Summers are in and its time for Camping. If you are a newbie camper, you need to understand some basics of camping to make the experience more exciting and fun. And yeah, camping is fun, if you know how to pick the tools as per the requirements of your trip.
Where Do I Start From?
Most intriguing question is the starting point. And often, the overwhelm of the start leads one to quit upon the idea. So, where should you actually start from? Should you start packing your personal stuff first, or the camping gear? How to go to the place? Should you hire a vehicle or take your own? For a new camping enthusiast, these questions can look like a Big list of horrifying questions, but its easy to prepare if you give yourself a humble start. Take a time to answer these questions and you will be able to comfortably sail through.
- Which place to go for Camping?
- What will be the duration- Weekend or More?
- Who all will go- Solo, Family, Group
- What is the weather at present?
- Who takes the lead role in the trip?
- How to reach the camping spot?
- Can you navigate?
- Staying Overnight
- Camping Equipment to Carry?
- Food essentials to Carry?
- Medicines to Carry?
- Can you attend to basic emergency situations?
Sit down with a cup of coffee, and jot down the answers to all these questions. Take your time to be meticulous as you will hold the entire road-map to your trip. This basic set of questions will help you to choose a trip which can be of your comfort level, and capability.
Tip: Remember, if you are travelling in a group, the efficiency of that group is that of the weakest member. So, your plans will fluctuate according to that person.
Where to Go?
For a newbie Summer Camper, I would suggest that choose a place, which is easily approachable, within 75-100 Km from your house and can give you the feel of camping on your own. Venturing into a completely unfamiliar zone right at the start may put you and team to jeopardy. So, start slow, start basic.
A city excursion can be the best place to start with. Try a place which is not too far away from the main road, and allows you a road trip up to the camping site. It should allow you to get back to a safer place in short time, if you require to do so. Other good places to try for a camp site are a beach head, lagoon, nearby lake in your area, or a jungle camp.
How to plan the Routes?
Recce is an inseparable part of any adventure activity. No matter how trivial it may seem in the map, the ground is always different. If you have kids along, it is better, you try out a place where you have been to more or less a few times, and know the routes in and out, so that, you as a leader of the team must not be confused about the routes at all.
Clearly demarcate the routes that you plan to follow during the activity, so that you are sure how to get in and out of a place. A little bit of map reading will always help. In subsequent articles, I shall be covering how to use easy reference maps as guides for your help. It is also a good practice, to mark the points on the Google Map on your mobile, in order to plan out your trip better. When you plan your camping site, try looking for at least some of these things (Not all will be available all the time):-
- Source of Water.
- A flat area or a place where you can pitch your tent.
- Route in and out of the place.
- Connectivity to the main road.
- Ambient Light Source. (Apart from the source of light you will carry)
What all should I carry?
That will completely depend upon the duration of the tour. A good camping equipment must not only be easy to install, but also is fun to make. It will allow your team to be involved, interested and actively participate in the activity. Also, that depends upon the level of the camping activity you plan to undertake. I write down the essentials here. Anything that you add over and above must suit the requirements of the camping site.
- Camp Tent
- Camp Stool
- Sleeping Bags
- Route Chart, Maps and Compass
- A hot case with food plates and cutlery (Check out this cool cutlery for a change)
- Ready to Eat Meals.
- Water Bags
- Medicine Box
- Swiss Knife and Wire cutters
- Ropes and some steel wire
- Small pick axes
- Torch Lights and Solar Lantern
- Fire Match
- Some fuel like Kerosene
These are some of the essentials. Whenever you start arranging your camping equipment, remember to list down the basic items first, and then add upon the accessories. You will find by the end of the exercise, a lot will require to be packed. So, starting with the basics will help you to decide how much weight will need to be carried.
Once you decide upon how much load you need to carry, you can then redistribute the load equally, among your team, so that each one has the equal amount of load to carry (And also, equal amount of challenge).
Are You Ready?
Once you are packed and ready, it is time to reach the camping site. If you are a solo camper, then it will be a good idea to check the load, as you will be carrying it all alone, then in that case, some things will have to be managed from the camp site itself, when you are camping in a group, you can always share the equipment to be carried.
After start your small first time camping fun, make sure you take a note of the environment around. Take a note of the points you see, like the road bends, tree barks, milestones, you encounter. Mark them on a piece of paper if you have to, so that the path taken is clearly known to you (and your team!). Apart from what you had done earlier, this will help you to be prepared when you are making a way back. It will be a good idea to make the way-points like a small map, so that you are able to get a picture of the surroundings and orient yourself accordingly.
