There’s nothing like taking a break from the stress of everyday life and taking a trip into the great outdoors, especially a er all this time stuck at home. Camping may look at bit different this summer, but that doesn’t mean you can’t start planning your next camping trip (or even take a practice run in the backyard).
We spoke with Megan Schuster, the assistant park manager at Bull Run Regional Park, on what she likes most about camping, and tips for individuals and families who want to start spending their weekends surrounded by nature.
What is your favorite part about going camping?
Definitely disconnecting. It’s so nice to be out in the woods with limited access to the hustle and bustle of everyday life. You don’t realize how much noise pollution is around you until you spend a weekend in the woods with the birds and leaves.
What activities do you suggest when first starting out?
If you don’t know how to build a fire, definitely start there. After that, experiment with campfire cooking. There are a ton of great cast iron and Dutch oven recipes to try. Don’t have a cast iron or a Dutch oven? Check Pinterest for foil pack recipes. Every campground has different amenities, so see what yours offers and try them out!
What are some things people don’t realize or forget when going camping for the first time?
The temperature can change drastically between night and day, even during the summer. Always bring extra layers of clothes, especially if it’s spring or fall when the temperatures drop to 30 to 40 degrees at night. Building a fire isn’t as easy as throwing a match on some logs. Do your research beforehand to make sure you know how to use kindling and layer wood to get one started. There is also a great alternative to the traditional campfire—the Swedish bonfire log. This one has a fire starter built in and is great for cooking.
Schuster’s 3 camping tips for beginners
- “Don’t forget bug spray, and keep your tent zipped up at all times or chances are high you’ll get bitten by mosquitoes all night.”
- “No tent is 100% watertight. Put your tent on a tarp and store anything that absolutely cannot get wet in the car or a plastic storage bin. Keep a set of clothes in the car or storage bin as well so you always have a dry option.”
- “Utilize camp hosts. Nearly every campground I’ve been to has at least one live-in camp host. They have a wealth of information about the park, surrounding area, and, most importantly, how to camp since they do it full time.”