As the temperature outside has begun to drop, I have been inspired to go outside more. I spend more time in my hammock and more time on my bicycle, but I am most excited to get out and go camping. I am sure that many went camping over fall break, but if it is still in your future and you want some tips before going out into God’s great creation, I have got them here.
I would not be doing you a favor to suggest camping and not inform you of the university’s policy on camping, which reads as follows from the Residence Life Handbook:
“Students must notify the Office of Student Life and receive approval by noon on Friday before leaving. Before the camping trip, students must provide their destination, approximate return date/time, and a list of all campers with residence hall information and cell phone number for each student. The RLC must receive a phone call from the parent of each student. University policy regarding visitation between members of the opposite sex still applies.”
If you have never been camping before, I suggest you go with people who have because they are likely to know some good locations and can help you. On that note, when you go camping make sure at least one person in your group has some basic first-aid knowledge. You do not want to get stuck two hours out from civilization and not know how to take care of yourself in case of an emergency.
The best way to prepare for camping is to do some research before you go and equip yourself for worse conditions than you expect. Know what kind of campsite you are going to and what is allowed and provided there. You do not want to get fined for building a campfire during a burn ban when you could have just checked online beforehand. As for getting equipped, I always pack for one step worse than I expect. If I expect it to be an overnight low of 40 degrees, I pack for freezing temperatures. If I expect a drizzle I will prepare for a downpour. If you need details on what to pack and for what conditions, there are many resources online like the Expert Advice on www.rei.com.
If you are a competent camper but want to amp up your outdoor experience, I suggest you start to take some of these next steps. A way to really bring a bit of luxury to the outdoors is to cook a meal more complex than a hotdog on a stick. Try making hobo dinners by putting a couple of hamburger patties, some veggies, and plenty of liquid and dry seasoning in a gallon Ziploc bag the afternoon before you head out.
Bring along some aluminum foil and aluminum pie pans. Build yourself a fire and cook your pre-packed meal in the pie pans over the fire. Cover them in the foil while cooking to keep in the moisture. The truly brave should attempt pizza in a Dutch oven or even apple turnovers.
Your camping experience will be greatly improved by the good company of others. For those wishing to find a new place to go, www.arkansas.com is a great resource for finding public and private campgrounds in the state.