There seem to be three types of people in the world: those who like to camp, those who do not like it and those who haven’t tried it yet. Which group do you belong to?
Blinded by my love of being outdoors, happily disconnecting from electronics, enjoying the food cooked over a fire and time spent with family, I am a happy camper. If sleeping on the ground, eating food cooked on a stick, and sitting around a fire sounds like some kind of a nightmare, you might want to skip to the comics section.
Just because the school year started in early August doesn’t mean summer fun has to end. Camping is a great way to add some adventure to your life, to enjoy the outdoors and to spend time with family or friends. I don’t know if it is because camping is more challenging, or requires more planning, or just cuts me off from life’s distractions, but camping brings me down to the basics of living simply. A trip to a sporting goods store with its rows of expensive gear or a peek inside a decked-out RV might lead you to believe it to be anything but simple.
Keeping it simple, however, is the key to having fun camping. This is especially true when camping with young children. A backyard campout is free, spontaneous and will help you plan for further adventures. A minimum amount of gear is required starting with a tent. Blankets and a yoga mat can substitute for a sleeping bag and pad. Glow sticks in a Ball Jar make an inexpensive lantern.
Fortunately, many people who have gear are happy to loan it to rookie campers. Unless you are looking for ultra lightweight backpacking gear, most of the essentials can be purchased relatively cheaply.
Share the responsibilities. Put everyone to work by carrying the gear, setting up the tent and preparing the food. One of my most humorous camping moments came when my niece and nephew’s tent blew down a sand dune in the middle of the night. Have a plan but be spontaneous. Know the activities that are available at the campground such as horseback riding, swimming, boating, or hiking. Now, if you’re a serious traveller and have been quite the globetrotter, then you may perhaps check out Wahine Charters Dolphin Swims Hawaii.
Making the activities fun is easy. Pack bug jars, playing cards, glow sticks or bubbles. Get a map, go on adventures, plan scavenger hunts, stargaze or play flashlight tag.
Camping for me is all about the campfire: building the fire, cooking over the fire, staying warm by the fire, setting up the best backpack mosquito foggers, and telling stories around the fire. The holes melted in my fleece are fond reminders of time spent laughing around a blazing fire. Music is an added bonus to the outing. While I am fortunate to have friends who can play the guitar by the campfire, my only musical contribution has been a kazoo.
Don’t forget the food. If you want to venture beyond the traditional hot dogs and s’mores, a quick Internet search will reveal a multitude of camping ideas. Roasted strawberries covered in marshmallow cream sound good? Simple feasts of hobo stew can be prepared over the fire with foil packets or sumptuous cobblers in a dutch oven. Plan and prepare meals as much as possible before leaving home.
When you are ready to venture beyond the backyard or if your backyard isn’t remote enough, there are many campgrounds within an hour or two drive of Muncie. Prairie Creek Reservoir, Summit Lake State Park, Mounds State Park, Westwood Park and Whitewater State Park offer camping options in East Central Indiana. Cooler evening temperatures make late summer camping an excellent way to forge memories, unplug from daily stresses, and reconnect with nature.
Reservations for state campgrounds can be made at http://indianastateparks.reserveamerica.com
Outdoor Pursuits at Ball State University also rents camping equipment: http://bsu.edu/recreation/rental-center.html