Ways to camp smart this Memorial Day weekend

By WEEK Reporter

May 25, 2014 Updated May 26, 2014 at 9:41 AM CDT

BRIMFIELD, Ill. -- Memorial Day weekend is a popular time to enjoy the outdoors. But if you do not know what you're doing, it could be a miserable time.

Camping veterans are weighing in on ways to camp smart for beginning campers.

First, Champaign resident Tonya Clausing loves to be outside.

"It's relaxing. You get up at 7:12 in the morning, the sun is shining, you're hanging out with your friends getting ready to cook some eggs and bacon and you know. Today is going to be a good day," said Clausing.

She and her husband Tom are one of eight couples on this weekend getaway at Jubilee College State Park. Most of them have known each other since high school and have come together since.

These are veteran campers. They know the tricks of the trade.

"Preparation is definitely important. You got to be comfortable when you sleep," said Tom.

"Several people brought air mattresses, and I was like 'That's not camping! Who brings air mattresses when camping!' And this year I was like, 'Did you bring your air mattress? because that's smart.' " laughed Urbana Resident Megan Barber.

Camping smart starts with some common sense.

"If you have a four person tent and a queen size air mattress, you have to blow the mattress up inside the tent because it will not fit through the door," explained Lincoln Resident Sarina Wetzel.

And you can't forget about how you are going to eat.

"We make a Google doc," said Tonya. "Who wants breakfast, who wants lunch. It makes it easier. Everyone contributes and we all bring snacks."

A portable propane grill makes cooking a lot easier, especially if you do not know how to make a fire. But, perhaps the most important part isn't what you packed.

"It's all about hanging out with people you enjoy being with, so as long as you're with that group then you'll probably have fun no matter what," said Tom.