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© 2015 Shanna Lea
Are you getting ready to go camping? I love spending time enjoying nature while camping out. But sometimes challenges can come up that make relaxing more difficult. Common sense can take care of most situations you will encounter, but it never hurts to learn more about nature and the survival skills you might need in case things change on your trip.
Your campsite is part of nature and should be treated with respect. Never leave a campsite trashed or dirty. Leave it better than how you found it. Respect nature and clean your campground before you leave.
Although you want to live as minimally as possible while camping, you still need to prepare yourself for your trip. A sleeping bag and extra blankets will provide extra warmth should the temperatures unexpectedly change. They will also give you additional cushioning.
Bringing your dog on your camping trip is fun, but be sure to bring a leash and keep a close eye on him. Other campers might be fearful of your dog, even if he is friendly. It’s just common sense to show respect to others by keeping your dog under control while camping. Dogs can cause trouble and damage if you let them run free unsupervised around the campsite.
Camping recipes are a must. Hot dogs and junk food can get old quick, so look through old recipe books while planning your camping trip. Keep the recipes simple and pack your favorite spices and seasonings. While packing with my goats, my favorite easy dish was scrambled eggs and bacon cooked on my small cast iron griddle over a fire in a dry creek bed.
Setting up your tent. When selecting an area for your tent, look for an area with the flattest and softest ground. Sweep away the rocks and sticks and smooth out uneven areas if you can. Always put a tarp down on the ground first, so water can’t get in and ruin your trip.
Wild animals. Anytime you are camping where there are dangerous or curious animals, you need to take extra care where you store your food. Wrap things up tight and keep them away from your tent. You will need to avoid bringing certain foods while camping. Following these tips will lessen the possibilities of animals stealing your food or attacking you.
Know your plants. Learn how to identify poisonous plants in your camp area and what remedies to use if you do encounter them. There are resources online or books to take with you on your trip to help you learn how to identify these plants. In some cases, the remedy plant also grows close to the poisonous plant, such as jewelweed (or jewel weed) for poison ivy or poison oak. You can also keep some jewelweed salve in your camping gear for such cases.
Setting up camp. Always set up camp before the sun sets. Find a safe place to park if you’re in an RV. If you are in a tent, find flat, high ground. Doing this during the daylight lets you get familiar with your surroundings and avoid frustration with setting up camp that being in the dark bring on.
Ways to relax while camping. Try to leave your normal ways of relaxing back at home. Instead of listening to music or reading a book, get out of your tent and appreciate nature. Watch the stars and learn the constellations. Walk down the trail under the moonlight. Find a sit spot and observe everything around you, the shape and texture of leaves, the way the grass bends, study animal tracks, watch the animals and birds move and communicate. Bring a nature journal to record what you see and draw as much as you can from memory. Even if you don’t know the name of something, like a new plant, studying it and then drawing it from memory will help you learn it better than just looking it up and moving on to the next one.
Indoor activities. Bring some activities to keep you busy in case it rains and you are stuck in the tent or RV for a while. The rain doesn’t have to ruin your trip if you plan a few activities to keep you busy. Gather some plant material and learn how to make cordage. I used to make cordage from yucca leaves while resting during hikes. Plant material is surprisingly strong when plied into cordage and has many uses from temporary shoe strings to handles to rope. Press flowers and leaves in a book for studying later at home. Check out books on primitive skills (see full list below post) for more skills to practice and give you knowledge on how to use the resources around you.
First Aid. Accidents can happen, even on the best planned trips. Take a first aid course before taking your trip. Especially if you are camping with children. If an accident does happen, you will be better prepared to handle the situation. Always keep a first aid kit in your supplies.
Poisonous animals. The first thing you should learn before going camping is how to identify the poisonous animals you might encounter. Learn which snakes, spiders, and other creatures are poisonous and what to do if someone gets bit. Learn which *good* snakes mimic the colors and patterns of the poisonous ones so you know exactly what you are dealing with. Know the wildlife in the area and learn what their habits and patterns are.
Mosquitos. There’s nothing like a horde of mosquitoes following you around, or that one mosquito that makes it into the tent at night with his incessant whine. Pack some natural insect repellant and remedies for mosquito bites. I use chickweed salve right after a bite and the itch is completely gone within minutes. For repellent, there are essential oils you can try. Or, pack some oranges. After you eat an orange, rub the insides of an orange peel gently over exposed skin. This should keep the mosquitos at bay for a few hours.
Survival Kit. Always pack and carry a survival kit. Things to include in your survival pack are a knife, waterproof matches, first aid kit, flares and tablets to purify water or a LifeStraw. Situations out in nature can change very quickly, and this kit may just be what helps you to stay alive in case you get lost or something bad happens and you’re stuck outside for longer than planned. Carry it at all times.
Camping is not complicated, but with planning and preparation it can be one of your best trips, you just have to be ready for challenging situations. Use these tips to help you have a memorable trip!
Primitive Skills Books: