Saturday, June 24, join the National Wildlife Federation (NWF) in the great outdoors by participating in the Great American Campout. A day outdoors is beneficial to physical and mental health and more. You can experience these benefits whether you camp in your own backyard or visit a national park and pitch a tent to spend the night in a beautiful natural setting. Besides, the more we know about the natural world the more likely we are to take actions to conserve and protect it. It’s a win-win for us and the planet.
Visit the National Wildlife Federation’s website, www.nwf.org/Great-American-Campout.aspx, to take the pledge to go camping this year. By taking the pledge you’ll be entered to win an RV or a weeklong stay at a Jellystone Park of your choice. Your campout can be listed as private or public. Public campouts are listed at the NWF site and are great ways to meet other outdoor enthusiasts.
This year, you can also help wildlife directly with your pledge. If the NWF receives at least 150,000 pledges they will plant 5,000 native trees for the Trees for Wildlife program. These trees will help restore habitat spaces providing food and shelter for wildlife.
Camping can be a lot of fun, especially with family and friends in tow. There are so many styles of camping now that you’re sure to find a location to please even the most demanding member of your group. If you’re really adventurous you could choose primitive camping which is basically staying at a place with no running water, electricity, or bathroom facilities. You typically camp at a remote location and provide everything for yourself. Consider the physical ability of your companions while choosing a site since many require you to park then hike in.
You also may go to the other extreme and try “glamping” (glamourous camping), which provides all the basic comforts from home in an outdoor setting. In this case, you might stay in a yurt, teepee, treehouse, cabin, RV or other variation of a basic living space that usually includes comfortable beds and other small luxuries. Some glamping locations offer a village atmosphere with multiple units in a central area, while others are single isolated cabins offering extra peace and quiet. Glamping is more expensive than primitive camping with rates similar to the cost of a hotel night.
To find a camping spot near you visit the Georgia State Parks website, www.gastateparks.org, or America’s State Parks at www.stateparks.org. Other websites that may help you plan a campout are Hipcamp, www.hipcamp.com, Go Camping America, www.gocampingamerica.com, Mobile RVing, www.mobilerving.com, and Glamping, www.glamping.com.
Prepare for your campout by learning about the amenities available at the camping site and pack accordingly. No matter where you’re going it’s helpful to think about these five areas: Shelter, Food Preparation, Clothing, Personal (Hygiene), and Fun Extras. Shelter, for example, may include packing items like a tent, sleeping bag, camping chairs, and a flashlight with extra batteries. The personal category may include items like a first aid kit, prescription medications, bug spray, and toilet paper.
Keep in mind that not all camping sites will have trash cans nearby and that you are expected to carry out what you carry in. Always take trash bags with you to collect trash at your campsite and remove it when you leave. Food preparation is probably the area that in the end will result in the most amount waste. To reduce the amount of waste during your camping trip take as many reusable items as possible. For example, instead of paper plates and plastic utensils that will be used once then thrown away, take reusable plates and silverware that can be washed and used again.
Don’t forget to have fun out there! You can pack board games, playing cards, glow sticks, a radio, field guides, and binoculars. Bird watching, observing wildlife, cooking a meal over a campfire, exploring, or making a nature bracelet are just a few of the activities you can enjoy with the family. Young children may benefit by making a nature journal to write about and draw their observations while outside.
No matter what, remember to relax, enjoy your time outdoors, and remember that we are all part of the natural world.