As summer stretches out before us, so does the season for outdoor activities. Chief among these activities is the age-old American pastime: camping. I know many of you will “camp out” in a camper or RV this summer, but for those of you who wish to “rough it” in the Great Outdoors, I have compiled this guide to assist you. Much of the information here is from my own personal experience, trial and error.
Location, Location, Location
The first thing you want to do is find a suitable place to set up camp. There are several things to consider when choosing your campsite. Availability of fresh water, the weather, and the terrain are among the most important of these. Try to find a location near a water supply for bathing and washing cookware. I recommend bottled water for drinking and cooking unless you invest in a good, portable water purification system. Brita has a decent water pitcher that filters the water as you fill it. This unit runs around $20 – $30 on average and can be a very worthwhile investment.
Once you have found your water supply, it is best to consider the weather tendencies in the region you have chosen to camp in. If it is a fairly damp, rainy region, I would ensure that i have chosen a spot that is slightly elevated from the surrounding area or on a slight slope. You don’t want to be at the very bottom of a hill or right on a river or creek bank in the event of heavy rains.
When you have found a good campsite, the next step is actually setting up your camp.
Setting Up Securely
Naturally the first thing you think of when you begin to set up your camp is your tent. Before you go rushing to get the tent set up, I again caution you to consider your surroundings. If you are in a rainy area, there are additional preparations that should be made to ensure you have a comfortable, dry place to sleep. First, you should clear the ground where you intend to put your tent, Remove as many of the sticks, sharp rocks, and anything with thorns as you can from the area to prevent poking holes in your tent floor. A good, sturdy tarp should be placed on the ground before you place your tent. This not only provides an extra barrier from sticks and rocks, but for water runoff and ground seepage as well. Once the ground tarp is in place, set up your tent on top of it. If you have an additional tarp that can be spread over the top of your tent, go ahead and spread that next. This top tarp should extend at least a foot out from any windows and your tent door. You can secure this over-tarp on the ends with regular tent stakes. I recommend making use of the trees around you to secure the open sides of this cover. Any kind of sturdy nylon rope can be used for this.
When you are finished, you should have a suitable shelter from all but the most severe weather.
Things That Go Bump In The Night
Now, the one thing you will never be able to fully avoid when camping in the woods is nature itself. However, there are a few tricks I know to keep the critters at a safe distance from your camp.
The easiest and most important thing you can do is keep your trash cleaned up. Keep it securely bagged and remove those bags from your camp regularly. Second, and almost as important, is not to use the bathroom too close to your tent. Many animals are drawn by the scent of animal (or human) waste, so try to go a little ways from your camp to do your business.
Most of the sounds you will hear outside your tent will be completely innocent. A rustling in the brush will usually be squirrels or a rabbit. The odd twig snapping is most often a deer walking by The key thing to remember is this: They won’t bother you if you don’t bother them!
That being said, let’s move on, shall we?
Of course, just because you aren’t camping in a motorhome doesn’t mean you must forgo all the comforts of home. To keep cold food and drinks naturally you want a cooler. Coleman has the best on the market with Marine running a close second. Coleman also makes a wonderful coffee maker that is powered by a propane stove. Simply turn on a burner on the stove, put your water and coffee in the coffee maker and place it on the burner. Soon you will have hot, freshly brewed coffee.
Summer days getting too hot for you? Get yourself a fan. Many brands make battery powered fans of varying strength and sizes. A few even sell fans powered by a USB cord to be plugged into a laptop or other electronic device.
So even in the wilderness, we don’t have to leave all the comforts of home behind and if you set up camp properly, your camping experience is sure to be safe, comfortable, and enjoyable. Here’s to a great summer outdoors everyone!