I posted a photo from a recent camping adventure and was surprised at how may people told me they had never been camping before! Growing up with two families that loved the outdoors my days camping as a kid are some of my fondest memories. Whether it was backpacking with my mom and sister through the Adirondacks in upstate NY or on Steamboat Lake with a gaggle of brothers and friends, there was nothing better than roasting marshmallows and burgers over the fire and sleeping in a tent while the rain came down around us. Now, I think it's easy on the internet to hyper-focus on the positive aspects of something without touching on the parts that weren't so great - because the photos are so beautiful. The reality is that camping can be tough, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't do it - even more reason to get out there, but I just wanted to share a few of my least favorite aspects of camping, and how be prepared and make the best of them.
Fact #1: I really don't like sleeping on the ground. I've tried a lot of high end sleeping pads but nine times out of ten my back ends up in spasm the next day and I've suffered through quite a few hikes looking like the hunchback of the mountain by the time I'm done. There is nothing wrong with bringing an air mattress when car camping, or getting a XL sleep pad if you roll over a lot. Do whatever you need to do to be comfortable - there's no shame in that.
Fact #2: Camping is wet. I woke up one morning in the Adirondacks to hiking shoes which were mini swimming pools for frogs or whatever other small creatures would like to splash around in their water-logged depths. My sister, for how much I love her, still manages to forget her rain coat on almost every overnight excursion we go on... and we live in New England - where "rain rain go away" is a lullaby. Extra layers, as much rain gear as you need and several pairs of dry socks are necessities. Also - don't forget to hang up sleeping bags/tents etc... when you get home or you will be faced with mildew-y odors that are rather unpleasant the next time you venture out into the wilderness.
Fact #3: BUGS, TICKS, POISON IVY, BURNS... Because of the mild winter New England experienced, the bugs, ticks etc.. are out with a vengeance this season. Bug spray that defends not only against mosquitos but also ticks is a great idea(that means DEET my friends) as well as long layers and checking yourself, your dogs and your friends for those pesky little bugs. Long layers also defend well against poison ivy - and if you think you may have gotten into it find a water source as wash off, and change your clothes if possible. Burns - Wear sunscreen even if it's cloudy, and bring the right cooking utensils/tongs etc... to avoid fire burns as well. Bring a homemade first aid kit with you - ours has: advil, bandages, tape, benadryl, emergenc, neosporin, anti-itch cream, matches, and a few other odds and ends.
In short, climate change is real, heathcare is affordable and love is love. And camping can be really fun if you are well prepared! If you've never been camping I challenge you to get out this summer, find a state park near you, reserve a spot and hop to it! You can rent gear from university outing clubs, EMS, REI etc... no need to buy a bunch of gear if you aren't going to go camping frequently. Most campsites have charcoal grills which are a breeze to cook over and sell their own firewood. If you have any questions, please comment below. Camping professionals see something I missed - please add it in the comment section!
Also - for a little inspiration to get out there watch this film now!!
All opinions and photographs are my own. ©Gretchen Powers 2016