We were all novice campers at one stage, and it’s highly possible that we all have a funny tale or two to tell of our campground mishaps. Sometimes the only way to learn something new is by trial and error, and even experienced campers forget things at times.
Common Camping Mistakes
The old adage “live and learn” is very fitting for new campers. But there are a host of common camping errors which have gained quite a reputation. Read on to learn more. If you remember these common errors you will be able to avoid a host of camping mishaps and so forth.
Have a Checklist
Without a checklist it’s very easy to forget the must haves. Make a checklist and alphabetically list all items needed. Decide if you will be backpacking or driving to your chosen camping venue. If you will be backpacking of course your load needs to be light, so only pack the essentials.
Dehydrated food is your best option as this will lighten your load dramatically. Powdered milk is another good option. A checklist ensures that you don’t forget anything at all. Update and add to your list as you think of something important. Check that nothing is broken, damaged or needs replacing.
Familiarize Yourself with Your Camping Gear
A plethora of novice campers don’t test their camping gear until they reach their chosen campground destination. Therefore they have no idea if their camping equipment is faulty, the right size or style. One also needs to ensure that the tent needs to be suitable for the terrain and climate. Unfortunately many novice campers have no idea whatsoever how to set up a tent.
Ensure That Your Tent and sleeping Bag is the Right Size
There is nothing less comfortable than a cramped tent so ensure your tent is the right size for the amount of people camping with you. Far too often novice campers have felt like sardines in a can because they failed to make allowances for their backpacks, clothes, food etc. Space and comfort must be your priority unless your are backpacking of course.
I recommend that you opt for a tent which has a capacity which is rated two higher than the actual number of campers who will be using it. A couple would be comfortable in a 4-person tent. A family of four would be comfortable in a 6-person tent.
Make sure that sleeping bags are the right size for each person.
Plan meals and write out a menu for each day of your intended stay. Allow for breakfast, lunch and so forth. Basically write out every meal you intend to have while camping, then add enough food for two extra meals in case of emergencies. Try to avoid packing store bought snacks. Trail mix and dried fruit is the better option for snacks. Purchase your food no more than two days prior to leaving for your camping trip. Many campers fail to plan ahead and this has many campers not taking enough food while many take enough food to feed an army.
Don’t Arrive at the Campground Late
Many an experienced camper has often sat back and watched a novice camper attempting to set up camp in the dark. Novice campers need to arrive early so that they can familiarize themselves with the amenities, the campground rules and the terrain. Knowing the campground layout will make setting up your camp so much easier. Arriving in the daylight hours allows you to see what you are doing, the condition of the terrain and so much more.
Practice, Practice, Practice
Practice pitching your tent, camp cooking and reversing your RV long before you leave for your camping adventure. Inexperience can lead to so many problems and you will only have yourself to blame if you don’t know how to pitch a tent, use your camp oven etc, before you head for the bush.
Do some research on the internet about how to pitch a tent properly, set up your camp oven and so forth. Now practice at home until you feel confident in all avenues of camping. Practice reversing your RV until you feel very confident in doing so. I have often witnessed RV accidents with trees and amenity blocks. Don’t be the joke of the campground – practice, practice, practice.
Take Enough Clothes
No you don’t need to take the entire wardrobe but ensure you have enough clothes for your stay. Many campers forget to bring enough clothes for their stay. That’s not so bad if there are laundry facilities at the campground. If there isn’t you are going to smell like a skunk. Assorted weather can mean the need for various attire. Check out the weather forecast and bring sufficient clothes.
Check the Weather Reports
Too many campers fail to check out the weather reports. This can be dangerous if you are in flood prone areas. Never head out to the campground when storms are present. Roads could be cut off and you could place yourself and your family in great danger. Flash floods can mean death and so can sleet, water and so forth. Besides what fun can you have when your tent is being pelted with hailstones of heavy rain or snow?
Tell Someone Where You are Headed
Accidents happen everyday irrespective of our plans. Be sure to tell someone where you are headed and ensure that you give them accurate directions to the campground in case they have concerns about your safety. If possible, try to contact at least one family member each day or every second day to let them know that you are safe. In fact, until you become a ore experienced camper, camping close to home would be a good option. You can have just as much fun two miles away from home as you can 200 miles away.
