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Making The Most Of Rainy Weather
There is just no getting around it. If you are going to make camping a part of your family life, you are going to be spending a lot of time outdoors. Part of the adventure of camping out is that you don’t have control over nature or weather. Just about anything can happen in a camp out from a wandering raccoon to a freak hail storm to a noisy owl in the tree to a sudden downpour. So to keep the spirit of camping fun and adventuresome, you have to know how to turn set backs into excitement and fun for all involved.
It isn’t often easy for city people to get used to just letting nature be nature. But that is one thing that camping does for us. Because you are out IN nature and you cannot just go over and turn a dial and adjust the temperature or other parts of your environment, camping teachings us to be flexible and to learn to cope and enjoy even changes in weather that we might not have wanted. And if you are going to camp very much, inevitably you are going to be dealing with a rainy camp out.
The old boy scout motto of “be prepared” must have been coined when it comes to camping. A sudden rainstorm does have the potential of putting a damper on everybody’s spirits if you don’t anticipate things like that happening and have your equipment in tip top shape to give you protection from the rain. If you are in a pop up or camper, your annual waterproofing of that equipment will go a long way.
But you can also prepare your family tent for rain well in advance. Take some time in the back yard and set up the tent before your camping trip so you can inspect the seams and the canvas for holes. Your local camping or sporting goods store sells sealant that you can use to make repairs and do a general seam sealant treatment. It’s a good idea to give your tent this treatment at least once a year. Then comes the fun part. When you have done your repairs and let them dry, let the kids go inside and seal up the tent. Then turn on the hose and give the tent a good soaking. The kids inside will not only have a ball being subjected to the test but they can point out any leaks that spring up. By getting the repairs done before heading to your camp site, you can camp with confidence.
But you are not done being prepared for rain or stormy conditions with the good work you did at home. When you arrive at the camp site, do some inspections before you set camp. Don’t just pick the first cozy spot near the picnic table. Think in advance about how that spot will do in the event of a storm that might come up in the night. Some considerations include…
- Stay out of gullies. They might look cozy but they might be dried out creek beds. If a sudden wash out rain storm comes in, your cozy bedroom could be come the middle of a fast moving creek.
- Camp on high ground. Consider the run off possibilities if rain comes. Ask yourself if there is a chance you will see water coming down the hill and invade into your tent.
- Look up. The trees above provide nice shade but look for dead limbs. A windy storm could dislodge those limbs and send them crashing down on your tent. Not only is this a camp out disaster, it could be quite dangerous.
Set your camp to be prepared to resist a storm. If you have a rain fly, use it. Take a large tarp that is bigger than the floor of your tent. Lay it out and pitch your tent over it. This will help keep the water out of the inside of your sleeping quarters should you have rain in the night.
For adults camping out, an afternoon rainstorm is an ideal excuse to take a nice leisurely nap in the tent. There is nothing like that sound of raindrops on the canvas to serenade you to sleep. But if you have children or teenagers along, you should come prepared to provide alternative entertainment should the rain postpone that hike or fishing adventure they had been looking forward to. Some ways to turn their disappointment around are…
- Leave plenty of time in the schedule. By allowing lots of time around events, you can reschedule an outdoor event for when the rain passes and keep from facing a sea of pouting faces when the weather changes your plans.
- Pack some games to pass the time. Even in a tent, a game of cards can help everyone enjoy the atmosphere of sitting out the rainstorm without packing it in and heading to the mall.
- Look for alternative events. In many public parks there are nature centers, aquariums, tours lead by the naturalist and other things you can do that are indoors or do not require you to have so much exposure to the weather.
Part of the fun of finding new ways to enjoy changes in weather is that it teaches the younger campers with you that you are out there to learn to adapt and that it is fun to figure out what you are going to do in diverse situations. Now, as parents, you may have to let down your cleanliness standards a little bit because nobody will be able to completely avoid the mud that happens in a rainy camp out situation. But by packing plenty of extra clothes (including clean shoes that you keep in the car just for this type of situation), you can keep the soiled garments contained in trash bags until you get home to clean everybody up.
And don’t forget to look for some of the really cool things that happen in nature during or just after a rain fall. You may see deer out to enjoy a nice drink in a gentle falling rain. What a wonderful picture taking opportunity that would afford. The rain can be a huge help in cooling down a summer campout so be sure to count your blessings if it helps with your overheating. And be on the look out for rainbows. A delightful display in the sky will be a memory you and your family will remember forever.