I should have thought to get some camping tips from the military but neither Jeff nor I have served so we have to outside source this bit of info.
After reading my last post about my own camping tips, Dannon (someone I actually know in-real-life) sent me a list he describes as "useful tips for not losing your mind in the woods." He learned these tips during Army training. There are some great tips that even little family campers like us could use.
1. Rub cotton balls with Vaseline and store in a Ziploc bag. This is a great fire starter and you can put it anywhere. If you forget to do this, tortilla chips or fritos work in a pinch (they burn like a candle, but they smell like burning tortilla chip/frito).
2. Go to Cabela's or an Army surplus store and buy a spool of "550" cord (aka parachute cord). You can get a lot of it for pretty cheap. It's small, strong and has a billion uses.
3. Unless you feel the urge to be Julia Child in the wild, invest in some camping meals or MREs. They're self-contained meals and most of the time they come with their own heater so you can "cook" your dinner. Your kids will like it for the novelty alone.
4. Always carry a small container of either hot-sauce (Tabasco, red hot, Texas Pete) or seasoning spice mix.
5. If you go camping in the fall or winter, put some insulation between you and the ground. The ground will leech your body heat. The air mattress won't be enough to keep that from happening. You'll wake up to find the mattress has a person shaped patch of dew on it (and you'll be lying in it). I suggest a sheet or a cheap fleece blanket to put between your mattress and your sleeping bag.
6. NEVER UNDERESTIMATE THE MORALE BOOSTING POWER OF DRY SOCKS!!
7. The amount of DEET in your bug spray is inversely proportionate to the amount of mosquitos that will try to give you malaria.
8. For all other bugs, try treating your tent with a permethrin-based bug repellent.
9. Always carry a supply of toilet paper.
10. A small folding shovel is useful in case you get caught in a sudden downpour and your need to divert water around your tent.
Why have to learn from experience when you can listen to camping tips from a military person.