What after I reached the Campsite?
Explore the possibility of locating yourself close to a water source. This will help you for your stay along the camp site. You are going to need the water you carry. Use it judiciously. Consider it like money, which is a scarce resource in hand. Every drop you spend makes all the difference. You need water for cooking and drinking too.
Look for a grass land, if possible. Avoid moist places, as they are housing for reptiles, you do not want to rent their houses for stay after all !!! A grassland would generally have a softer soil, making it easier for you to size up the area for tent pitching.
Once you pitch and hoist your tent, another great idea would be to make a snake trench around, a small channel dug out along the periphery of the tent, which avoids snakes from getting into your tent. Now
Then, what you need is a fire-place. Fire, apart from being a source of cooking also keeps the ‘unwanted visitors’ away and provides you with the necessary warmth should the night gets colder,.
After you have set up the camp site and fire-place, you need to collect some firewood from around the area to charge your fire-place. You will be getting thirsty while you set up your tents, so keep ‘sipping’ water, do not gulp down all. Remember, conservation is the key. The fire-wood should be dry enough to catch fire quickly, Apart from small logs, dry branches help in catching fire easily. Remember, you also added a small kerosene bottle in your kitty when you packed your stuff? Now is the time you will use it. The fire should be able to last at least half the night. It provides a natural guard and also keeps the area warm at night.
Inside the Tent
Make yourself comfortable. After-all, you have worked hard enough for the day and deserve a good sleep. A solar lantern when charged during the day can last as long as 8 hours. Set up the lantern on charging during the day and it will light you up during the night. While you lay out the inside of the tent, make sure it has been properly sealed from all sides, to prevent water, or insects, snakes etc from moving inside. Quilts and Sleeping Bags provide you with the necessary comfort of the night and I suggest, if it keeps you safe, its worth the weight on your shoulders.
Safety at the Campsite
Any adventure activity can be more full of fun, if you take all measures to plan your safety. Any injury or scratch should not be taken lightly and you must treat it with your medicines. A first aid at the very moment of injury can save you a lot of trouble later on. Some important tips that you can refer to when you set up your camp site
- Do not place the fire-point very close to the tent, especially, when the tent material is nylon. It catches fire immediately and even a spark can do the job. A 75 yards distance takes care of both the things, safety from animals, as well as protection to tent.
- Check the tree-tops for beehives. Do not set up a fire place there. You do not want to venture around at such places at all.
- Do not haste while you use your camping tools, wire cutters, steel ropes, shovels etc. You can take a little rest if you have to and start again, but do not injure yourself.
- Basic rules of fire apply here too. Do not wear clothing which can spark a flare on you.
- Check the source of water, whether it can be used for camping purposes or not. If not, you must avoid using it at all. A site next to the running water source is much better than stagnant water source.
- Do not forget to carry mosquito repellents. Near the water source, the chances of mosquito breeding are high. Avoid getting ill on a holiday.
- Check the tent doors before you go off to sleep. Also, check the fire, if it is slightly glowing or not, to avoid animals approaching.Another good idea is to keep a whistle or horn to alert the group if there is a need in emergency.
- Ensure a headcount to check that all people have closed in at night.
Environment and You
Last but not the least, respect the environment. It has blessed us with a good camping site with a natural beauty around to rejoice the gifts of nature. When you complete your trip, do not forget to properly dispose off the paper plates, waste food, plastics and water bottles in a safe place. It will be a great idea (and very thoughtful of you) if you carry all plastic bags and bottles with you when you are returning, and put them for recycling. You must only dispose off biodegradable material by burning. Rest you must carry with yourself. Some useful tips that can help to preserve environment better and allow others to venture the campsite can be
- Close the toilet pits or the washing areas with loose soil before you leave. Let others too enjoy the beauty of the spot by keeping it as it was before you came here.
- Do not burn plastic bags, polythene wrappers at the camp site. Just carry them with you and dispose it off with the ‘Waste Management People’.
- Do not litter the place with fruit skins, paper plates, cups and glasses as animals might try to eat them.
- Fill up the snake trenches to level the ground before you leave the camp site.
- Set off the fire properly. Do not leave it for the dry grass or the fire might spread.
And above all, enjoy the moment. As you camp in between the nature, take your time to observe and learn, how nature works. It will make a lot of difference in your perspective. Nature has its own ways to manifest the beauty. It just requires the right eye to observe, and then it becomes the right moment of your life…..