The roller coaster of weather here in Colorado may be smoothing out, and spring time may actually be here to stay this time. We had another snow storm on Monday night and Tuesday, then today it was in the mid 60s, and it is supposed to be in the mid 70s by the weekend. This extended winter has kept me holed up too long! My only problem is there are too many things I want to do; hunting, fishing, biking, canoeing, and camping, and all of those activities are within a short distance from my house.
I wasted half of my weekend last Sunday trying to repair my broken washing machine when I wanted to be hunting turkey. After six hours of futility, I decided it was time to put her down with a swift .357 bullet to the control box, and my new washing machine was delivered this evening. So this weekend I am going to neglect the yard work that I have to do and get out and do as many of those activities as I can.
My son Kyle and I usually take a short camping trip right as school gets out in late May. I am not sure he wants to do that this year since he is graduating from high school, we’ll see about that. But even if he doesn’t go, I will go by myself, so that got me thinking and preparing a little bit tonight for spring camping, and I thought I would share some of what I have learned over the years about camping.
For me, camping is a really good way to recharge myself mentally. I have a pretty stressful job, and usually I handle it very well, but lately the stress is getting to me, and I know I need to get away for a little bit. Just recently I snapped at a co-worker, who is also one of my best friends, and even though she forgave me, I felt bad about that for days, I still do. That is so unlike me to do something like that. I may get passionate about a lot of things, but I never snap at people like that, so I know I need some rest and relaxation.
As with any of my outdoor activities, the first thing I do is go through all of my gear to see what condition it is in, what needs to be replenished, repaired, or replaced, and to ensure everything is in its proper place. Keeping your gear well-organized is an important factor in all of your outdoor pursuits, but especially with camping. Pick an area in your garage or basement to store your gear, and build or install shelves, and then organize your gear in some kind of order; put all like items together, use storage bins for small items, and put things back in the same place when you are done using them (that is something my Dad taught me a long time ago). If your gear is well-organized, it makes a spur-of-the-moment weekend camping trip a breeze.
I am a list person, and I have lists on my computer for all the different types of trips that I take; from a day on the lake in my canoe, a day hiking, or a week long elk hunting trip. This is a really good way to stay organized with all of the different things you might do, and it is very easy to make a master list, and then modify it for each particular trip. These lists include everything I will need for the trip, like clothing, food, batteries, everything. If you are interested in seeing one of my lists to use as a template, send me an email and I will send you one.
A very effective tip I can share with you is to use large, zip lock, clear plastic bags to organize your gear. I use a lot of one gallon size bags, but there are some even larger that you can store clothes in. I use one bag for survival items, one for first aid, one for fly boxes, etc. I use larger gear bags or storage bins to store these smaller zip lock bags, and it makes finding things so much easier. This is especially true when I back-pack or go on a long hunting trip. The combination of organizing my gear, having good lists, and compartmentalizing storage enables me to be ready at any time for any type of trip.
For younger campers or families with young children, it’s a good idea to set everything up in your back yard and camp there for a night. I mentioned this in an earlier article about camping with young children; you can read that by clicking here. Doing this not only prepares you to see if you have everything you need, it is also a good way to acclimate young children to the concept of sleeping in a tent and the outdoor experience, which is something you want to make sure is worked out before you are actually on a camping trip.
I have other topics to write about regarding camping which I will share in the coming weeks, such as choosing a destination, how to select a good campsite, camping activities for young children, camp cooking, and many other topics that may interest you. My goal is to share information, but also to inspire you to get out into the wild and away from the day-to-day grind of what our lives have become. Hopefully you will find the time soon to get out; spring is a great time of year to experience the outdoors.