Figure in a half day to set up and another half day to tear down. (Maybe under 3 hours, if you're good at it.)
Ideal camping trip is three or four nights. Rodrigo says three nights.
Have an extra sleeping bag or quilt handy in case it gets cold in the middle of the night.
You really need to find your swiss army knife before the next time.
Don't forget pillows.
Rain entertainment should also be packed. (According to Zoe.)
The more stuff, the more to sort through to find what you need, the more delay in getting anywhere.
Having one bag for one category of stuff was useful. E.g. the "medicine cabinet" bag, the non-cooler food bag, etc. Do this with the rest of the items, so you won't lose the bottle opener again. (also see, swiss army knife.)
The Coleman forks that screwed together to be very long were great for hot dogs. I could cook five hot dogs at a time by holding them in the flames of a wood fire. No waiting for coals.
Don't use the Coleman forks for marshmallows. They stick terribly. Bring disposable wooden skewers for the marshmallows.
One packet of hot dogs was enough for one night. And next time remember lettuce.
Bring fruit. Apples, oranges, grapes--all were good.
The propane burner did come in handy. So next time bring something in which to boil water for tea, and some tea.
Freeze a carton or two of lemonade and put them in the cooler to defrost and drink. That would be more useful than the blocks of melted arsenic-contaminated tap water.
Food takes up a lot of room. Pack enough for the first night cookout and some stuff to nibble on for breakfast. After the first night, eat out. Or go grocery shopping while there.
I needed to take a vacation before my co-worker went away for a month. I did not want to spend more than the cost of a new Energy Star refrigerator, the item that has been topmost in my future large expenditure plans.
We bought a Coleman Bayside 8 tent for about $160 from Target. It's a roomy 8-person tent that we could stand up in. The four of us could sleep in it with our luggage around us. It wasn't stuffy, like the reasonable small tents I'd slept in before. It would have been nice to have more windows one could see through with the rainfly on, other than the two through the door. With the rainfly off, it is a good screen house. I can envision using it as a refuge from bugs in the backyard. Its best feature is a swinging door, which you can secure with Velcro when you and/or your kids are going in and out frequently. When you're in or out for a while, you can zip it shut like in a normal tent.
I wanted to visit Plimoth Plantation, so the first night we stayed in Miles Standish State Forest ($14). It was decent, though more of a getaway for the metro-Boston resident or budget-alternative to a hotel than a destination worth crossing state lines for. We were disappointed by trash left around the campground and in our campsite. There was also a lot of electronic noise from fellow campers. We had to listen to baseball until after the supposed quiet time of 10pm. One nice feature was a small pond within view of our campsite, where we could wade or even swim.
Before the trip, I'd looked at websites for different campgrounds near Plymouth MA and on Cape Cod. One of them, "Paine's" in Wellfleet had seemed very snooty. They had families with children segregated into a section separate from the all-grownup parties. After our first hour in Miles Standish listening to whiny and crying children from surrounding sites, I decided they had a point. After my darling child began bawling at the top of her lungs after 10pm, I conceded that our family was no exception.
It takes a while to get used to camping. I woke up in the middle of the night because I was too cold, then was woken too early by five-year-old Rafi. I tried to amuse her with a notebook and pen I fished out of my pocketbook.
"I'll write a story," said Rafi.
"Great," I said, and closed my eyes.
"Mommy, how do you spell 'Once'?"
"O-n-c-e, but I gave you the pen and notebook so you'd let me sleep. Just make up a spelling. It doesn't matter. Please let me sleep."
I closed my eyes.
"Mommy, how do you spell 'upon'?
I was zombie mommy and not in the mood to learn anything. We tubed Plimoth plans and headed for the beach.
We stayed at the Sweetwater Forest campground in Brewster MA ($32 times 3 nights). It's on a large plot of land that contains a picturesque marsh, sandpit, and pond. There were horses in a privately owned farm in the grounds, but they were not for the campers to ride. There was canoeing and fishing in the pond but not swimming. If you walked out onto the boat dock, you could see large turtles swimming in the pond. I think that's the first time I've seen large turtles in New England, outside of an aquarium.
The campground boasted a miniature golf course, but it was more of a collection of miniature putting greens. No windmill and no kitch--it wasn't proper miniature golf.
The water and electric hookup sites were somewhat close together but landscaped in a pleasant way. The tent/no-hookup sites were slightly more spaced. When we asked to stay an extra night and had to move, we got to stay in the "DLK" site, which was really beautiful--overlooking the pond in one direction and a small playground in another. It was also very secluded. I overheard someone saying "DLK" stood for "David L Klein". A websearch reveals he was a co-owner of the campground, who died in 1996.
We bought a sticker for the national seashore ($45). We went to the Marconi beach and had a great time riding waves in the seaweed. We went to the other two National Seashore beaches in the Provincetown area, but arrived late in the afternoon and found them cold. We drove through P-town with difficulty, and decided we needed to walk or bike there from somewhere else. We looked longingly at art galleries, then drove to the first pizza place on Route 6 that had parking. Very good pizza.