Camping can be as easy or adventurous as you like. You could camp in a motorhome, or you could take a backpack and hike for four days to see some spectacular falls.
Number one tip is camp to your abilities and health and that of the people around you. If you’re camping alone, a lot of the same safety rules for hiking apply. Make sure people know where you’re going, when you’ll be back, and when to panic.
When you go camping with kids, you’ll need to do more planning for activities. But don’t overplan. Let them enjoy just being in nature and the joy of climbing trees or rocks for the fun of it. But before you go, spend time explaining the ground rules and your expectations like the buddy system, and what to do if you get lost (see below)
When you’re researching your camping spot, read up on the area. Keep an eye on the weather. If you’re hiking into a campground, leave enough time for your trek so you can set up the campground before dark. Also, give yourself two hours to set up camp. Something always goes wrong, and you want to be able to have that extra time.
During the day, you’ll probably go for hikes. Make sure you:
- Stay hydrated
- Eat snacks
- Let the slowest person set the pace
- Watch out for slippery ground
- Wear hiking shoes
- Be aware of the weather
- Keep track of the time so you can get back to your campsite before it’s dark (or have flashlights and head lamps if you want to hike after dark)
- Bring sweatshirts in case it gets cold.
Before you leave, pack these few important things to make your trip more comfortable and safe:
- Map of the area
- Compass and GPS (learn how to use it beforehand)
- Cell phone (though you can’t be sure it will work in remote areas so look into solar chargers and signal boosters)
- More bottled water and food then you think you’ll need
- Sleeping bags
- Mats to go under the sleeping bags
- Flashlights with extra batteries
- Waterproof matches (for an adult to bring)
- First Aid Kit (see below)
- Waterproof tent (set it up beforehand to practice)
- Warm clothing, clean socks, and rain gear
- Plastic bags
- Bug repellent
- Sunscreen (bring more then you think you need)
- Camera with extra batteries
Pack food as you would for a picnic if you won’t have a cooler or refrigerator at your disposal.
Basic First Aid Kit
The following list is only a suggestion of some of the supplies you should consider for your first aid kit. You should personalize yours based upon where you’re going, who will be with you, how close you’ll be to civilization, and how long you’ll be gone.
- Personal medications
- Roll bandages
- Adhesive tape
- Antiseptic wipes
- Sterile gauze pads
- Cotton swabs
- Safety pins
- Bee sting kit
- Sinus medications
- Sterile compresses
- Splinting materials
- Personal information/contact person
- Feminine products
- Razor blades
- Small mirror
- Triangular bandages
- Misc. Band Aides/bandages
- Anti-acids (Tums, Rolaides)
- Antibiotic cream
- Hydrogen Peroxide
- Sunburn lotion/ aloe vera
- Burn ointment
- Snake bite kit
- Eye drops
- Poison ivy cream/cleansers
- Heat/cold packs
- Latex gloves
- Butterfly bandages
- Mole skin for blisters
- Road flares
- First aid manual
- Nail clippers/nail files
Watch Out for Wildlife
Although animals are cute to look at and photograph, wild animals are best enjoyed from far away. Don’t go near or try to feed a strange animal. It’s better to enjoy these animals at the zoo, in books, or on the Internet. To keep animals such as bears or wolves away from your campsite, keep it clean. Store food in the car or a “Bear Bag” and hang it from a tree branch away from the campsite. If they can smell it, the animals will be led away from where the campers are.
What if You Get Lost?
Try to use a buddy system. Stick with your group when you’re in the woods. Carry a whistle and blow it if you get separated from the group. If you have a cell phone and it’s working, use it to make contact with your group.
If you do get lost, wait in a safe, sheltered place for someone to find you. Make certain all children in your group know these rules so they can be found faster.
Finally, try to leave the electronics at home and just enjoy being together and the natural beauty.