June has been proclaimed as Great Outdoors Month by President Obama and almost every state governor. During the month of June, people are urged to spend time enjoying the outdoors, while conserving our nation’s lands for our future generations.
From hiking to wildlife, to canoeing and hunting and fishing, and everything in between, the Proclamation speaks about plenty of opportunities for family and friends to play, explore, and grow, all while staying healthy, active and energized.
Tips for Camping in the Great Outdoors
One way to explore the great outdoors and soak in all the beauty nature has to offer is by going camping. Camping can be a fun and inexpensive way to enjoy family time or to have a nice getaway from the hustle and bustle of life for a few days. If you are new to camping, or spending time outdoors in general, then there are a few necessities to keep in mind when heading out into the woods.
Unless you’re roughing it and sleeping under the stars, or “glamour-camping” and catching your ZzZzZz’s in a nice and cozy RV, don’t forget the obvious – shelter! When people think of camping, they probably think a tent, but using a hammock has also become quite popular (many come with mosquito nets and rain flys, too!)
Prior to your camping adventure, make sure to double check on all the poles, stakes, fly, and tarp (what keeps the rain out) if you’re bringing a tent. Also check your blow-up mattress for any holes and the pillow, sleeping bag, or blankets you are planning to bring, as well. Hammocks need to be checked as well for rips and tears, and to also make sure there’s enough rope to hang the hammock in a tree.
Safety Tip: Always look up before setting your tent/hammock up. Look for tree branches overhead to make sure there aren’t any that may be unstable and could fall if it becomes windy.
This is something so simple and little that a lot of people forget, but can come in quite handy! Some sort of light fixture – whether that be a flashlight or a camping lantern – will be quite useful for late at night.
Tip: Turn off the light before entering the tent and zip it closed prior to turning it back on inside to make sure you aren’t bunking with any creepy crawlies attracted to light.
Bug Repellent/ Citronella Candles
Out in the woods, bugs are inevitable. From mosquitoes to ticks to deer flies, you want to make sure to have some sort of protection against these pests. Citronella candles are great to have to set around the entrance of your shelter, so you can climb in/out without any trouble.
As a friendly health reminder, many bug sprays contain high levels of the DEET chemical, which is especially bad for small children, so do your research before buying repellent.
What’s camping without a campfire? If you’re going to a campground with dedicated campsites, then more than likely your site will have its own pre-made campfire spot. Just make sure to bring dry firewood, dry newspaper, and a flame starter (matches, long lighter, etc.).
Another necessity for campfire: a long, skinny stick, marshmallows, chocolate bars and graham crackers – because what’s a campfire without s’mores?
Food, Water, and Cooking Supplies
The most simple route to camp is to bring MREs (Meal Ready-to-Eat), which don’t require extra cookware or silverware; however, if you aren’t brave enough to eat pre-packaged meals, here’s a suggested list of some items to have a functional camping kitchen:
- eating utensils
- cast iron skillet or other high-heat-safe pot and pan
- spoon and spatula
- a long skewer for heating food over the fire (or sticks)
- oven mitts
- cooler with ice
- can opener
- dish soap
- small plastic tub for cleaning
There are many filtration systems one can buy to purify water sources found outdoors, but it’s easiest to bring gallons of bottled water for cooking, cleaning, and brushing teeth. If you’re camping at a campground, more than likely you’ll have access to running water; just make sure to check ahead of time, and buy a few gallons for back up.
For food, if you’re not going the MRE route, the best choice is to bring nonperishable items that will stay safe and cool in jars or cans. Canned soups and chili, dried soup mixes, individually packed cereal, cookies and crackers, and protein/meal bars work great. Keep in mind, animals are scavangers, so avoid having a new furry friend by storing food in the car (if it’s close enough) or in a secure space.
Although most campgrounds have fully functional bathrooms, it’s a good idea to bring your own supplies just in case supplies run out. Other items you’ll want to remember to bring include:
Clothing Suitable for Camping
Make sure you pack for all types of weather – hot days, chilly nights, and rain. Don’t forget your swim gear if you’re by a river or lake! Closed-toe shoes are also important, especially if you’ll be hiking around. Many companies, like REI, Columbia, and Patagonia, sell clothing specifically made for outdoors. A lot of their material is light, repels water, and protects against the sun. Also make sure to pack plenty of socks!
First Aid Kit
First-aid kits are always a good thing to have when exploring the great outdoors. Bumps, bruises, cuts, and other mishaps can happen when hiking, fishing, and exploring the woods is involved, so make sure you have a first-aid kit to combat the dangers of the woods!
One item we suggest to add to your first aid kit is relief from poison ivy, such as Outdoor Hands Poison Ivy Scrub. To learn more about Poison Ivy and what to watch out for, read our poison ivy blog.