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Some would say the best part about camping is setting up- I say it’s the entire process but everyone has their opinions! Here are a few things I have learned while camping:

1.) When you arrive at camp, check out all your surroundings. Make sure you aren’t camping RIGHT NEXT to the other campers. It’s like when you go to the beach. You are sitting in your chair, reading Hunger Games, taking a sip of your iced tea when all of a sudden a whole group of people sit right next to you. You think, “There is a whole entire stretch of beach- probably miles- why does MY spot look the best?” Then you get irritated, pack up your stuff, and leave without knowing who Katniss will end up with! So for my sake and yours, be courtious!

2.) While we are on the “surroundings” topic, look at your nature surroundings as well. If its hot, set up camp under a tree. Trees can also come in handy in the rain- it shields some water from pouring on you but ONLY if there isn’t lightning in the forcast- it’s EXTREMELY dangerous and you MAY get struck by lightning! Look for rabbit holes, ant hills, and anything that may come crawling out at you and steer clear. Are there bathrooms?? It may not smell now but especially in the heat, camping by a restroom isn’t the best idea (for your nose’s  sake). Are you near a path for hikers and other campers? You may want to move over some.

3.) When setting up your tent, read instructions and practice at home first. There is nothing worse than not knowing how to figure out your tent when you first get to your site! Camping should be fun and relaxing- not stressful and irritating! I let my boyfriend set up the tent- he’s a man and enjoys that sort of thing! When placing your tent on the ground, remove all big rocks out of the way. If you don’t have sleeping mats, try putting leaves underneath for extra comfort. When there is a small incline in the ground you want to make sure your sleeping bag and head will be postioned upward- unless you like sleeping upside down!

4.) Have a designated trash area and hang from a tree to keep bugs and animals away. Keep food outside of tent and hang from tree for same reasons. You may not want to place them right next to each other though.

5.) Building a fire pit? First and foremost, make sure you can have fires! A lot of places, like National Forests, don’t permit fires or they have fire seasons. If you can build fires, make sure you put back everything you used to build the fire pit (Leave No Trace) and for crying out loud be smart about it! Don’t pour lighter fluid all over it to see how high the flame can get! Visit www.smokeybear.com for fire safety tips.

6.) Make your campsite your own and make it feel like home. Have a designated eating and card game area. Add some wild flowers in a cup for a colorful and fun touch!

Happy Camping!