Papa Phillips and the family in 2002.

Camping Guide

Camping Style

We’ve noticed that some campers are basically indoor folks, staying in their vehicle and rarely do you see them sitting around the campfire or cooking outdoors.  The Davis Family are outdoor camping folks, and the only time you’ll see us inside our camper is when we are sleeping.  From the time we get up to the time we go to sleep we’re outside cooking, eating, playing, joking around, and pretending we can sing – regardless of the weather.

In case of Rain

2009 MAY MEMORIAL DAY 2009 020
Shimmying up the trees to tie the dining tarp.

At some point on almost every camping trip we will have rain.  We usually have a separate kitchen area that we cover with a 20ft by 16ft tarp with a center ridge-line.  For our eating area we usually put 5 picnic tables under a huge 30ft by 16ft plastic tarp.  We tie a 40-50ft 1/2-inch diameter rope between two trees as a ridge-line so that the tarp won’t bow as much.

Tarp over the Fire

Tarp over our campfire
Tarp over our campfire

During our 2003 Memorial Day campout at Promised Land State Park, it rained hard the entire weekend.  We learned a new trick – extending another large tarp high over the campfire.  We’ve done this at every Memorial Day campout ever since.

We use an inexpensive 20’x15′ poly tarp (5mil) that we get from Lowe’s.  The tarp takes a beating from sparks and smoke and won’t last forever.  The tarp will quickly pick up a very smokey smell, and cannot be used for any other purpose.  Its very important to hang it high – at least 12 feet above the fire.  We can usually get it as high as 20ft up by having the boys stand on each other’s shoulders, ,or on top of the truck.

We use the same ridgeline technique as we do for our eating area.  We extend a 1/2 inch diameter rope between two trees.  When doing this its also important to tie another rope from the center grommet to the tree to keep the tarp from slipping towards the middle and to help with side-to-side movement.  It makes a huge difference being able to cook and to continue to gather around the campfire without having to worry about the rain.

In 2007 we also added a separate dining tarp that we use for dutch-oven cooking without fear of rain.  Since there is limited flame involved, this is a normal dining tarp.

Brian, Eric, and I think that’s Steve Kelley on top – in 2009.

In 2009, we tried a new technique.  I guess this only works if you’ve got enough young men who are strong or who did power lifting in high school.  They climbed on each others shoulders – and just stood up.  It worked great!

At right, Brian and Eric, who were both power-lifters in high school, stand on each others shoulders to get the ridge-line higher.  The boys then stood up to get the ridge-line as high as possible. This was 2009. They are older now and are smart enough to bring a ladder.

Beginning in 2010 we started bringing a collapsible extension ladder so we can tie the ropes up high without having people standing on each other’s shoulders.  It worked great and doesn’t rely as much on strong young men.