17 Genius Camping Uses for Everyday Items

When you’re spending time in nature, these genius uses for everyday items will lighten your load and increase your comfort.

Weather has been fantastic for camping, and the season is ramping up. As families pack up their gear and hit the road, these genius uses of everyday items for camping might be a list to keep in mind!

Over the years, our campers have come up with some creative solutions while camping! Space is always a premium, but more and more thought has gone into some really inventive ways to enjoy your time in nature.

We’re finding the trends towards minimalism – away from the burden of too many material possessions and towards a simple, authentic, enjoyable family experience in all the fun that nature has to offer – is growing in the hearts and minds of folks around us like wild fire.

Along those lines, we thought we might share a few of our family favorites – genius camping uses for everyday items.

Zip Ties

Keep items tightly packed so they use less space. Use to attach a snare just about anywhere, giving  you more flexibility with this trapping method.Make handcuffs, in a pinch. Repair backpacks, straps, tents, clothing. Close pant legs around the ankles to protect against ticks, snakebites, and mosquitoes. Attach items to packs, bags, or shelters.

Tin Can

Storing and organizing other things as well? Screws, nails, sand, herbs, matches, utensils.


Trash Bag

To keep supplies dry, put your clothes, food, water-sensitive gear, etc. in a trash bag in order to keep them protected from the rain. Use it as an apron to stay clean during messy jobs, use to stay warm or even build a shelter!

Dryer Lint

You probably know that you should keep your dryer’s lint trap clean, as lint buildup can pose a fire risk. However, what’s bad for the dryer is good for the campfire: Dryer lint works as excellent tinder if you’re trying to get a fire started.

Aluminum Foil

Crumple it up, and you’ve got an effective tool for scrubbing your camp grill’s grates, scour pots and pans. Wash it and wrap it around your water bottles and canteens for added temperature protection. Used sheets of aluminum foil can line your tackle box to keep moisture out and the rust off your hooks and other gear.


The cornstarch you bring along to thicken your campfire gravies and soups can also be used for personal care. Soothe sunburns or bug bites by creating a paste from water and cornstarch, applying it to the affected area and then rinsing clean. Additionally, cornstarch can absorb oil from hair between showers; simply sprinkle a bit of cornstarch at roots, let it set for a few minutes to absorb the oil and then comb it out.

Shower Curtain & Liner

Use these as tarps or drop cloths at your campsite. If you need tarp for covering luggage stowed on the roof of your RV or spreading on the ground on picnics, old shower curtains save you buying a tarp. 

Liquid Detergent Bottles

Liquid detergent we throw out are often not as empty as we think. They still have a lot of soap sticking to their sides, so why waste? Use them to set up a washing station when camping -  fill with water and you'll have diluted liquid detergent. Place them at one spot with a roll of tissue, a garbage bag, and a basin for collecting water. You can then use the water for washing hands or cleaning dishes.

Newspaper Sleeve

Have your newspaper delivered - wrapped in a plastic sleeve to protect it? Instead of throwing away these newspaper sleeves, you can collect them and use them as disposable work gloves or handy travel bags for wrapping items such as kitchen utensils, toothbrushes, and lotion bottles.

Orange Peel

After eating your oranges, don't throw your orange peels - the natural oil on orange peels is an excellent bug repellant. Rub the inside of the peel against your exposed skin and place the orange peels you have collected near your sleeping spot before retiring for the night. You're sure to have a good night's sleep free from mosquito and other bug bites.

Tic Tac Containers

Camping food doesn’t have to be bland. Common spices such as salt and pepper, or even cinnamon, can be siphoned into these Tic Tac containers. These containers are the perfect size for just a little bit of spice, don’t take up much space, and can be securely sealed to prevent any spillage.


Dryer Sheets

Stick them in your bag to prevent weird smells and stick them underneath the tablecloth to keep bees away!

