated. This helps maintain good blood flow, keeping your fingers and toes warm. Use the bathroom twice before crawling into your sleeping bag. It’s important to pee before sleeping so your body doesn’t have to use extra energy warming the fluid inside your body. Keep your warmest pair of socks at the bottom of your sleeping bag as your sleeping socks. They’ll stay dry and clean throughout the trip and you’ll always have something cozy to pull on.

Get Ready for Delicious Camp Meals

Two girls stand behind a pizza cooking over an open fire with a metal grate over it.
Cooking outdoors can be just as fun as at home… Maybe more!

Food is a huge part of our culture on any Bold Earth camping trip. You don’t need to be an experienced cook or know how to use a camp stove before arriving. Meal planning and camp cooking are part of the skills we teach on a Bold Earth program. While on a camping trip, the campers are in charge of making meals. You’ll be part of a team of campers who get to plan and execute their own menu.

If you have a specific dietary requirement, you can rest easy knowing that the trip leaders will work with you to accommodate what you need. Because the majority of our meals are homemade, there’s a lot of flexibility with what you can cook and eat.

Curious about what some creative meal options might look like? Check out this list of vegan camping meals or these gluten free camp recipes. Cooking outside can be just as creative as cooking in your own kitchen.

Don’t Overpack Your Bag

As tempting as it might be to bring a change of clothes for each day of your trip, overpacking can actually make camping less pleasant than just having what you need. Trust the trip-specific packing list. These lists are honed with decades of camping and travel experience, as well as feedback from all the campers who came before you.

Changing clothes less frequently than at home is normal on a camping trip. You’ll be able to wash your clothes at least once during your trip, but preparing yourself for wearing the same outfit three or four days in a row will help save you the hassle of an overpacked bag.

Bringing only what you need will save you the trouble of lugging heavy bags from campsite to campsite. It will also make a little space to bring home a souvenir of your trip. It might not seem like a big deal, but on Bold Earth trips you’ll be moving quickly and frequently. There’s a lot to see and even more to do!

Get Into the Camping Mindset

Bringing the right attitude is just as important as packing the right gear. Life in the outdoors is incredibly rewarding, but it comes with challenges you won’t find if you stay inside. Things like wet weather and mosquitos can be frustrating, but going through hard times is much easier if you have a positive attitude. Overcoming challenges is one reason people fall in love with camping.

On your first camping trip as a teen, be prepared to get a little uncomfortable. Your trip leaders and other campers are there to help you with tips and skills, but they’re also there to laugh with you when things go wrong. Learning from your mistakes and keeping an open mind are essential for making your first camping trip an unforgettable experience.

Four boys blow bubbles in front of orange tents set up at a campsite



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