Temperatures are rising, and that means the official beginning to camping season has arrived. Camping can either be a disaster, or it can provide some of the greatest memories you will have. A lot of what you do will decide if the experience was a good or bad one.
There are no guarantees that your first camping trip of the year will be a good one, but planning in advance helps. Because lots of families will be camping throughout the summer, campgrounds can fill up in a hurry. If possible, make reservations ahead of time. This will allow you go straight to your reserved site that you chose in advance. It is nice not to have to worry about having to drive around, and find an available camp site, if one is even available.
WHAT DO YOU WANT AND NEED?
It helps to know what you and your family prefer to do when camping so that you can choose the best campground. If your family likes to fish, a good lake with fishing available is nice. If you would rather hike the trails though the forest, prioritize your search for a campground that has hiking trails. The same is true for campers that enjoy biking and horseback riding. There are plenty of state parks throughout the state that will have what you are looking for. However, it will take a little homework to find the best spot for you and your family. Something else to think about is if you want a camp site with electricity or not. It does cost a few more dollars for a site that has electricity, but it comes in handy to run a coffee pot, a fan on hot nights, and other luxuries.
Consider where the restrooms and shower houses are located in proximity to your camp site. This might sound minor, but it is nice to be near these facilities. To reserve a camping site at any state park that allows camping go to: www.reserveamerica.com. If you cannot get into a state park, there are plenty of private campgrounds throughout the state. Most lakes in the state has campgrounds very near the water. Another option is one of the many rivers that wind through Illinois. With a couple of hone calls, it is very easy to gain permission to camp on the banks of a river. Some of my favorite camping memories have come from camping along the river, setting bank poles and trot lines for catfish with family and friends. Wherever you camp, always respect the land, and carry out your trash.
Once you have decided where you will camp, you need to make sure you have everything you will need. Double check all your camping gear, especially if you have not used it this year. Check your tent, sleeping bag, tarp, cooking supplies, camp stove, and other gear to be sure it is in good shape. You will also want to make sure you bring enough food for the entire trip. I would rather be camping, than making unnecessary trips to the store. Also, do not make the mistake thinking you can catch enough fish to sustain your needs. You might just go hungry.
A good trip can quickly turn bad. Be sure to pack sunscreen, insect repellent, toiletries, personal camping gear, clothing for any weather changes, rain gear, and recreational gear. To get the most out of your trip, go prepared, learn as much as you can about the area you will be camping, and have plans. It does not take much planning to have a good outing close to home. Many people live very near areas that provide exceptional camping, and other activities. The great thing about camping is that it is an awesome way to relax, costing little money, and does not require vacation days from work for travel. Take the time to enjoy, and relax this summer at a campground near you.
– Jason Houser