Plan, Pack and Go!
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Recently my family and I went on a weekend adventure. For four days we exchanged the comforts of home for the beauty of the great outdoors. We went camping. There is something wonderful about the sounds of the night coming from the other side of the tent, the flicker of a flashlight in the trees after dark, and the smoky scents of campfire residue on all my clothes. I highly recommend camping as a great way to get the kids unplugged and outdoors. There are many camping opportunities in North Carolina and this time our adventure took us to Stone Mountain State Park in Roaring Gap, two and a half hours from my home. There are also many different ways to camp. Our way is to take everything but the kitchen sink and back up to the campsite to unload. Some like to take very little so they can hike into the primitive woods and really get away from it all. No matter how large or small you camp, you must plan and pack well so you can have a fun and relaxing time. Here are a few tips.
Before you head out on your adventure into the wilderness, make sure you have a well-stocked first-aid kit including sunscreen and insect repellant. The American Red Cross Deluxe Family Kit contains medication including chewable aspirin, antibiotic ointment, and hydrocortisone. You will want some sort of sting-free antiseptic and water-resistant adhesive bandages of all shapes and sizes. In case of a larger emergency, you should also stock gauze pads and bandage rolls with first aid tape. Lastly, think about putting in some zippered plastic bags, an instant cold compress, and an emergency blanket. Recently, during my first aid class I learned that inexpensive bandanas can make great slings or injury wraps, so stick some in the kit or wrap one on your wrist or neck and keep it with you during your excursion.
Now that you are prepared for an emergency, also be sure to pack for fun! Here are three ideas that might make a woodland or lakeside adventure more enjoyable. Strap a headlamp, with the light shining in, to a gallon jug of water. The light will bounce around the inside of the jug causing it to glow and help you brighten the night. Be sure to plan for S’mores. We like to substitute chocolate-covered graham cookies for the chocolate bar and crackers to make them easier to pack and serve. Have foil packets for your fireside dinner. Any meat and a variety of frozen veggies are yummy cooked on the fire in foil. This way, each family member can have a personally prepared dinner with only their favorites inside.
When the adventure is coming to a close, the most important thing you can do is remember to “Leave no Trace”. Walk the grid of your campsite and pick up any bits of trash that may have been dropped or overlooked. Be sure that your campfire has been safely and properly extinguished. Haul your garbage out with your gear, especially if bins are not provided nearby. “Leave no Trace” also includes considering how your presence affects your surroundings. A part of the 4-H “30 Days of Doing” guide includes this principle and shares with us the seven ways to reduce our impact on the environment. They are; leave what you find, minimize campfire impact, be considerate of other visitors, plan ahead and prepare, travel and camp on durable surfaces, dispose of waste properly, and respect wildlife. If you remember to “take only pictures and leave only footprints” you will be practicing this concept to fidelity.
Once you are planned, packed, and prepared, it’s time to get outdoors, get unplugged, and feel the peace that washes over you when you hear that tent door zip open in the cool morning air. If you want more activities for camping with kids, pick up one of the 4-H project record books in the Outdoor Adventure Project Activity Guide series, especially the level two book, Camping Adventures.
Pam Kerley is the 4-H Program Assistant for N.C. Cooperative Extension, Lee County Center. 4-H is a positive youth development program offering programs that suit a variety of backgrounds, interests, budgets, and schedules. From in-school to after-school, clubs to camps, 4H’s programs are available in Lee County and we welcome children who want to have fun, learn, and grow. In NC, 4-H is brought to you by the NC State Cooperative Extension. N.C. Cooperative Extension’s experts and educators share university knowledge, information, and tools you can use every day to improve your life.