Apache Camper Blog

  • Published on Jul 21, 2015
    Nancy's Notes for Fold Downs

    When my husband and I were much younger, we camped in a Jayco fold down.  We had such great memories with that camper and with all the adventures (and misadventures) that occurred during those campouts.

    After thinking about all of our adventures and all the things that have changed since then, I decided to offer some camping tips this week for people with fold down campers.  It doesn’t matter whether the camper is a vintage 1960’s version or one of the current models, some of these ideas will apply to most of you.

    The camper that we used was equipped without a water heater.  Well, after trying to boil water on the stove that came with the camper (unsuccessfully I might add), I got fed up and tried looking into other options.  With a toddler, not having hot water was not an option for dishes or even toddler messes.  One of our camping neighbors gave me some advice that I have passed along for years to others that many would never have thought of.  She told me to go to Goodwill or someplace like that and look for the “silver bullet” coffee pot like you see at reunions or at church functions.  You can usually find one for only a few dollars.  You simply make this part of your camping gear and when you set up camp, fill the pot with water and plug it in.  Presto – you have hot water whenever you want! 

    One other problem that we ran into was that as a glasses wearer (who is blind as a bat without them), there was no place to store my glasses safely when sleeping.  What I did was buy one of those shoe holders (the vinyl type that hangs over the closet door), cut off the top and attach Velcro loops across the top.  This I hung from the bed bow and used it to hold glasses, books, tissue, etc.  It came in really handy on my daughter’s end for smaller toys, crayons, etc.  The beauty of using this style of storage in the bed end is that all you need to do when you are putting the camper down is to make sure the pockets are empty, and then fold it in with the rest of the bed.  Never needs to be removed, and won’t cause any harm to the cushions or tent.

    Since the large part of our business back then was fold downs, one other tip that I will pass along is how to keep things moving smoothly.  Not with the family, but with the camper and the mechanical functions.  When we used to prep fold downs, there was one step that we always felt was necessary, and all it took was a little time and a bar of canning wax.  We would rub the canning wax along the bed slides, along the telescopes that lift the roof, and on the bottom sides of the drawers and beds.  The wax made the movement of the lifter and the beds much easier and smoother, and it only cost a few pennies (back then). 

    As you all know, the size of the refrigerators in fold downs leaves a lot to be desired.  I would only use the refrigerator for condiments or meats, but I would make sure that the meat was put in frozen.  That way it could gradually defrost, and the condiments would stay colder for longer, especially on really hot days.  We started using bottled water which we froze and put into the cooler.  It was a perfect way to have ice cold drinks especially with those little flavor packets for water bottles.  I would also keep the vegetables in that cooler, but I always kept the tomatoes and lettuce protected from the ice bottles to prevent them from getting slightly frozen themselves.

    Camping in a fold down camper is probably one of the most mentioned memories that customers bring up.  The memories are always told with a wistful smile, and a wish for a simpler time.  The kids just loved sleeping on the bed end because they could close the curtains and have their private “cave”.  No electronics, no cell phones, just time with Mom and Dad and getting dirty, going fishing, or riding their bikes.

    Now that I am getting ready to close this tips entry, a memory comes to mind and I think that it will be helpful for a fold down owner or even for owners of Hybrid or Expandable trailers. 

    My daughter was about 7 years old, and that Labor Day weekend, we took her best friend with us to Adventureland for camping.  Well, being best friends that were nearly sisters and since there was a 2 ½ hour drive, the girls got into that “she’s touching me” phase of the trip.  The girls were nearly at each other’s throats by the time we got there, so we quickly had them help us put up the fold down, and began to get unpacked and ready the beds.  Things calmed down for a few hours (thankfully), and then it was time for bed.  Now we were into the “her things are touching my things” part of the evening…..Frustrated, I took a lightweight blanket and sectioned off the bed by hanging it from the center rafter on the bed that they were sharing creating a separate room for each girl.  Wow!! Peace at last.  With 2 only children, this solution was ideal.  The only problem that we had the rest of the weekend and one last tip to pass along was that they liked playing the arcades and managed to win the large stuffed animals….Let your imaginations run from there.  It was a pretty tight ride back home with the giant panda, the giant Clifford the dog and all the smaller items, but the girls are in their mid 20’s now and still remember that trip with a big smile. 

    Happy Camping, and as I come up with more tips, I will pass them along.  If you have suggestions, please feel free to email them to the website, and I will be more than happy to post them here.  Ingenuity is the basic necessity of camping – Send along your tips, recipes, etc. and we will have a great conversation!!

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