This month's Family Day is a bit easier kind of camping than we usually do. Normally we hike into a spot and camp, which requires a good deal of specialized equipment, but this time you're going to be camping a few feet from your car, so you'll be a bit more comfortable and have easy access to things that don't fit well into a back pack.
The first thing you need to know about the campsite is that it is "primitive", and by that we mean no plumbing or electricity. One couple who are participating in this years event has a chemical toilet and are providing it for everybody to use, but you should bring your own toilet paper. Put it in a zip-lock bag to keep it from getting wet from rain or dew.
A folding chair is a good thing to have, as well as a folding table, or a small non-folding table. There are no picnic tables at Neiderhoffer. You're just looking for something to put your plate on besides your lap. The chair should be light enough for you to comfortably drag it around the camp. There's going to be a lot of visiting with other folks. The sun moves, and that means the shade does too, and there's going to be times when you're going to want to move out of smoke coming from the campfire.
One of the most useful camping items to own is a bandanna. Keep it in your pocket or tie it around your neck. They have too many uses to list here.
A small battery operated fan is a good idea, and so is a flashlight. Bring extra batteries for everything that requires them. Walmart sells some very inexpensive fans designed to be hung inside a tent, and this is where you should use it the most. Any flashlight will do, but a headlamp is one of the more useful forms of light at night as it allows you to use both hands.
A big floppy hat is a very good idea. It will keep the sun off of you and will deflect ticks. You should bring some DEET based insect repellent, but use it only on your skin as it has an ingredient that is harmful to synthetic fabrics. Sunscreen is a good idea as well.
A pair of flip-flops or Crocs is a good idea for walking around camp, and into the water. There's no "beach" at the lake, so if you go in you should have protection on your feet.
Bring all medicines your are currently taking, as well as some aspirin and a small first aid kit. You don't need to be able to do surgery, just some antiseptic wipes, band-aids and gauze pads. Inform on of the Leaders of any medical conditions of which the should be aware, and keep a card with the phone numbers and e mail addresses of people who should be contacted in an emergency in your wallet or pocket at all times
Water. Bring lots. My personal rule is that if I bring water home I've brought enough water. I generally bring a case or two of the 16 oz water bottles AND a gallon jug or two. A cooler to keep it and other food items in is a good idea. Ice cubes in the cooler is not the best way to keep things cold as that generally means the stuff in your cooler gets waterlogged as it melts. (you have no idea what can get ruined after being waterlogged). One or two of those blue ice things is good, and along with those I freeze about half my water and put the frozen bottles in the cooler. These do the same thing as ice cubes do and provide you with a good source of really cold water for a couple of days. At the beginning of the day, I'll toss a couple of unfrozen water bottles into the cooler and drink them. Try to avoid sugary drinks, and alcoholic beverages is actually a bad idea in the heat.
You'll need to bring food enough for the following meals: Breakfast, lunch, and snacks for every morning you're going to wake up out there except Sunday (we'll be leaving before lunch on Sunday). To keep things simple, these should be "ready to eat" meals that don't require cooking (its going to be hot outside). I usually bring Pop Tarts for breakfast. For lunch I bring tortillas and have peanut butter and jelly tacos. Healthy snacks are great, Go Go Squeeze or other similar fruit is fast and easy, and I really love getting some of those Mandarin Orange fruit cups to put in the cooler first thing in the morning for a quick, cold snack. Dried fruit like raisins, apricots, etc. are also great. I find it convenient to "graze" on snacks all day long. Friday night and Saturday night are going to be Pot Luck Fellowship dinners, so bring something to contribute to that effort.
Its a good idea to bring food that doesn't need to be kept cold, and stay right away from anything with mayonnaise in it. All your food should be in some kind of seal-able box or bag, and to hang it from a tree to keep it away from ants and mice. If you have an extra cooler, these make fairly good places to put food for that purpose that don't need to be hung from a tree to get the job done. I use one of those big buckets that kitty litter comes in.
If you're going on the hike, make sure your shoes are up to the task. There are plenty of opportunities for short walks in the immediate vicinity of where we'll be camping, but if you don't have good hiking shoes, or if you have brand new ones that haven't been broken in, you shouldn't go on the Saturday hike. There's nothing more miserable than finding out you have a blister half way into a hike.
If you're being loaned a hammock, a light weight sheet might be a good idea. Even in the summer you can get chilled at night, and most of the time a simple cotton or silk sheet will be all you need. You might not use it, but if you need it and don't have it, you'll be uncomfortable. A pillow is also a good idea. If you're bringing your own shelter, a pad and light sleeping bag are good things to have.
You need at least one pair of socks for each day you'll be waking up out there, and I always bring at least one extra pair besides. A change of underwear for each day is a good thing, and jammies for sleeping. Nobody will be making fashion judgments out there, so you can wear the same clothes each day. Bring a sack to put your dirty clothes in. If you want to swim, you might want to bring a swim suit.
Rain gear is a good idea, either a poncho, rain suit, or umbrella will work. We'll have some covered areas that folks can sit under in the event of any rainfall.