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What They Don't Tell You About Camping

Are You Sure You're Ready?

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So you're ready for your first camping trip. You've gone through your checklist, and everything is accounted for. You've practiced setting up your tent, and you've become familiar with using the rest of your camping gear. The cooler is packed with food and drinks, and your first aid kit is stocked. Everything is accounted for, and you're ready to go. If only it were that simple. There are lots of things that we can't predict when we go camping, but there's no reason why we can't be prepared for uncertain circumstances. What they don't tell you about camping need not come as a surprise. The first time you go camping, be prepared.
  • Why does camping seem like work?

    Camping has its share of chores, but it also has its rewards. First you have to pick out a level campsite. Then you have to unpack all your gear, clear a tent site, set up the tent, make your bed, start a fire, cook a meal, and clean up after yourself. Sounds like the same routine you might follow at home, so it can't be that much work. A few of the rewards include having a picnic, communing with nature, and sleeping under the stars.

  • What can I do about the bugs?

    If you're outdoors, there are going to be bugs. Some are nasty and some are not, but there is plenty you can do to keep them from bothering you.

    • First and foremost keep a clean campsite. Bees are attracted to soda cans, and ants are attracted to food scraps. Gather trash and dispose of it daily, don't eat in your tent, and don't leave food sitting out.
    • Flying insects are attracted to fragrances. Don't wear makeup or cologne when camping, and use unscented deodorant.
    • Bright lights attract mosquitoes, gnats, and noseeums. When you use a lantern, set it away from the sitting area. To help repel biting flies and mosquitoes, use an appropriate insect repellant. Citronella candles help too.

  • Why is everything wet in the morning?

    It didn't rain, but everything is soaked. That's because dew invaded the campsite. Warm weather with high humidity are ideal conditions for morning dew. As objects radiate heat during the night they become cool enough to drop below the dew point and cause water to evaporate on the surfaces of objects close to the ground. Dew is a fact of nature and it's unavoidable. Before retiring for the night, be sure to take any clothes down off the clothes line, put a tarp over things you don't want wet, or put them in the car for the night.

  • Where can I get more ice?

    This is a question you need to ask when you first arrive at the campground. Summertime heat and frequent use of your cooler can cause ice to melt pretty fast. Don't let all your ice melt without knowing where to get more. Some campgrounds sell ice, but sometimes the closest store is not so close.

  • How should I dispose of waste?

    It's amazing how much trash can build up at the campsite. Be sure to take along some plastic garbage bags. Don't burn trash in the campfire, and don't clean fish at the campsite. Dispose of trash daily in the campground's designated disposal area.

  • Why can't I get a good night's sleep?

    A good night's sleep can be difficult when not sleeping in the comfort of your bed. Many new campers make the mistake of not getting a sleeping pad. Even in warm weather, the temperature difference between the ground and our bodies can get quite chilly. Sleeping pads are relatively cheap and they add a layer of insulation between you and the ground. They also add some cushioning, which helps make sleeping outdoors more comfortable.

  • What got into the cooler last night?

    Don't wake up to your food missing or scattered all over the campsite. Depending on where you camp, there could be various critters that live in the vicinity of the campground. If there's the possibility that you have campground neighbors like skunks, raccoons, squirrels, ravens, crows, or seagulls, to name a few, then you better be prepared. Such animals frequent campgrounds for their food source. Never leave food unprotected. Secure your coolers at night, and put dry foods in your car.

  • Why can't I use wood around the campsite to build a campfire?

    This downed timber is essential to replenishing the nutrients in the ground for the other plants. If everyone who went camping stripped wood from the forest for their campfire, there would soon be no forest.

  • What does it mean when a campground has quiet hours?

    Campgrounds usually designate quiet hours so that campers can enjoy a good night's sleep. Show respect for other campers and keep your talking to a whisper during quiet hours. If you're an RVer, refrain from running your generator. Try to arrive at the campground early enough to set up camp before it gets dark.

  • Why shouldn't you choose a campsite next to the bathroom?

    This is a common mistake of new campers. Bathrooms are high traffic areas and have lots of lights. For a quieter night, choose a campsite away from bathrooms.

In spite of all the discomforts and inconveniences that we may endure while camping, these outdoor experiences will be looked back upon as cherished memories.
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