Saturday, May 31, 2008

Ideas to Cut Expenses, Part 4 camping/tents

This brings me to the next idea. Camping. (note, the links are almost all videos and not good for dial-up users. They will take a month of Sundays to load.)

Come on, Mama, camping costs a LOT of money for the equipment. NOPE.

Learn to think outside of the box. Pretend the world has come to an end and what's in your house or can be found in nature is all you have to work with. Then involve your family. Most kids are really good at thinking laterally. Especially little ones. I'm serious. Talk to the under 6 set and ask them what they would do. You'll be surprised at the answers they'll give you.

You really, truly, don't need a tent. For true. I've used a tarp - spent 28 days in the high Uinta Mountains with one. Ok, I was taking a "Youth Leadership" class that just happened to be subtitled "Desert/alpine survival", but hey, none of us died due to getting rained on or having to sleep under the tarp. And actually it wasn't really a tarp. It was just a piece of plastic that was about 8'x8'. Yup, just plain old 4-7 mil plastic sheeting. Like what you'd use to cover a large living room window opening - the openings that have two windows side by side. Visquene (sp) is what I had to use. And like the first link shows, we used rocks to hold it down.

This week, I bought a tarp for my Scouter son. Since he camps in all kinds of weather, I got a heavy-duty tarp that had a silver side that reflects heat. That one cost about $20 for an 8x10, tarp - if you get a good tarp from the blue and white home building people. (Which is where I found mine.) Mine is double-sided, brown on one side and silver on the other. The duel sides are really useful. Face the silver side away from you and it will reflect the heat. Face it towards you and it will reflect body heat and campfire heat. There are videos on some of the many ways to set up a tarp for covering. It's mostly done with ropes instead of tent poles. But you can go to your local military surplus store or Army/Navy store and find old poles that went to Army tents. You can buy replacement poles meant for existing tents. You can use dowel rods, show curtain rods, tension rods, old broom/equipment handles, ski poles, or any other straight things to hold the tent up. You can use any sticks you find. Unless you live/camp where there is just NO trees, you can improvise the "tent pole(s)" on site. Lots of choices - ask the kids.

You can also get cheaper tarps and smaller tarps. (The two my son took were both cheap ones from Wallyworld. We have found that the tarps are a lot lighter than a regular tent. My son has a new tent that someone gave him for Christmas last year. He had a winter camp out with the Scouts and I sent him with the 2 older tarps I had. One for a ground cloth and one for the "tent". While the other Scouts had to hike the 10 miles with heavy tents, even with 2 tarps his pack weighed less. And it rained. He was the only one who was dry during the night.

A couple of sites to get you started are:
This one
This one shows a really easy way to set up.
This one shows a tarp similar to the one I got. There are 4 sections to this one. I enjoyed watching them. Since I first started this post I contacted Dave to see if he had a tarp kit that he spoke about posted on his website. He did not, but since I asked about it, he put up a 2 kits. They are complete, but to me, they are a bit expensive. A 7'x7' tarp set is $80 and an 8'x10' is $95.
That's a bit too rich for my blood. I know that Italian blankets are about $35 alone, plus another $15 for the tarp. I have found wool blankets cheaper on the internet and for most of us, we don't need wool blankets to summer camp. For my Scouter son, I'm tempted to invest money on a wool blanket. His troop camps in all weather. For the rest of us looking for frugal camping, the blanket off the bed will work. I'd bring along another blanket "just in case".
This one makes it seem like you have to be afraid to use tarps or be a math expert, but he does have some good safety tips and designs. Not a video, but a PDF file.

Knot tying videos:
Some knots from a Scout troop.
More knots.

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