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Your Camping Check List
To the untrained eye, the activity of going camping is an exercise in chaos. When you look at a camp site, your average city slicker will recoil in horror at the idea of sleeping on the ground, cooking with coals or fire and living out there where animals live. If you watch an experienced camper, it seems that being organized is the last thing on his mind. You might even make the big mistake of thinking that a camping enthusiast is someone who a bit of a bum who wants to get away from the organized life at home.
To be sure, the life of a camping family is more relaxed than life at home. But this isn’t a function of being organized. The reason camping is so relaxing and fun for tens of thousands every year is that it is a way of getting away from the hundreds of chores and little duties that constantly take up our time at home. By going away to a camp ground, we have limited possessions, the process of taking care of our daily needs is much simpler than at home and it gives everyone in the group the chance to kick back, relax and enjoy nature the way God intended for us to enjoy it.
The impression that a camper is disorganized could not be any further from the truth. In fact, those who camp frequently are some of the most organized vacationers you will ever meet. A good camping family has developed over time a precise knowledge of what is needed on a campout, how to pack those materials so you can get to what you need when you need it and, and this may be the most important thing, what is NOT needed and what can be left at home.
The heart of a camper’s organization system is the check list. This may seem like a somewhat bookish tool but your camping check list is a simple and reliable method that you can develop from camp out to camp out to refine your technique of camping until it becomes a well oiled operation. Actually it is the wrong impression to refer to “the camper’s check list” in the singular because seasoned campers keep several types of check lists updated and ready to use for each new camp out.
The Preparation Check List.
This is arguably the most important camping check list and one you will want to edit and update with each new camp out. A camp out can be a success or failure based on how well you prepare. Every aspect of the camping experience should be covered in this check list. Obviously, you will have a detailed list of camping equipment including tents, sleeping bags, flashlights and camp fire materials. If you are cooking, you may have supplies that are unique to outdoor cooking such as your Coleman stove, designated pots, pans and utensils and clean up supplies.
In addition, it’s always good to preplan all of your meals so think through each meal and how to prepare for that experience in a camping environment. This list will help you do that camp out shopping trip so you are prepared for each meal as well as prepared with snacks and other bodily needs in the wild. Above all do not forget plenty of drinking water as you can’t count on finding clean water once you get there. As a rule, a gallon a day for every two campers is pretty good guideline. Finally, make sure your safety equipment and supplies are in good standing. From your emergency kit to simple things like band aids and Gold Bond anti itch powder, these little things make life so much more bearable if there are little problems in camp.
The Camp Site Check List
Setting camp should become a routine in which everybody in the family knows their job. But there are certain disciplines that should be noted on your Camp Set Up Check List that you absolutely never overlook. Obviously you are going to set up your tent and lay out your gear to turn an empty camp site into a home. But before the site is picked or the tents go up, you will need to inspect the area to assure you are camping on high ground to avoid flooding and that you aren’t pitching your tent over a fire ant colony. The fire ring should be built and fire wood collected and put under protection from a heavy due or rain so you can have a nice morning fire if you want one. The rituals of setting camp will evolve as you get better at camping so this check list is a good one to protect in a plastic sleeve or laminate so it can live in camp and be there to remind you of every safety and convenience precaution you should take to assure you have a great camp out experience.
The Daily Check List
This is another camping check list that does better if it is protected as you will need it handy to remember each day’s essential duties. Each morning you can assemble your “crew” and go through their assignments of the day. The kids may be sent out to get more firewood and the adults might inspect the tents to make any minor repairs if there were problems in the night. Changes to the camp site lay out may be desired if problems were discovered after the first night’s sleep outdoors. Daily cleaning, preparation for each meal and security duties that must be done faithfully each day should be given a priority position on your daily in-camp check list.
The Return Home Check List
When you get home, everybody will be tired and want little more than a good shower and to sit in their favorite chair. The kids will be eager to see television again or to get on the computer to get caught up with their online emails and blogs. But before anyone can be released to “become civilized” again, gear must be stored, cleaned and the remains of the camp out must be taken care of. If you brought trash home, that should be properly disposed of and the vehicle will probably need to be cleaned. It is important that everybody knows that the camp out isn’t over until everything is put away, clean, repaired and ready to be used again next time.
Well thought out preparation for your campout both before, during and after the trip will not only reduce stress tremendously during the adventure, it will make you better campers and better prepared for anything that can come up while living in the wilderness. And it will ease your anxiety when you think, “What was that thing we forgot to bring last time?” By keeping your check lists updated and refreshed with your newest camping experience, you will know that your preparations are as good as they can be and head out for your adventure with confidence.