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1st Time Camping

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Upon Arrival to Your Campsite


A loaded mini van pulled in to the only remaining campsite.

     Four children leaped from the vehicle and began feverishly unloading gear and setting up the tent.  The boys rushed to gather firewood, while the girls and their Mother set up the camp stove and cooking utensils.

     A nearby camper marveled at the youngsters.  He then told the Father, "That, sir, is some display of teamwork."

     The father replied, "I have a system; 
no one goes to the bathroom until the camp is set up."

When You Arrive . . .

The number one rule
of campsites
 is to select your campsite before dark. 
No end of trouble can be avoided by this one simple rule. 

Just about every seasoned camper will admit to finding themselves, at one time or another, so tired, pressed for daylight or challenged by incoming or inclement weather, that they simply pulled their tent from its bag and put it up as quickly as possible-wherever they could.

Those veterans will further admit that they probably didn't sleep as well that night as they could have if they'd have taken just a few more minutes to get settled.
They'll also say this practice is irresponsible.

Campsite selection goes beyond simply finding a place that is aesthetically pleasing to spend the night or a few days. What you look for in a site affects comfort, safety, the environment, wildlife and other campers.

No Matter Where You're Camping

Whether you're in the wilds, miles from civilization, at a wilderness area campsite or at an improved campground, there are a number of campsite selection criteria to consider.

Walk or drive around the site before you decide where to pitch your camp. 

Do you want to be near children the same age as yours so they can play together?
 Do you want to be away from the action to give yourself some peace and quiet,
 perhaps to allow your older children some more independence? 
Do you need to be near to the facilities in case someone has to get up to the toilet during the night?
And so on . . .

Level the playing field.

I recommend that you select a site as level as possible.
As you walk around the site, watch for long grooves channeled  into the ground as this may be a sign that the ground needs some help with drainage -
select a site on higher ground.

A level site is also critical -
if you want to sleep well. 
If you are forced to set up on a slight slope, don't sleep laterally on the slope or you'll wake with lots of sore muscles that worked all night to keep you in place-whether or not you wanted them to work. Sleep with your head above your feet or vice versa-whichever makes you most comfortable.

Conduct a surface check

 Clear any loose debris, such as newly cut grass, stones or fallen twigs, away before you pitch your tent.

After the tent is set up, and before you've loaded it up with gear, get inside and check for sticks or rocks that may cause sleeping discomfort. Small rocks or twigs can be easily removed.
Larger obstacles may require you to relocate. 

If you have a tent with a sleeping annex, pitch it so that the annex points in a westward direction, towards the setting sun. Zip up the annex at least two hours before you lose the warmth of the sun each day, and you will find that the annex will keep warmer for longer.
On summer mornings, you will also be able to spend extra time in bed, unlike any of your neighbors who started to get hot and sweaty as the rising sun warmed their sleeping annex!

Look skyward

 Pay attention to what's overhead.
 Dead trees/limbs or the potential for falling rock can create dangerous situations. Without the protection of a tent, even objects such as large pinecones can pack a wallop.

Respect your fellow campers

Being mindful of others is simple etiquette. Set up in an area and in a way that does not encroach on other campsites or campers' privacy. Respect "quit time," usually after 9 p.m.

When using a public campground, a tuba placed on your picnic table will keep the campsites on either side vacant.


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