camping in mountains

Being prepared for your next camping adventure, could make the difference between a fabulous outing or a miserable time. It’s all about preparedness, and great planning is the key.

Before you head out, learn about the area you are considering for your trip. It is always good to ask friends and family, but you can also call the ranger station if you are going to a state or national park, or national forest. Ask about terrain, ease of hiking the trails, and how far it is to resources such as a grocery store, gas station, or hospital. Ask about current fire danger and if open fires are permitted – is there more than one way in and out in case of an emergency?

A few years ago a family member took a group of scouts hiking. After a short time it became obvious that although the other adult claimed he knew the area well, he did not. The next morning, led by this “expert” on the area, the group headed out on a short hike which turned into a rescue mission as the group became stranded on a ledge. Do your own research before you leave home, or you will be at the mercy of someone else’s knowledge and preparation.

Reserve your campsite before leaving home. Campgrounds often fill up very early in the day. Many parks take online reservations.

Camp with at least one other person. A camping group numbering four or more is ideal, especially if you are traveling to a more remote area. With four or more campers, if someone gets hurt on a hike, one person can stay with the injured person while two go for help. Again, those who go for help should travel in groups of two or more. There is safety in numbers.

If you are a group without men, make it look as though you have one in the group. Get a large pair of hiking boots and leave them outside your tent door when you turn in for the night. Leave a man’s shirt around the campsite. Some advocate to take a can of wasp spray with you and sleep with it next to you. Wasp spray will shoot a stream up to 20 feet and it will cause burning in the eyes long enough to give you time to get away from an attacker or to call for help.

Leave an itinerary with someone back home that includes the make and model, as well as the year, and license plate number for your vehicle. Leave information about when you plan to return; where you will camp each night, and the telephone number of the ranger station or campground nearest where you plan to stay. Sort of a “flight plan” for campers.

Plan simple meals and do the majority of the food preparation before leaving home. Veggies and meats can be cut up ahead of time. If you are planning to make Dutch oven biscuits or bread, mix all the dry ingredients and place on a zippered plastic bag before leaving home. Prepare trail mix with nuts and dried fruits for easy-to-carry snacks.

Create a written checklist that you can consult before your trip and also to ensure you have everything when packing the car to return home. Organize your supplies into tubs or totes which make carrying supplies to your campsite. Supplies should include:


  • A first aid kit that includes supplies to treat sunburn, bug bites and stings, rashes and cuts.
  • Prescriptions and over the counter medications.
  • Toiletries including toilet paper, toothbrush, toothpaste, soap, and a small towel.
  • Warms clothes and blankets for cool evenings around the campfire.
  • Weather appropriate clothing. Extra clothing should be taken if the weather will be rainy and you will want to put on dry clothes as soon as possible. Long pants and a long sleeve shirt are appropriate for hiking to help prevent sunburn, insect bites and ticks.
  • Folding chairs.
  • Flashlights or battery lanterns with extra batteries. Glow sticks are also a great choice for a night light in your tent.
  • Pocketknife.
  • Compass.
  • Matches. Keep matches in a waterproof container. Keep lighted stoves, grills, campfires, and propane lanterns 10 feet away from tents.
  • Sunscreen
  • Insect repellent.
  • Sunglasses, and a brimmed hat.
  • Wet wipes.
  • Trash bags.
  • Tarp.
  • Rope.
  • Cooking utensils, pots and pans, Dutch oven.
  • Cooking supplies, camp stove, long forks for hot dogs or marshmallows, foil for foil dinners and leftovers, can opener.
  • Cooler for food.
  • Dish soap, wash clothes and towels. Large pot for washing dishes.
  • Keep perishable food in a cooler with water frozen in clean milk cartons, frozen drink boxes, or frozen gel packs.
  • Sealed container to keep food away from wild animals.
  • Fuel: propane for stoves and wood for fires.
  • Tent
  • Extra two or three man tent for keeping clothing and other supplies protected and in a convenient location.
  • Sleeping bags
  • Sleeping pads
  • Pillows
  • Whisk broom for sweeping out the tent and sweeping off picnic tables and benches.
  • Water enough for hikes, cooking and drinking.
  • Water purification bottles.
  • Games, puzzles, favorite toy and books.
  • Boat, rafts, water toys, fishing equipment, sports equipment, etc.
  • Camera. A must for preserving all those terrific memories.


A little preparation goes a long way toward ensuring a happy, and healthy camp adventure, and is a great trial run for emergency preparedness, since many of the items and skills needed for evacuation are similar. Above all, have fun!

Follow Carolyn at and Be sure to join her yahoo group while visiting the blog.