Plan and Prepare with These 6 Tips.
by Byron Kerns
Nobody wants a first-time camping trip to go sideways, where ‘fun’ is an elusive creature. But, it happens. And, it can happen for a parcel of reasons: Weather - “Golly, sure is a nice day for ducks!” Boredom - “Now whadda we do?” Equipment - “Poles? What tent poles? Not all wanted to come - “This! This is better than a cabin?!” And, my favorite, Attitude – “Whaddya mean you didn’t bring the S’mores!?” There’s a myriad of ways (ways we haven’t even thought of) for the first-time camping trip to take a dive. Go south. Go belly-up. Not be so good a time. Let’s be smart and prevent - by planning and preparing properly.
Tip 1. Make an itemized equipment list. A good and thoroughly bodacious list. History has it that you’re bound to forget a couple of things the first time out. Forget less by making a list.
Tip 2. Use the “What If?” method. What if you or someone with you gets cut with a knife? Do you have “wilderness” first-aid knowledge? Did you bring a first-aid kit (with the right stuff in it)? What if it rains? A big bunch. Every day. Are you prepared for falling and soaking wetness? On a large scale, so as to remain comfortable and dry? What if the bugs are ornery? Ants, chiggers, ticks, mosquitoes, bees … to name a few. Will you persevere? Will you repel and avoid these small-fry critters? Or, will you be a bit jumpy like a cat on a porch with rocking chairs? What if the first night in the woods never ends? Your typical nightmares at home are now wide-awake imagination-jarring experiences … in the woods. “Jim! You awake? Listen! There are bears outside the tent! At least ten of ‘em! Jim! Are you awake, dammit?!” Hours later. 4 am. “Is the sun ever gonna come up?!” Sleep: 0-minutes. Personality: a tad shy of a T-Rex. What if questions. They’re a good thing.
Tip 3. Study before buying gear. Camping equipment general rule: spend the bucks; don’t buy cheap. Google and find an array of items … tents, sleeping bags, pads, cook kits, and so on. Read reviews and recommendations from annual gear guides, such as Backpacker Magazine provides. Order on Amazon with Amazon Prime and you’ll have your stuff in two-days. Sure, Wal-Mart might be good for a few items - but, an Ozark Trails tent? Don’t think so.
Tip 4. Have a positive mental attitude. Like the young boy who declared himself “the world’s greatest hitter.” Who tossed up his baseball, swung, and missed. Strike one! Who tossed it up again, swung, and missed. Strike two! And, who, on the third toss, missed again. Strike three!” Kicking a tuft of grass or two, the little boy threw down his bat, smiled, and said, “Reckon I’m the world’s greatest pitcher!”
Tip 5. Have happy-ending strategies. Injuries, getting lost, and thoughts of worry can, individually and in combination, put a damper on any camping trip. Being aware that things like this can happen is imperative to having a happy-ending. Proper camp safety - understanding mechanisms of injury – and prevention can help eliminate medical mishaps. To assist with lost-proofing, a whistle and mirror must be on everybody’s person at all times while in the wilderness. Three blasts of the whistle attract the attention of ground searchers. Three flashes of the mirror attract the attention of pilots. And, always keep in mind to tell a person or two the details of where you are going … and, when you will return.
Tip 6. Last but not least, have fun and for sure have a most bodacious adventure. Relax! Don’t try to be perfect! Go with the flow! Enjoy the experience with a positive mental attitude. And, learn from your mistakes. You’ll learn to say what I’ve said many times before: “Not gonna do that again!”