Break out the s’mores, it’s camping time! June is National Camping Month: nature awaits, the trails beckon, and there’s a hammock somewhere with your name on it. Here are some pro-tips to get you on the road to your first camping trip of the season.
Tip #1: Reserve a Water & Electric Site
If you will be camping at a state park, which I highly recommend, booking a water and electrically equipped site has some definite advantages. You will have potable water to wash hands and dishes with, as well as to use for cooking. The electricity comes in handy if devices need to charge (yes, I know we are camping, but come on) or you need plugs for small appliances. It’s a nice, affordable little luxury to have just in case.
Tip #2: Tent Know-How
If you will be tent camping, there are a couple of must-dos before you set up. Find the flattest area to set up the tent and clear any large rocks or obstacles. Then, lay out a tarp that will cover the size of your tent on the ground.This prevents moisture or dirt from getting to or through the floor of your tent, and makes for super easy clean-up. Also, remember when closing up your tent for the night, zip the zippers toward the top so any little critters that might be scavenging won’t be able to pay you a visit.
Tip #3: Furry Friends
Speaking of critters, it only takes one time losing all of your food to racoons to learn how to secure everything while you are sleeping. A great way to make sure the other inhabitants of the campground don’t pilfer your stash at night is to store ice chests and bins with food under benches and picnic tables where there is no clearance for them to be opened. The lids are blocked by the seat of the picnic table and they stay shut tight. Remember that animals are not picky and will dig through your trash, too. Make a trip to the nearest dumpster before bedtime, or hang the trash from a pole or tree to keep it away from the dumpster divers. And for cryin’ out loud, don’t take food into your tent; that’s just an invitation.
Tip #4: Back to Nature
If you are primitive camping, remember that you don’t want to leave anything behind but footsteps. Our places on earth that live untouched and unspoiled will only remain that way if we make a conscious decision to keep them safe. You will need to carry a small shovel and biodegradable toilet paper to do your business. Consider purchasing a LifeStraw, which turns any water source into safe drinking water, so that you can reduce the number of plastic bottles you use and trash you create. A fire stone or flint stone can be helpful for starting a fire, but make sure you are only using kindling, not paper or trash, to get the fire started.
Tip #5: Don’t forget the fun!
Even though you will keep your devices charged for emergencies, make sure to enjoy the time outdoors and the people you are spending it with! Moderate hikes on safe trails are a great way to get fresh air and exercise. If you are camping near water, consider experiencing kayaking or rafting. Try things that you might not otherwise do in your area at home, and you may be surprised at what you can do and enjoy doing.
BONUS TIP: Pack a deck of cards. This can come in handy when sitting around just enjoying each other’s company. If you are with a competitive group, make sure you have the first aid kit handy as well!