It’s up to you to make the fun happen. In actual fact, sometimes people are simply not cut out to be campers. If you find that camping is not your thing, you will be quite annoyed if you are hundreds of miles away from home.
Obey the Campground Rules
Respect the privacy of others and do not infringe on their enjoyment. Don’t be a bad camper -think of others. Unfortunately some campgrounds do not offer much privacy so be considerate to your fellow campers. Keep your noise to a minimum and respect the space of others. Follow all the rules otherwise you may be escorted off the premises.
Listed below is a small list of things campers fail to think of when camping:
Am I camping too close to water? Tides rise as well as fall so don’t camp too close to rivers and so forth.
Is it safe to camp beneath trees? No, it is not safe to camp beneath trees, tree branches fall, get struck by lightening etc.
Am I taking the wind direction into account? Think fires and check that you are not in a high fire danger area.
Is it safe to have an uncontrolled fire site? No it is not, dig a fire pit and keep your campfire safe and well away from trees and debris. Am I using the wrong wood for my campfire? Pinewood is great for quick burning heat but it will not last for long. You will need a slower burning wood for cooking. In fact pinewood may be aromatic but it’s no good for those nights when you wish to keep warm. Am I at risk of turning my campfire into an inferno? You do not need a roaring fire for cooking or to keep warm.
Have I got a light? A light is a necessity, not an option. Pack a battery powdered lantern. You don’t wwant to trip over tree roots, branches etc in the dark.
Will I be warm enough? (Dress in layers. ) You don’t want to risk the chance of suffering from hypothermia so dress in layers and remove clothing when you get too hot. It’s better to take too many clothes than not enough. Make sure you have a thermal blanket and a good quality sleeping bag.
Will I be taking Fido? If you decide to take your canine friend ensure that the campground rules say it is ok to do so. Bring the dog’s vaccination papers as you may need to show the rangers these and be prepared to clean up after your dog.
Will my food attract bears and other animals? Clean up after each meal and don’t leave any trash lying around which may attract unwanted visitors.
Place food in the trunk of your car or in an airtight container. Some campers string their food up in an airtight bag in the trees. Don’t encourage animals by leaving trash lying around or by feeding them. Wild animals are always wild animals and they can become quite aggressive when the food runs out.
Camping can be an extremely wonderful experience. Use your commonsense and do a little research about camping prior to heading off to the great outdoors inexperienced.
Essential Tips for Beginner Campers
As you learn more about camping you begin to question different people about what things to do and what things to avoid. Different people have different views about camping, so there is no right or wrong answer.
Some people will tell you camping is great and it’s a wonderful experience that helps you bond with mother nature, and to relax from the stress of the society while others will tell you that it is a dangerous experience and they don’t like it at all.
Regardless of the people telling you about camping and the variety of their advice, there are several common guidelines that you must follow in order to be successful in camping. These guidelines will be a great help in your next camping experience and will increase your safety, enjoyment, and confidence in your next trip.
First, you need to do your homework and perform a little bit of research about your camping site. Knowing your site will not only help your planning but it is also essential in creating a safety plan. It is imperative that you know the territory before going; knowing where you are, and where the nearest hospital or police station is located is vital in case of emergency.
It is useful as well to have information about the rivers, cliffs, lakes and any other natural landmark within your area. Knowing the climate is also important; it will help you choose adequate clothing.
Try to investigate about the season and possible animals in that area. Some predators are more active and aggressive in certain stations, so knowing the possible dangers on the campsite could save your life.
Having the right equipment is also vital in your journey. You need to have a checklist before you start your trip in order to avoid forgetting essential items. Essential equipment includes a tent, sleeping bags, a knife, food, water, right clothes and shoes, a lighter / flint stones, and a compass in case you get lost. Think ahead everything you might need and write it down. Then make sure you pack everything before you leave.
Have an action plan. Deciding where to go and what want you want to do before going on your trip will save you a lot of time deciding where to go or what to do. It can also help you choose particular gear.
For instance if you plan to go fishing beforehand, you will carry a fishing pole; if you plan to see the mountains, you might want to carry a pair of binoculars or if you plan to go hunting, you might want to carry a rifle. Having a plan will prevent frustrations in the camp.
Most importantly – have fun!