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Lets Go Camping!
A Resource for the Camping Novice

Camping is a fun and rewarding hobby that to unplug from our busy daily activities and relax in nature. As a family event, you would be hard pressed to find an activity that will bring you closer to one another than a family camping trip. It can be refreshing and downright therapeutic to escape from it all and experience the great outdoors; but leaving daily responsibilities behind can be daunting and worrisome, especially if you are not prepared. A little bit of planning will go a long way to ensure that your camping adventure is as fun and safe as possible. The following is a guide to camping for beginners, including what to bring, safety measures, and assorted camping tips.

Camping Preparation

When packing for a camping trip, it is important to keep in mind that you may have to carry and unload whatever you bring at your campsite. Packing light is advised. For example, most campers could do without a portable television or fragile items that are easily damaged; leave the bulk extras at home. Depending on the time of year and area you will be camping in, you may need heavier clothing and thicker sleeping bags. Many manufacturers of commercial camping gear will provide information about their product’s use in extreme weather; such as rain or snow.

Campers should never leave home without the following:

  • Flashlights
  • Batteries
  • Bug spray
  • Drinking water and enough food to last the duration of their trip
  • Warm clothes; even during the warmer months, it can get very cold at night
  • Fire starters; including matches and starting logs
  • First aid supplies
  • Appropriate footwear; this is especially important if you plan on hiking or will be in a heavily wooded area

Campers should also consider bringing a camping stove. A camping stove is a bit of a luxury, but can go a long way in making your camping tip more comfortable. If you do choose to bring a camping stove, make sure you also bring any fuel needed.

Tools and Equipment You Will Need

Camping typically requires a certain amount of physical exertion, whether it is pitching a tent, building a shelter, or collecting kindling for the campfire, campers are responsible for all basic necessities. To make the trip little easier, campers would do well to bring the appropriate tools and equipment. If you bringing a tent, they must be secured to the ground, this is usually done with tent stakes t hat must be pounded into the ground. A hammer or a hatchet with a blunt end would be very useful. A sturdy knife may also be of benefit to you, for cutting rope or small sticks for a fire. An ax is also an important tool that can be used to clear areas and chop firewood.

Safety Measures and Precautions

Safety should be at the forefront of every camper’s mind, even more so if your camping trip will include children. There are many hazards in nature, depending of course on your location. Different types of wilderness will have various dangers, but these can be mitigated provided you take appropriate measures. So, what kinds of things should be concerned with?

Wild animals, for starters; no matter where you, there will be some type of animal that has lived there first. This may include snakes, coyotes, or bears. It is important to be aware of the different types of animal species in the area you will be staying in and how they should be dealt with. It is also important to familiarize yourself with local plants that grow in the area. Some plants are poisonous and can cause rashes or other health issues.

Another safety concern should be your camp fire. If you choose to have a fire, and you most likely will, unless you plan on going to bed at sundown, you should be aware of the dangers associated with it. For example, your fire needs to be sufficiently far away from your tent, but not so far away that you will not benefit from the light and warmth. Once again, preparation is key.

Camping and Food

While camping there are no drive-thrus or delivery services. There are no refrigerators or freezers, microwave ovens or stoves. How will you prepare food? What will you prepare? How will I ensure that animals don't eat my food while I am sleeping? These are all valid and important questions that you should ask yourself BEFORE you go camping. Certain foods contain lots of energy and don't add a lot of weight or bulk to your gear. Trail mix, for example, has a mix of dried fruit and nuts and is a phenomenal camping snack. You cannot only eat trail mix, though, so you should be prepared for how and what to bring to eat.

Camping Know-How

There are a few skills that are necessary before embarking on your adventure. For example, you may have bought a hatchet and some firewood, but do you know how to cut it? Sure, you can buy a lighter or some matches to light a fire, but do you know how to build the pit and stack the wood so that the flames will not go out? If you have never experienced camping or these associated outdoor activities, the chances are that you do not know how to do these things. That should not deter you, however, as didn't know how to drive a car until we learned how; now that skill is indispensable. There are many resources to learn the skill required to have a fun and safe camping trip.

Camping Activities

Alright, so you have prepared yourself accordingly, packed everything you will need and left the stuff you won't, and traveled to the site of your choosing. Now what? What kinds of activities are there for enjoying the great outdoors? Your selection will of course depend on your location and who is camping with you. If you are in the forest, you may go hiking on a trail. If you are near a lake or a stream, you may choose to go for a swim or try to catch some fish or swim. If you are at an established campsite, you can meet and interact with your fellow campers. Enjoy nature and fresh air of the outdoors, and let you imagination guide you.

Where to Camp

Choosing the right place to camp is about as important as the rest of your preparations. The location will drive all of your efforts leading up to the trip. There are countless campgrounds spread throughout the country. Some may charge a fee for use, and some are developed enough to even have a store with limited supplies should you forget or run out of something. Still other places may not allow open campfires outside of an established fire pit, or they may restrict the use of wood found on the ground for building a fire; this means that any wood to be burned must be carried in by you. The selection of your camping site is important, and should be weighed carefully.

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