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camping essentials + free packing list

Traditions are important to me. I grew up with traditions, some that I have continued on with my husband and kids, and some new traditions that we have created of our own. I have the best memories of tent camping growing up and want my kids to have the same. This was our second annual tent camping trip as a family, and although the trip didn’t go as planned, we had a great time and loved having our good friends come along.

With 60 wild fires that are currently burning in California, the air quality has been pretty poor. We planned to camp at Lake Alpine and called up the Friday before we left. I was told it was beautiful weather up there, and that the smoke was not a problem. Monday morning, we loaded up the car and began our drive. Lake Alpine is about a two-hour drive from our house, but as we got closer the smoke grew thicker, with visibility becoming less and less. Once we got up there we all agreed that it was way too smoky to set up camp, so we called an audible and continued on to Lake Tahoe, which is one of our favorite places of all time. However, we had never tent camped there before. We went to three different campgrounds and were told that they were all full. We got to the fourth and they were also full, but they were so kind and called the William Kent Campground, about ten-minutes down the road, and had them reserve their last spot for us! I’m sure they saw the desperation on our faces, as we had been in the car with the three little boys and a dog for over six hours! We probably heard “are we there yet” two hundred times!

While we planned to get to our campsite at Lake Alpine around lunchtime we ended up setting up camp in North Lake Tahoe around dinnertime. Even with the change of plans and the detour we had to take, we had a great time! We were definitely over-packed, as the weather we planned for at Alpine was significantly cooler then Tahoe’s weather. It was a warm 80 degrees during the day and cooled down to the low 60’s at night. We swam in the lake, visited our favorite candy shop, collected pinecones and ate tons of s’mores.

Whenever we go camping I usually pre-plan and prep most of our meals so they are ready to just throw on the fire. But this trip we decided to “glamp” it a little by bringing our amazing Blackstone Griddle. Jon has perfected his specialty burgers for his family’s restaurant, and he cooked them one night for us. They were SO good! Another night for dinner we cooked Aidell’s Sausage along with some veggies and homemade mac n cheese. The griddle allowed us to easily cook bacon, eggs and pancakes for breakfasts. Bringing this griddle made cooking delicious meals super easy, especially if you have a large crowd. It’s not overly large, and is pretty easy to transport if you have a truck.

In today’s hi-tech world I think that it is important to get away from it all as often as possible. It helps to allow our kid’s creative minds to grow by having no TV, video games or even toys. We had so much fun watching them play with sticks as light sabers and create their own made-up games with pine cones. On the drive home the boys were playing virtual “Fortnite”, and not the video game kind. They were using their imagination and communication skills to work together and conquer whatever the heck it is they do in the ridiculous world of Fortnite.

It was really refreshing to be completely unplugged for two days, no cell phones, social media, email or phone calls. I want to start unplugging one day every week, do you think you could do it?



Hi, I’m Bethany!

I’m a mom of four who thrives on coffee and exercise. I am saved by Grace and happily married to my best friend, Jon. Here I hope you find community and inspiration for fitness and…life. I am happy you are here!

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