Tortilla Chips for Kindling

Fire won’t start? Not a problem! Skip the expensive fire starter sticks and reach for a bag of Doritos or Fritos instead. These dense, oily corn chips are easy to light on fire and will last for a long time, making them ideal kindling for starting a fire. Plus, they double as an emergency snack if you get cravings.

Toilet Paper Rolls

Instead of throwing out those cardboard tubes, put them to work as hair tie organizers, extension cord and Christmas light detanglers, and biodegradable starter pots for seedlings. They even work as napkin rings for outdoor parties.

Milk Jug

Fill clean, empty milk jugs with water and freeze it before leaving on your camp trip. Add the jugs to your cooler to save money on ice and keep your food cold for longer. When it melts you can use that water as drinking water for your family.

Duct Tape

Wrap duct tape around your water bottle or a flashlight to save space and also have quick and easy access to it. Duct tape is great for blisters and also can be used to remove ticks.

Head Lamp

Wrap a headlamp around an opaque plastic bottle to make an instant lantern. It can light up your tent by hanging it in the middle of the tent or you can leave it outside to use it at night.


Ways to Play when Camping by a Lake!

Everyone knows there is no better way than to take some time from the daily grind to enjoy nature. But, how much more awesome is it to enjoy nature… beside a lake!

Not all campgrounds in Virginia offer camping beside their own lake! Today we’re diving into a celebration of all of the ways to enjoy our own 25 acre lake, Lake Ruth Ann at Small Country Campground by unpacking all of the extra ways to play that camping beside a lake offers!

Soulful Views

Is there anything more epic than standing in front of a calm body of water, taking a breath of fresh air and enjoying some bird watching or the expansive sky?

Swim, Swim, Swim!

Nothing says it’s summer like getting your tykes into their swimwear and splashing into the lake! For parents, children and grandparents it’s good for the skin, for the heart and for the muscles!


There's something about the water, isn't there, that just brings out the child in everyone... especially children! It's a fantastic feeling as a parent to see families come to Small Country and watch the parents enjoying fun with their children!

Paddle Board

We love to encourage families to bring their favorite lake toys! Paddle boarding on our lake is a fantastic way to have some fun and move quite fast and get a little sun while getting a little workout!


Who doesn’t daydream of breaking out the beach chairs, the coolers, and the beach towels to enjoy some fun in the sun on a warm summer’s day? It’s not summer without some quality time at the beach!


For those looking for an opportunity for quiet getaways, you can’t beat a sweet afternoon between a man and his fishing. Our Lake Ruth Ann is stocked with bass, bream, crappies, and channel catfish – some have reached citation sizes!


For an irresistible experience we encourage folks to bring their canoes and paddle boats! We don’t allow gasoline power, but we do offer own jon boats, paddle boats and kayaks for rent.

Our Famous Lake Toys!

Each year, we unveil a new giant lake toys!!! They offer hours of bouncing, twisting, climbing and splashing fun! One of our favorites is a 16 x 16 foot trampoline and a climbing and sliding wall. And we are very excited to announce the arrival in spring of 2017 of a spinner, an even larger ice climbing wall, and a diving platform.


There's something about getting out in the water that calms the mind and soothes the soul. While we do definitely take fun seriously, Small Country also attracts couples seeking some quality time away in nature - and the water offers that to you.

Enjoy a Nature Walk or Hike Around the Lake

You can enjoy Lake Ruth Ann before you even get wet! Our gorgeous lake is surrounded by a two miles of hiking trails. Enjoy views of the lake from every direction, and some quality bird spotting and identify leafs along the way!

A Source of Beauty Around the Campground

Camping by a lake means those calming and soulful lake views are around every corner. Even if you're not in the water, the lake brings with it nature, sounds, wildlife, and a clear sky - a great space to BBQ or even walk in the evenings or stargaze at night.

Ways to Stay to Enjoy the Lake

There are several ways to stay at the lake. Our Historic Manor House and our Lake View Efficiencies both offer lake views. There are lake adjacent tent camping sites and our Park Models, and RV sites are only a stone’s throw away.