May 18, 2013

Go Outside!

Summer is upon us and with the May long weekend, the camping season begins.

If you have never been camping, this will be a great year to try it out.

If you have camped before, you know that a little prep work before leaving can mean more fun and less work while you are camping.

I decided to write up a little something about camping to help the new camper, and maybe even the experienced one too. Except, I seem to have much to say...

Welcome to my camping series of posts.

For the next little while I will be writing about camping, and providing some free checklists for you to use.  These lists are meant to be for reference.  Not all items or ideas will work for all people. Consider how and where you will camp.

For us, camping includes a tent. This is our camping 'house.'
Occasionally it might be a cabin, but most often it's a tent.
This list is (mostly) made with that in mind. We also (usually) use a truck so we have quite a bit of room. If you are driving one of those little bitty hydro cars, you might need to leave a few things off this list.
If you are using a camper or RV, you will also need to modify the list to suit you.
You know your family best. If the item doesn't apply to you or your camping situation, don't take it.

Take Time to Inform Yourself

I can't express this enough.
Prepare before you leave home.
The more you know, the better you can pack.

To begin, where will you camp?
Will you be in a service-free random camp beside a lake, or maybe in overflow at a music festival in the middle of the prairie,  or camping in a full-serviced, well-maintained campground?
Or maybe you will be staying in a cabin or other accommodations.
Does the location require advance reservations or is it first come, first serve?
Are there camping fees or park entrance costs to have ready?

Most questions you have can be answered with a quick call to the camp office.
Some campgrounds and parks also have online sites with information.
For free camping, check with provincial/state websites for rules and regulations.

When you call for information, ask about the following.

At your campsite, will there be:
Parking access or do you need to park in a main lot and haul your gear in?
Bathrooms - Are they biffys or are they fully plumbed bathrooms with sinks too.
Are there garbage bins, or do you need to take out everything you bring in?

Camp Kitchens  (and where are they located)
Picnic Table
Camp Grill

Fire Pits
Are private campfires permitted or is there one main campfire location to be shared by the whole camp?
If private fires are allowed, does every site have a pit or do you need to bring a fire ring of some kind?
Are there fire-ban restrictions in place for part of the year or because of dry, dangerous conditions?
Are there size restrictions? If you have friends like mine, this is good to know.
Will there be firewood available?

What will the weather be like?
What kind of natural issues do you need to be aware of? for example, are there snakes or bears or poison ivy
Where is the closest medical center to your camp?
Is there a store near camp or do you need to bring everything with you?

Do you need permits or reservations for any of your activities while you are there? boating, fishing, hunting, off-road license, etc
Are any of your extra activities limited to specific days or times?
Are pets allowed and are there special costs or restrictions for them?

How many days will you be gone?
How many people will be camping with you?
Do you have written directions and a map to the camp area?

Use this preparation checklist to gather information.

Once you have the information you need, it's time to think about your menu.
Tomorrow I'll be looking at menu plans and suggestions. I hope you'll come back and join me.

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