After a long day of traveling you have finally arrived at your campsite, so how do you work out which is the best site for you? Here you can find out what to look for and how to set up your campsite.
The first thing you will need to do is check in and register at the office. Tell them if you have a reservation, and they will get you to fill in a form recording your vehicle and the number of people staying. Most campgrounds have a map so you can see where everything is. Be sure to check out the campground rules such as quiet hours, ranger patrols, emergency contacts, and garbage disposal.
When choosing your pitch, you need to consider water! Dips in the ground and low areas will allow water to collect, and rivers/streams and lakes, whilst they appear idyllic, are often a source of midges and other biting insects, not to mention the risk of flooding if the water levels rise. Slopes will mean sliding down the tent in the middle of the night.
If you have a choice of pitches your next step is to locate water and other amenities you might need. If there are a number of water sources, pitching near one will mean you won’t be walking miles lugging your full water containers.
Remember, you need water for drinking as well as for washing, cooking, and cleaning. If the number of water supplies is limited, you might want to think about the number of other people who will be walking past your camp to use them.
Cooking & Washing
Cooking in tents can be dangerous for a number of reasons including the risk of your shelter catching light or the build up of deadly carbon monoxide.
You need to find a nice flat area, then clear away all leaves and twigs so there is nothing there that can catch fire. Never walk away from your campfire – have someone there at all times keeping an eye on it.
Check before you leave home to know what kinds of fires are allowed at your camping ground, some will require the use of a raised fire pit and some will insist on camping stoves only.
Set aside an area for cleaning dishes and doing laundry. Be aware that hot soapy water will kill plants, and only dump your dirty water away from water sources and rivers. Use bio-degradable soaps and detergents to lessen your impact on the environment. Most commercial sites will have designated areas for washing up and disposing of waster water.
Collect and contain all your rubbish – you don’t want the local wildlife getting into it and spreading it far and wide. Some campsites have rubbish collection areas – be sure to keep your campsite clean every day, waste food will only attract unwanted attention. Separate items for recycling if this is a camp requirement. Bring plenty of garbage bags and change them regularly. Where possible hang your garbage bags off of the ground to avoid ‘temptation’ from hungry critters.
Choose a campsite with some shade for the hottest part of the day. This will give you a nice place to rest out of the sun while you doze after lunch or are sitting planning your next adventure. However, do not set up your tent directly under a tree.
In storms, the highest objects such as trees are targets for lightning. And leaves can hold a considerable amount of water, so water will continue to fall on you after the shower has passed. A nearby tree though may provide a good anchor point for attaching a tarp or other form of shelter near to your camp.
Finally, after everything is set up and tidied away, it’s time to explore and have fun, after all that’s why you’re there, isn’t it? Lie back at night, breathe in that fine fresh air, and just look at the stars. This is a nice way to relax and unwind and rest those aching muscles before heading in for a good night’s sleep.
Before you even leave your home make a list of everything you are taking. Use it before your trip so that you don’t forget items, and use it at the end of your trip, so you don’t leave items behind when you head home. When you do get home make a list of anything that hasn’t been used. It’s okay to keep revising your list as you get more experienced.
Follow all the camp rules as they are there in order to ensure everyone has a good time. These rules will be tried and true, no matter how silly you may think some of them are. Be a good neighbor and you will make some good friends.
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We live in a beautiful world, get out there and enjoy it.
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