Into the Woods: A Summer Camping Trip Guide

Most of us today are surrounded by human-made things. Very little of the concrete, carpet, or electric lights in your house or office is truly natural. Besides the obligatory office or house plant (which has usually seen better days), we don’t get to see much of nature unless we seek it out. Camping is an excellent way to reconnect with the environment our species was born in, fought with, and thrived in to produce what the current generation tends to take for granted. Reignite your passion for the wild and your gratitude for modern conveniences with a summer camping trip! Here is a guide to having a wonderful camping experience.

1) Plan for a Little Discomfort

Nature is beautiful, but it is also barbaric. It’s not for no reason that we developed A/C, bleach, and a high-functioning sewer system. To experience the romance of nature, you may need to get a little uncomfortable. A place with very little phone service is probably the best place to see the stars dance across the sky at night. No outlets might mean you can’t plug in your speakers, but it also means you can listen to the music of the nearby river as it laughs and bounces its way from the mountains to the sea. There are some appliances that are unnecessary for an impactful wilderness encounter.

However, this doesn’t mean you can’t plan some modern solutions for outdoor problems. For example, few appreciate a sunburn as their defining memory of a camping trip. Sunscreen is important to bring to avoid painful red burns that can end up limiting your camping activities. What about bugs? Consistent application of mosquito repellent, tent zippers, and good strong tarps can help you here. Tarps can also help you manage any summer rainstorms that might surprise you while you are out in the elements. Taking additional steps to ensure a waterproof tent cover is available and layering all hiking boots with a water-proofing spray would also be advisable. If you are somewhere that can get a little chilly at night, choose from your best raincoats for your outer layer, just in case.

2) Plan for Food and Water

Our ancestors had to hunt their own food and discover their own clean water sources. Luckily, you probably don’t have to go that far for your camping trip, but there may be a few sustenance aspects that you find a little different from living in a developed area. We are very used to having running water immediately on hand and grocery stores practically within walking distance. It can be startling to realize that you may need a few gallons of water per person to make it through a weekend and that water will only be cold if you froze it first in your cooler or brought along ice packs. Between sun exposure and camping activities, you are likely to end up more dehydrated than you would have thought. Make sure you have enough water to stay happy and healthy on your trip.

It might also surprise you to remember that the nearest grocery store might be an hour’s drive away, and all the food you bring has to be cooked over a fire—or at least without a microwave. Self-contained snacks or sealable nibblies can help tide you over to your next meals. Planning meals is very important...and can also be incredibly fun! If you are roasting your own hotdogs and marshmallows in the dark over lingering coals or making hobo stew with ingredients wrapped in tinfoil and shoved under a burning log, food can be a delightful part of the camping experience, provided you are prepared.

3) Plan for Some Activities

Some just need a place to get away, unplug, and unwind. They don’t need to do much beyond hanging out in the shade and enjoying the silence. Others, especially those with families, may need a little more to do. Planning for some games, even easy ones like hide-and-seek, can help you out here. Bring along a book about the stars to read up on before night falls. See if there are local animals you can find. If larger animals are in hiding, remember to look for the different bird and insect species around you. Discover the ecosystem you are visiting. What kinds of trees do you see? How are they the same? How are they different? What about the soil they are growing in?

Check what is around your area. You may not need to plan much if there is a river or lake nearby to (safely) play in with swimsuits and water shoes, or a rocky mountain across the road you can walk over and explore. Local hikes and parks are also wonderful ways to fill your time, so remember your hiking boots and athletic shorts. It might also be fun to just chat with each other or meet fellow campers and talk about where you came from, why you chose this camping location, and how things are going so far.

Use these tips to maximize the charm and beauty of your nature experience while minimizing the less enjoyable aspects for a fun and freeing summer camping trip!


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