Campfires can be a great addition to your Campout. Below are some tips to get the most out of your campfire experience. Be sure to check with the campground manager or the local forest service about possible restrictions due to forest fire hazards.
- Keep the fire small.
- Softwoods, like pine, fir, and cedar, are best for starting a fire.
- Have water available to extinguish the fire properly.
- Never leave a fire unattended.
- Maintain a debris-free area around the fire, so sparks cannot ignite vegetation and spread the fire.
- Make sure ashes are cold when you leave the fire.
- Build fires only in fire rings, stoves or fireplaces.
- Use only dead wood lying on the ground. Do not cut live trees, or branches from trees near the campsite.
- Start the fire by building a small teepee of dry sticks and igniting it with a match. As the fire gets started, add larger pieces of wood.
- Extinguish all fires by pouring water on them, stirring the ashes and pouring more water.
- Leave your fire ring clean for the next campers.
Camping with kids is great family fun. We are all kids at heart when it's time to go camping, but when your camping trip includes young children, some extra planning and precautions will make the trip more fun and memorable.
Here are some additional tips to help you start thinking ahead about camping with children:
- Teach young children to stay within eyesight, and older children within earshot.
- Teach children to stay where they are if they discover they are lost. Instruct them to find a nearby tree and stay with it until they are found.
Children over the age of four can carry a simple survival kit, or at least a whistle around their neck to call for help when lost. The standard distress signal is three blows to indicate "I'm lost" or "I need help.
- Sort and pack each day of your children's clothes within individual small plastic grocery bags in his/her suitcase. This way your child can grab a bag in the morning and have a full set of clothes for the day, and at night he/she can stuff the dirty ones back in the bag, thus not mixing up the rest of the suitcase.
- Children get cold faster than adults. The key to comfortable camping with kids is to dress them in several layers, which can be peeled off as they get warm or added on as they cool off.
- Provide each child with a flashlight. To prevent any arguments, make sure each one has their own.
Children love to play with flashlights, and having one also makes them more at ease after dark.
Your camping tent will be your house and home. The tent you choose will probably be the most important piece of gear you buy. A good tent, taken care of properly, will last a lifetime. A good tent will let you sleep soundly at night without needing to worry about rain, wind, bugs or other creatures of the night. Select the best tent you can afford, set it up properly, take care of it, and then just enjoy your trip.
Here are some tips to help you get off to a good start:
Set up a new tent at home before your trip. This lets you check its condition, and learn how to set it up without the pressure of darkness or rain at camp.
The seams on all nylon tents must be sealed before using a new tent, and periodically thereafter. Seam sealer is sold in applicator bottles, which you rub along the inside of all waterproof seams.
Avoid setting up camp next to stagnant water, which is home to biting insects.
Don't set up the tent on a sandbar or in a dry wash. The water will probably rise if it rains. Dry washes can flash flood due to a rain storm many miles away.
Don't set up the tent in a low spot or depression. Rainwater will collect under the tent and soak through into your sleeping bag.
During bug season, you might want to take a gazebo. This is essentially a rain tarp with mosquito netting on all sides, to provide shelter from bugs, rain and the sun.
Put a plastic tarp on the ground under the tent. It should match the "footprint" of the tent so that it doesn't gather rainwater. This groundsheet protects the floor of your tent from stones, sticks, and general wear and tear.
You can get special stake-driving mallets, or use a plain old household hammer, to pound tent stakes into the ground.
Don't use your axe for driving stakes. This can damage the axe head, and possibly cause it to fly off.
Get the sturdiest aluminum tent stakes possible. Most campgrounds build sites with gravel, and this hard ground will bend or break most lightweight and plastic stakes.
The rainfly is a special tarp that is spread over the top of the tent to make it waterproof. Most tents come with a matching rainfly included. The rainfly should allow the tent windows to remain open for ventilation while protecting the seams from potential leaks.
Use a stake puller to help pull tent stakes out of the ground, or just loop a short rope under the stake's hook and pull on the rope to pull up the stake.
Keep a whiskbroom in the tent for sweeping out dirt and leaves.
Use an old towel or small piece of carpet as a door mat for wiping off feet before entering the tent.
Some of our most memorable camping experiences have been the unexpected sighting of a wild animal: a black bear scurrying away from the trail or a tiny Key deer wandering through our camp.
But such sightings can’t be predicted, nor should they ever be encouraged. They are a happy bit of serendipity that you just have to wait for. That said, there are public lands where you are likely to see animals, particularly in the West. For instance, you can see free-roaming bison herds in Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming, Henry Mountains in Utah, and Custer State Park in South Dakota - one of the largest bison herds in the world.
Walk quietly in any woods, and you’re likely to see a white-tailed deer darting across the trail or leaping gracefully through the woods. As tempting as it is to get closer to that herd of elk or bison or to try to pet a tame deer, we need to observe wildlife from afar.
Observe from a Distance
- Use binoculars, or document the sighting using a camera with a zoom lens.
- Hike and camp away from obvious animal paths, water sources, and signs like droppings or claw marks.
- If spooked, animals like deer, elk, bison, or moose can become very dangerous and even charge you with their antlers or horns.
- More humans are injured by these animals than by predators like bear, mountain lions, or wolves.
Teach children early on to observe through quiet observation and to never approach, try to touch, or feed wildlife. As stated elsewhere in this book, animals that become habituated to humans eventually become aggressive and may have to be euthanized.
- Observe wildlife from a distance.
- Do not follow or approach them.
- Never feed animals (store food and trash securely).
Control pets at all times.
- Avoid wildlife during sensitive times: mating, nesting, raising young, or winter.
BEWARE OF DANGER
These are dangerous and sometimes unpredictable animals, so be wary if you see them. Humans have very few predators, and nearly all wild animals you’ll encounter in North America would just as soon avoid you.
There are some exceptions, however. In some parts of the country, grizzly bears, alligators and mountain lions are valid fears since they are aggressive animals and their attacks have been fatal. The danger becomes more pronounced in areas where human population centers are expanding into formerly wild territory.
As stated previously, whenever a wild animal becomes habituated to human contact or learns to associate humans with food or trash, there is potential for unpleasant encounters.
However, don’t let irrational fears keep you out of the woods or the water. There are specific recommended steps you can take to avoid them.
Below are some of the more dangerous North American animals, how to identify them, and how to avoid them. If you encounter an aggressive animal, report it to authorities. It may need to be relocated or euthanized to protect other campers and hikers.
- Venomous snakes are common throughout Malaysia.
- Venomous snakes usually have patterns, but not all patterned snakes are poisonous.
- Stay on the trail, avoid walking through tall grass, and be careful walking on rocks warmed by the sun. Rocks warmed by the sun are a favorite hang-out for rattlers.
Important note about pets and wild animals:
Always keep your pet on a leash so that it doesn’t chase wildlife or get into a fight with a potentially dangerous animal. At one time or another, most dogs get a mouthful of porcupine quills, which will require a trip to the vet to have them removed under anesthesia. Although skunks are not dangerous, when a dog gets sprayed, it can certainly ruin a camping trip.
Weather can be very unpreditctable, but don't let that stop you from planning a campout! Some of the best memories can happen when it's raining. Just make sure you're prepared and stay up to date on the latest forecast. Below are some tips and rules of thumbs when it comes to camping in different types of weather.