In 2019, 9.3 million Brits either went camping or caravanning and in a post Covid reality, domestic tourism is becoming a more realistic option for many who want to escape from their day to day to slow down with nature. And it makes sense.
Many pick camping because it is exciting to try and live with no reliance and completely disconnected from our busy fast paced realities and because you will always return with memories and a deeper connection to the people who you shared the experience with.
Camping can be a relaxing, mindful way to immerse yourself in the natural world. Sitting in ancient woodland and smelling the air and the silence of the country are some of those things that make you feel immensely more connected to God.
But the inaccessibility of camping or the perceptions of what a camper “looks like” can hold some of us back in taking a trip out into nature. We know that many of us worry that away from the bright lights and the big cities, we will not be safe out in the wilderness as Muslim women.
So here is our beginner guide to camping, brought to you by Black Girls Camping Trip. We hope to help get you started with your first camping trip!
1. Finding your campsite
For the London-based folks (sorry), you may be surprised to know there are campsites located a stone’s throw away in Crystal Palace, Chingford, Epping, SevenOaks and Chertsey you can still get away for a few days in nature in a way that is accessible by train and close to home.
Booking a spot in a campsite is cheap, at around £7 to £35 per day, and can be easily done online. Most basic grass campsites come with amenities such as flushing toilets, showers and parking. The campsites toward the higher price range will boast more services such as wifi access, electric hookups, nearby shops and laundry facilities.
Depending on the location of your campsite, you can decide to pitch your tents nearby a lake, beach or at the bottom of a mountain and get lost in the surrounding landscape.
Camping is a great family friendly activity and many campsites specify if they are suited for families with options such as playgrounds, swimming facilities and spaces for a BBQ available. It would be helpful to select these options to filter through the directory of camping sites available to find the right one for you when planning a getaway for you and your family.
Once you have this sorted, the next step is to get your camping equipment and secure your transport.
2. Packing the essentials
So once you have booked a place on a camping retreat or a space at a campsite, the first thing you will need are your camping essentials. You will need:
Tents are usually designed with the idea you’re bringing the bare minimum, so a ‘one-man tent’ is usually only enough space for you and your thoughts. We’d advise a 2 man tent to have a place for your bags to be kept inside and space to stretch out at night. (For those of us who like to shadow box in our dreams, it’s a must)
If you’re sharing, double up the capacity! My friend and I took a 4 man tent to Croatia for 6 days of camping at Outlook festival and it was perfect, we each had our own section for our stuff and enough space to chill and sleep comfortably.
These items can all be found at outlets like Decathlon, GoOutdoors and other online retailers. And because all of these items are investments, once you buy them, you will have the freedom to reuse them and camp to your heart’s content.
Now you have all the essentials for camping, have a campsite space booked or your hiking route with a general idea of where you would like to stop for the night, here are some other items you may need:
3. If you’re feeling extra
Your tent is essentially your home away from home so how about some tips to make it your own? There’s no such thing as overdoing it when it comes to your comfort.
(AKA tarpaulins are a sheet/cover which can be used in many ways to protect persons and things from wind, rain, and sunlight). Trust me, there’s nothing worse than a wet or overheated tent. Tarps work like a gazebo for your tent, so this can also be utilised as a shady spot to read or hang out outside of your tent.
A camping mattress(or yoga mat) is a must! Most ground is uneven and uncomfortable to lie directly on. For an extra layer, you can pack a single duvet to lie on. And to add some extra aesthetic or a romantic feel, draping muslin blankets around your mattress makes for the tent interior of your Pinterest dreams.
Water bottle lanterns are a quick and fun way to light up any area, simply stick a glow stick in a half-full water bottle and voila. (Particularly useful for marking out the way for those midnight toilet trips)
Alternatively, battery-powered LED string lights can be hung inside your tent (use glue dots or masking tape to reduce risk of tears)
Solar-powered lanterns are a great option too to clearly mark and differentiate your tent.
Summer or not, we’re still in England. Please don’t underestimate how cold it can get at night, especially if it’s your first time camping. USB heated shawls are a great portable heating solution. Just make sure your power banks are fully charged.
Mylar blankets: have a foil-like covering and reflect heat back onto your body, place it on your sleeping bag or mattress to keep the warmth in, or even use it as a blanket to make use of your own body heat. (Think human sushi roll)
Heat pads: Small but powerful, place some of these near the foot of your sleeping bag to keep your feet cosy. For extra warmth, hold another against your chest while you sleep.
