Camping is one of America?s favorite family pastimes. Five years ago, there were approximately 40 million campers on a total of 515 million outings, and that number has grown annually. While some people enjoy solo camping and others go with dates or groups of friends, the largest type of camping group is families. In 2011, American families spent a total 534.9 million days camping together. Another statistic to note is that over 70 percent of this camping is done in public campgrounds, with people traveling an average of 185 miles to camp. While those numbers are impressive, they don?t reflect the real joy of camping, which is simply being outdoors.
Camping is good for the soul. It?s a great setting in which to spend quality time with others, away from the distractions and stressors of daily life. Being outdoors sharpens your senses and refreshes your mindset. Shady campsites and meandering streams, breezy forests and sunny mountainsides all do wonders for one?s state of mind.
So what does it take to get to those shady campsites you dream of? Not much, really. Some simple but important supplies, and a beautiful location. People mean different things when they say ?camping;? it might indicate a variety of lodgings and amenities, from luxury cabins to recreational vehicles, to handmade lean-to?s, but for the most part, people usually think of tent camping as the traditional mode of shelter.
Tent sites for camping can be found at many public parks and campgrounds, as well as private facilities, and many outdoor adventure or tour companies can help arrange tent camping spaces before you venture out.
The other thing to think about before heading off for those shady campsites is the gear you?ll need, besides a tent. While there are lots of things that are nice to have, it?s not good to make your pack too heavy or make your trip too complicated. So before you fill up your available space with convenience items, start with the basics.
Here is a quick list of the seven most important components of camping gear:
First Aid Kit: Don’t go without one, and be sure it?s well stocked before you pack. Don?t skimp on this item; it could literally save your life. Be sure that you take it with you any time you leave the base campsite for hiking or other activities.
Pocket Knife: A small multi-purpose knife is essential for just about everything you need to do, from opening a can to cutting a length of rope and more. Be sure it?s in good condition, opens and closes easily, and doesn?t have bent blades.
Light: Be sure to bring a flashlight, headlamp, or lantern. It?s okay to have one of each, as they are useful for different situations. Make sure you have extra batteries.
Waterproof Matches: Without a fire, your options for eating, purifying water, and staying warm are drastically reduced. You may know how to start a fire by rubbing two sticks together, that doesn?t work well in wet conditions.
Rope: Even a medium length piece of mid-weight rope has infinite uses, from clothesline to connecting and fastening items.
Maps and Compass: Even if you think you know the area, and even if you think your mobile device will receive a signal to use GPS technology, you should have a paper map of the area and a compass. It takes up very little room and may very well be the difference between life and death.
Water: The most important thing of all. If you have a guaranteed source of water at site, be sure to include water purification tablets just in case, and carry some bottled water with you anyway.
After making sure these are all carefully packed, along with food and minimal clothing ? don?t forget rain gear and socks as well as sturdy shoes–see what room you have left. Then you can bring extra clothing, convenience items like an air mattress, or entertainment such as books or games.
There are many places to find those shady campsites of your dreams, beautiful locations perfect for family vacations. America is rich with amazing places to camp, and there are a variety of ways to make it happen, either by planning it yourself or with the assistance of a camping vacation travel specialist or adventure company.
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