I used to go camping constantly as a kid. In fact, I loved it so much my parents would actually set up the pop-up camper in our backyard when we weren’t so I could sleep out there and play in it. While some families pack up and go away to fancy Dirty Dancing like resorts, we filled up the pop-up and headed over the the murky brown Pymatuning Lake every summer for a couple weeks. It had everything we needed – a beach, fire pits, warm(ish) public showers and best of all – no bears.
Well, it did have skunks and a big joke was once when my step dad painted a milk carton with black stripes and put it on a long rope. Then at night as I was coming back from the showers they yelled skunk and I saw that thing racing from the other side of the fire pit and almost peed my pants.
Since then, I’ve gone pretty city. I travel a lot but it’s definitely not in campers let alone tents. No matter how desolate, there is still typically wifi.
But lately, and maybe it’s age, but I’ve been getting back into my roots. Reading books like Hillbilly Elegy and spending a lot of time biking in the Hamptons and hiking in Vermont has taken me into a old-found love of being outdoors again.
Then I heard about TENTRR.
I saw the email at first and thought, hmmmm. Air B and B for camping? Land owners can let up these private little off-the-ground tents that come with beds, a campfire, chairs and a picnic table on their property as long as it’s (1) privately hidden and (2) on around 10 acres of land. Oh, they also have outdoor potties and sun showers. Sounds like an adventure so I signed up and next thing I knew we were packed and heading to the Catskills.
Here’s what happened when we tried TENTRR.
How to book:
It’s just like Air B and B – you go to the website and choose dates you want to camp and where, and it will show you availability. There will be photos of the campsites to choose from, background on the land owner, and the cool part – every campsite is different! You can pick one that is set up in the woods, on a mountainside with views, with a private swimming pond etc. There are so many beautiful options, it might be hard to pick a spot! Here is the one we chose to try first: Davis Hallow Mountain Meadow. Rates are just like any other room you might rent averaging around $100/night.
What to expect:
– the large dome tent with a queens-size bed (off the ground on a platform!)
– fire pit and wood (and paper to burn – but bring a lighter just in case!)
– metal grill to cook on
– two adirondack chairs
– sun shower and outdoor potty
– 5 gallons of water (for cleaning, etc. bring extra water for drinking!)
– Each site offers different add-ons. For an small extra fee ($30), you can also upgrade to have all your cooking gear provided (recommended!) such as a percolator (for coffee!), plates and mugs and utensils and maybe if you’re lucky like us, your camp owner is a chef and leaves you all kids of herbs and spices to cook with! Some sites even offer guided hikes/lunches!
The great outdoors.
This is no joke off-the-grid camping. Depending on your site you may be pretty far away from civilization and that means there is no wifi, no cell service and no electric once it gets dark. Personally, we were only about 15 min. away from town and a hospital (to ease your mind), but it was straight out in the woods on the mountain with no one around for miles. You’re in the wild with animals (we didn’t see any but cyowolves howling at the moon the first night did make my hair stand up). So bring your aloneness and enjoy nature.
What do you do all day?
That’s really your preference. We love to head out and explore the area, go fishing, hiking and learn the history of the area. But really, your campsite has everything so you don’t have to leave at all! Our camp was even stocked with games if it happened to rain, and I also brought a book to read.
There is so much to do in the great outdoors and the Catskills is jam packed with great activities from swimming to fishing to hiking to just site seeing. It’s seriously a Henry David Thoreau novel out there. I’ll do a detailed future post on the Catskills area and what do to there, so watch for that to come.
Nothing will be more beautiful.
Than waking up to the dew and and silence of the forest when you first pop your head out in the am. I thought it was remarkable how many lion spider webs were in the grass that could only now be seen covered in dew. I recommend bringing those Starbucks Via instant coffees. You literally boil some water and have coffee in a few min to sip in your chair and just take it all in.
Don’t be a girl.
Trust me – leave the scented hair products and curling irons at home. The last thing you want are bugs swarming to you more than they are already are. And where are you plugging in that hot iron? Bring a hair tie and/or a hat and call it a weekend. And really – you aren’t going to shower for a couple days so accept it. And it will be FINE!
Meet the locals.
Being in a new town lets you go explore. One of my favorite things is talking to the locals and finding the best spots – from fishing to eating to hiking. And guess what, your camp owner is one so ask them what the best things to do are. By chatting them all up, we found Prime Rib night at a local country club, one of the best hiking trails, and even heard about a local forest festival that was happening in a town near us that we got to stop by!
Don’t be afraid – I’ve learned that mountain people are some of the nicest people around – from the Poconos to Catskills I’ve rarely had an encounter that wasn’t awesome. PS – this guy above even ended up being the top angler in the area! You never know who you will meet and what nuggets of info they will share. And get this – we even saw TENTRR at the Catskills Forest Festival that we found out about.
There isn’t a Cabella’s down the road so bring your necessities. Hiking (waterproof!) boots, warm sleeping bags (it gets cold at night!), bug spray (the dreaded tick season), an electric lantern (was great at night in the tent!), and plenty of water. Maybe some toilet paper haha. Here is the list we packed:
– lighter and lighter fluid
– toilet paper
– hiking boots
– belt to hang your leatherman.
– goTenna mesh – this lets you stay in touch with each other if you get lost without cell service!
– a good waterproof backpack.
– water bottles. plural. I love mobots cause I can roll on them after a long hike too.
– bug spray! and more bug spray. You’ll shower in this more than an actual shower. I love guardian because it’s deet-free and hasn’t let me down yet. No bites!
– Solar power! It’s easy to find all this on Amazon – we have a solar charging station, solar powered lights, you name it.
– a warm blanket. Rumplr is my new favorite. It’s lightweight, pretty and will KEEP YOU WARM. Trust me.
– utility knife. because sometimes you’re gonna have to be macguyver.
– bear spray. Yes I am serious. Catskills are bear country and you just never know what you might encounter out there.
Wait – Maybe you WANT a TENTRR??
If you have land, maybe you are ready to set up a TENTRR. It’s really a great idea – you don’t want people in your house, but don’t mind campers on your wooden acreage, and you get to make a few bucks, too! TENTRR lets you buy into a membership and then even comes to set everything up for you! All you have to do is make sure your campers have what they need – a clean set up, fire wood, etc. Learn how to be a campkeeper here.
This trip was provided by Tentrr to experience the services but all opinions and products used are my own. This is meant as a guide on how to camp outdoors, but I am not an expert by any means!
Author: Stephanie Barnhart
Stephanie Barnhart is Author/Founder of Footballfoodandmotherhood.com, New York Editor for Mommy Nearest Magazine, and Founder/Social Media Strategist of SocialmindedMediaGroup.com. Stephanie is also a speaker of best online practices for small business and soloprenurs, as well as an educator to parents on social media monitoring. She has also been seen in the New York Times, PARENTGUIDE News, NY Metro Parent, ABC News, and been a contributing author on various websites.