Nature is beautiful, but it can also be unpredictable and LOUD. Also, you will be sharing the campsite with others who may not have the same sleeping schedule as you. So to keep your peace of mind, pack some earbuds!
Portable Camping Chair
This one is pretty self-explanatory. For many, it’s a must have item on their camping list, for others sitting on the floor in between activities works just fine. You’ll be everyone’s best mate if you do decide to pack a chair though because let’s be honest, it’s probably a lot more comfortable than the floor!
4. Pitching your tent
Okay so you’re packed fairly lights and sleeping bag in toe. You’re ready to pitch your tent!
Strategic Spot For Your Tent
This one is simple. Find the flattest ground with minimal bumps, rocks and soft grass. We know that sounds a bit long and you may look weird wandering around touching up the ground, but your sleep may quite literally depend on it hun.
Remember, if you’re prone to using the restroom at night choose a spot with an easy and accessible route because there’s nothing worse than being disoriented in the middle of a field and needing to pee…
And finally, if there’s some chatty neighbours in the shared campsite you think might interfere with your rest try and set your tent away from them if possible.
Fend Off Bugs and Pests
You know when you accidentally leave your window open before going to bed and you wake up to a room full of the cast of A Bugs Life? Well imagine that but in a smaller confined space of a tent. Yeah, no thanks.
Avoid this by making sure there are no holes in your tent! Lavender, bug spray and citronella can help too.
If you’re snacking in your tent, make sure you dispose of all wrapper and crumbs. Not only is it good campsite etiquette but you’ll appreciate not sharing your belongings with wildlife as well.
5.What to eat!
Whether you want to eat dry, easy-to-prep foods or want to wake up to a hot meal, thinking about how you are going to eat when camping in a spot with minimal amenities is a must. It is important to consider if you want to bring along a small cheap portable gas stove and a pot or want to pack dry foods options that you know won’t spoil if left for a few days in a dry bag.
Camping Cooking Gear
If you’re planning to prepare some of your own meals, it’s best to make sure you have all of the utensils you need. Having your own mini cookware could make the world of difference. When bought as a compact set it will include things like a knife, scissors, a cutting board all in a water-resistant case. This will not only make it easy to carry but will also ensure all of your cooking things are kept in one place – what a dream!
For hot food, a small gas stove will only require butane canisters for refills. These come with safety features but it might be helpful to watch a YouTube tutorial on how to fill one up properly before you handle the fuel.
Trangia is the go to brand for many campers as their compact and easy to use (and carry) cooking set means that once you invest in a set, you will be able to reuse their no-fuss cookware to cook for a single person or for a large group with ease.
A hot breakfast especially after a chilly night can feel like a God send so really consider whether you want to ditch this option as you are planning for your trip.
Lastly, we try not tryna miss out on the fire and s’mores we see in every film and tv show when white folk are camping. Bring your halal/vegan marshmallows sis and enjoy your camping trip!
6. Solo Enthusiasts
Yet, despite any enthusiasm you may have about camping, hiking and other outdoors activities, we all know that organising the group chat to get a date in might mean you never actually get round to doing the damn thing.
For the solo enthusiasts, camping retreats might be the one for you as it will allow you to have the enjoyment of the outdoors but with the security of a large group of like minded folk. You can find our bundles here, with a little something for everyone.
Black Girls Camping Trip was set up just for this. We are a Muslimah-friendly camping retreat for Black women and non-binary people. BGCT offers a slow activity pathway for those who want to spend time quietly connecting to the natural world and healing from mental stress. With sessions for yoga, art, knitting and skin care, it is a perfect place to meet fellow Black Muslim women who appreciate camping and the outdoors and want to get away from the city for a few days in August.
BGCT is also friendly to your pockets. We offer a cheap alternative to most women only retreats as tickets are priced at £35 and we are very conscious of making our trip accessible to the many of us who are from working class communities. Our activity sessions and hot food are add-on extras and are also affordably priced.
Join us Black Girls Camping Trip as a camper in 2021!
For BGCT 2021, the team plan to organise a fajr jama’ah for our Muslim attendees for Saturday and Sunday morning. Our attendees will be woken up for fajr and signposted to our wudu facilities. At the annual camping trip, vegan options for food will also be offered so you won’t have to worry about catering for yourself.
See our full Muslimah camping guide to learn more about how BGCT is dedicated to making sure Muslims can enjoy the outdoors free from the stress of navigating your faith in a new environment.
For more information about Black Girls Camping Trip visit here, for FAQs visit here
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By Ashiya Mendheria