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We all love to go camping—especially in the days of portable electronic devices, it can be relaxing to unplug and simply enjoy nature and life! At any time of year, a few days camping in the woods can be a much-needed getaway.


A typical example of wildlife encountered on camping trips.

It is wise to take precautions when camping, though. Here are some important tips on how to have a fun and safe camping trip:

-Set up shelter before it gets dark outside. Trust us, you don’t want to set up a campsite after it’s pitch black! Plan to arrive at your camping destination with at least a few hours of daylight to spare, so that you will be ready to set up your tent or other shelter in time for dusk. Then you’ll be ready to go in time to enjoy some campfire-roasted dinner!

-Be sure to have a proper sleeping bag. The right variety of sleeping bag will vary based on the season and local weather—what may be an excellent warm sleeping bag on a frigid night in the Great Plains may be ruined by a rainy night of camping in the Pacific Northwest! Be aware of the demands of your chosen camping time and location.


The natural scenery found at campsites provides a tranquil break from everyday life.

-Know your enemies. Specifically, it pays to be aware of what things in the wilderness can and can’t kill you. If you plan to eat or cook with plants and mushrooms found in the wild, be very diligent in educating yourself on which types are safe to consume. The same is true for the animals in the wild, although beyond which are safe to eat (not many, unless it’s also hunting season in an approved area), it is important to know which are dangerous. This includes not just wolves and bears, but insects and spiders as well.

-Don’t get lost. But if you do, be sure to have a contingency plan. If you are camping with a group, be sure to have a buddy system if possible, and an agreed-upon procedure for what to do if anyone becomes lost. Although it’s nice to leave electronic devices at home, some sort of communication device—a cell phone works if you get a signal—should be on hand.

-Safety is always the first priority when camping, but this is especially so if you take kids or pets along! Never let a pet or a child outside of your supervision on a camping trip. Even if your dog or cat is accustomed to roaming the outdoors, the game changes on campsites. Many local animals may pose considerably more danger to your pets and children than those found near your home, so be cautious!

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