There’s nothing quite like a night or two in the great outdoors. You and your family can enjoy sights and sounds that you might not otherwise see, including animals, stars, and the blissful peace of a truly silent night. One of the best ways to become one with nature is by taking a camping trip to your local state park or campground, but camping for the first time can be a bit overwhelming and intimidating. If you are a novice camper, take heart: following are some tips and steps to set up your own campsite for a great experience and a good night’s sleep.
Preparation for Your Campout
It is really important to start your campout by getting all of the right equipment together. The initial investment may be a bit on the pricy side, depending on what you get, but future trips will be a lot less expensive. Here is a basic list to get you started:
- A tent – Ideally, you should get one that sleeps more people than you plan on taking so you have enough room for your gear, and it should be rated for the season in which you plan on camping. The easiest tents to set up are the pop-up variety that snap easily into place. If you are camping alone, this is the way to go. If you plan on camping with another adult, then other types of tents with poles and stakes are fine, too, and usually more affordable.
- A tarp – To protect your tent, you need a tarp that is large enough to cover the space under your shelter.
- Sleeping bags and/or air mattresses – For the ultimate in comfort, choose a cot or battery-inflatable air mattress to place under your cot.
- A portable grill or cookstove and fuel – If your campsite doesn’t provide one, take a small portable grill or cookstove with you. You will also need either propane or charcoal as fuel.
- Ice chest & food
- Clothing & toiletries
- Tools – a rake, stakes, a hammer, a knife, a small broom/dustpan
- A flashlight and/or lantern
Setting Up Your Campsite
Once you reach your destination with all your supplies in tow and before you begin enjoying your camping trip, it is important to properly setup your campsite. These are the steps to set things up:
- Clear the area – Find a nice, flat spot in your designed camping area. Using your rake, clear away any obvious sticks, thorns, or stickers that may damage the floor of your tent.
- Lay out the tarp – After the area is cleared, unfold and lay out your tarp. Smooth out any folds or wrinkles.
- Set up your tent – Take the tent out of its bag and follow the directions to set it up. This usually involves assembling poles, running them through pockets, and securing them to clips at the base of the tent. Next, you should stake your tent at the corners using stakes and a hammer.
- Arrange your bedding – Inside the tent, set up your cots, air mattresses, and sleeping bags. This will save you from having to do it later on in the dark.
- Bring in your food – DO NOT make the mistake of leaving food outside your tent. If you are in an area with racoons, keep your food inside your tent and make sure to properly secure all openings before bedtime. If you are in an area with bears, store all food inside your vehicle.
- Organize your tent – Get things off to a good start by organizing your backpacks, tools, and other supplies. Hang a trashbag up high outside your tent if you are in an area where it is safe to do so. Hang a lantern inside your tent where it is easy to access in the night if necessary.