Experience shared makes for well-planned outing
Camping season is here, and each spring families and individuals embark on their first camping adventure.
A few springs ago, we asked readers to send us their camping tips to share here in NWA Outdoors. The feature was so well received, we did it again the next spring.
To celebrate another season of camping, here are some of those tips — sort of a greatest hits of camping tips — we received from readers.
• If you use a tent ground cloth, use it properly. Make sure it’s not sticking out beyond your tent’s floor. Otherwise you have created funnel to collect rain water under your tent floor. Not good.
• Camp during the week if possible. Campgrounds are almost always crowded on weekends.
• Sleep with the same number of pillows when you camp as you do at home.
• Take cards, board games or (gasp!) computer games to keep kids occupied if it rains.
• Involve kids in planning and preparing. Kids learn important life lessons when studying maps, preparing food and selecting their own clothing to take.
• A campsite near water is great for kids. They can keep themselves amused for hours along a creek bank or lake shore.
• Before taking kids on their first camping trip, schedule a night or two camping in the back yard. This will help children gain confidence in the tent, sleeping bag and sleeping outdoors.
• Store your camping gear in a little-used room at home like a formal dining room or spare bedroom, preferably close to an outside door. It will make packing and unpacking easier.
• Keep a plastic tote or camp box packed and ready to go with items like plates, silverware, cooking items, matches, flashlights and first-aid supplies. Having these ready saves time when packing.
• Don’t take a radio. No one wants to hear your personal preference of amplified noise.
• Ladies, suggest that your significant other plan the meals and cook when you camp, since it’s usually the other way around at home.
• Keep duct tape and parachute cord in your camp kit. Both have many uses in camp.
• A basic first-aid kit and a small sewing kit are good to have.
• Soy milk keeps much longer than dairy milk. It can be used like dairy milk in any recipe.
• Don’t scatter your ice in a cooler. Keep the ice in the bag and it will last longer.
• Rinse plastic milk or soda jugs, fill them three-fourths full of water and freeze. Use these instead of bagged ice in your cooler. It lasts longer and eventually melts into refreshing ice-cold drinking water.
• Put coolers, food boxes and trash inside your car before going to bed. Critters can’t bother them there.
• Most campgrounds don’t have receptacles for recycling. Be prepared to bring your recyclables home.
• If you use a battery operated pump to inflate an air mattress, flip one of the batteries upside down so the pump doesn’t accidentally come on and drain the batteries.
• If you use an inflatable sleeping pad or mattress, have a patch kit for it. Kits go for around $10, but you’d pay $100 when you need one.
• Pack only a couple changes of clothes. You end up wearing the same clothes a few days at a time. If they smell like campfire smoke, so much the better.
• Take two lighters. One to use and one to loose.
• Try to schedule your first camping trip with experienced campers. You’ll learn from them, see what gear they use and what you’ll need to camp on your own.
• Always pack rain gear, even when no rain is expected.
• Don’t feel like you need a scheduled activity to fill every minute of the day. Relax and enjoy.
Flip Putthoff can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org