Written by Sydney Meyer
As a millennial living in the South, I’ve noticed a large camping trend that is popping up (pun intended) across the map. Texas is home to some of the best camping locations; Whether you want to party in Garner State Park, go hunting at Sabine National Forest, float the Guadalupe, or hit up the beaches of Galveston, there are beautiful places to camp all over the Lone Star State. So if you’re up for the fun and challenge, here are some essential Do’s and Don’ts that any beginner should know before heading out into the wilderness.
Don’t: pick out the cheapest tent the store has to offer. Cheap tents almost always mean that they are very small and not durable. Make sure you know the proper measurements that fit your style so you won’t be surprised when your tent “doesn’t look like it did in the pictures?” (I speak from experience on this point.) Remember: People and tents both come in all shapes and sizes and a 5’1 person won’t care about a 5’5 tent ceiling height as much as someone who is 6’3.
Do: fun activities with your cohorts! Geocaching is a great group activity, and people everywhere are getting more involved. Using the app on your phone you are probed to find locations where other people have buried treasure. The containers that hold the treasure are often camouflaged and are really cool. Once found you get to keep whatever was left, in exchange for leaving your own treasure behind for the next person who comes along. Here’s the full info on fun with geocaching – https://www.geocaching.com/play.
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Don’t: take alcohol without checking whether or not alcohol can be consumed where you are staying. State Parks have some of the best campgrounds, but almost all of them ban alcohol inside the park. The best thing you can do is call and ask the location where they stand with alcohol. Sometimes bringing alternative containers to store the liquids is all that you need to pass inspection. Here is a list of State Parks in Texas, which also has directions to locations and other useful information! http://tpwd.texas.gov/state-parks/
Do: bring supplies for fun activities, a volleyball net or soccer ball could save your trip. Honestly, camping without goodies is really just sitting in the woods.
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Don’t: be lame and only bring s’mores, hot dogs or (insert other cliché camp food). I promise, somewhere between all the physical activities and heat, you will get hungry for something more. This can be said for water as well. Buying a 56 pack of your favorite beer may seem like a really good idea at the time, but forgetting the proper water amount will make you miserable the rest of the trip. (Again, speaking from experience.)
Do: bring food and water. This is a requirement. Try to plan ahead with meals and make one person responsible for cooking one meal, this is a really cute way to save money and make sure everyone is doing their part.
Don’t: over pack miscellaneous items. Reasonable items to bring with you: candles, a radio, your trusty pocket knife, bug spray, etc… Just be careful because what you bring you’ll have to carry, then unpack, pack up, and carry again. REI has a great checklist to make sure you’re taking the essentials. http://rei.com/learn/expert-advice/family-camping-checklist.html
Do: bring a first aid kit. This seems like a no brainer, but this is something that can be easily forgotten. Once I went camping and someone in my group fell and broke their foot. It took us over two hours to load up and drive to the hospital and if we had some Advil, an ice pack, or at least an ace bandage it could’ve made a huge difference.
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Don’t: go camping and take laptops, tablets and other electronics. There are many reasons, but mostly it could get damaged being in the wild, or stolen, or ruin the whole point of being ‘one with nature’. You don’t need technology to know what is going on around you. (This includes solar panels.) For example, want to know what temperature it is? Use this trick, listen to a cricket chirping and count the number of chirps in 14 seconds and add 40 for the temperature in Fahrenheit.
Do: live it up outside! According to the Coleman Company and Outdoor foundation most words associated with camping are “campfire, fun, wilderness, friends, happiness, peace, escape, family, adventure.”
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And Finally, Don’t: be unprepared! Take a survival guide with you (because you never know when you may need it). I suggest “How to stay alive in the woods” by Bradford Angier, this book has everything you need to stay safe in the wilderness. Here’s an excerpt when making a soup hole: “You’ve just killed a moose. Hungry, you’ve a hankering for nothing quite as much as some hot soup, flavored perhaps with wild leeks whose flat leaves you see wavering nearby. Why not take the sharp end of a dead limb and scoop a small hole in the ground? Why not line this concavity with a chunk of fresh hide? Then after adding the water and other ingredients, why not let a few hot clean stones do your cooking while you finish dressing out the animal?” Most situations when camping aren’t this dire, but potentially a soup hole could come in handy.
Written By: Sydney Meyer