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Camping 101: How to Get Started




Maybe you’re always listening to your family and/or friends bragging about what a great time they have when they go camping, and now you’re ready to give it a try yourself. Like most first-time campers, you probably have a lot of questions. Here’s a quick guide to help you get started.

First of all, let’s dispel the myth that you have to spend a lot of money to buy camping gear. As an alternative, you can visit your local outdoor outfitter and rent a tent, sleeping bags and outdoor stove so you can “test drive” the camping experience to see how you enjoy it before you invest in your own equipment. Even better, see if you can borrow a tent from a camping enthusiast that you know and have them teach you how to set it up!

If you’re not quite ready to try tent camping, you can still enjoy all the advantages of getting away from it all and getting back to nature by renting a cabin, a teepee or a yurt (a circular domed tent). Many campgrounds have these readily available for rent.

Another decision to make is the type of camping experience you’d like to try. Are you bringing kids? Your pets? Are you looking for an age-restricted campground where all of the campers are 55 or older? The closer you match your choice of campground to the camping lifestyle you’re looking for, the more likely you are to enjoy it. And it’s easier to find the ideal campground than you may realize. Simply go to the “Find a Park” section of GoCampingAmerica.com, enter the city or state you’re interested in, then narrow down your choices by the types of amenities and lifestyle you want as well as other factors that are important to you. Then, when you get your search results, simply click on each campground listed and decide which one appeals to you the most.

So what else will you need to bring? Start with some basics like plenty of water, insect repellant, a lantern, first aid kit and non-perishable foods like canned goods and bottled sports drinks. Keep your meals simple. Do as much prep work (washing and cutting fruits and vegetables, etc.) at home as you can to minimize the amount of work you’ll need to do at the campsite. You can also prepare and freeze some of your favorite entrees at home and keep them in a cooler. These frozen packages will do “double duty” to keep your other foods and drinks cold.

If you’re traveling with kids, extra clothes are a must, as are some simple activities like games to play. And when the sun goes down, a package of glow sticks and the ingredients to make s’mores are always a hit!

The most important thing to remember is to enjoy the experience. Will you make some mistakes? Probably. Will you forget something you need? Yes, it’s quite possible. But you’ll find that your fellow campers will welcome you into the “club” and help teach you the ropes, so that before long, you’ll be planning your next camping adventure.

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