Caro Ryan offers her top 5 things that need to be done (in order) when you get to camp.
1. Selecting your spot: Depending on your shelter of choice, your needs will be different. For Tent-ers, all you want is that perfectly flat spot with soft grass, the Fly-ers have got their eyes out for the same flat spot but also want the magic two trees in perfect proximity, whereas the Hammock-ers couldn’t care less what the ground looks like, as long as the trees are solid. So when choosing your spot, just spare a thought for your fellow campers. Oh, and now isn’t the time to put up your shelter (unless it’s raining or about to). Just drop your pack and start the other jobs. TIP: Spread out across the area and if you know you’re a snorer, set up on the outer extremes of the site.
2. Collecting Firewood: If you’re going to be having a cooking fire (after checking there’s no Fire Ban in place and they’re allowed in the area) now is the time to get firewood.. This is the hardest task to do in the dark, so do it first before the sun goes down. You can even start gathering it on your way into camp. This is especially helpful if you know you’re staying in an area where firewood is scarce. If there’s enough people, get one person to be the fire lighter/timber sorter, whilst the others are still bringing the timber in. TIP: Stash a small amount of kindling in your shelter at night, to protect from dew/rain if you want a breakfast fire.
3. Gather water: Generally speaking, you’ll always be aiming to set up camp near to a water source. If the sun has gone down, it’s an easier task to do by head-torch as opposed to gathering firewood, dependent on the terrain. Also, if you’re going to be having a bit of an APC** splash n’ dash down near the creek or river, you might appreciate the cover of darkness. If there’s enough people in the party, split the jobs so those getting firewood give their water bottles/bladders/wine bags to those getting water. TIP: Take an empty backpack with you to carry back all the water bottles and take a cup in case the water level isn’t deep enough to get the bottles in.
4. Put up your shelter: If you’re not sure if your spot is exactly flat, lie down on the ground and give it a test drive. If you wake up in the night with a headache and blocked nose, you can pretty much be sure that you’re sleeping with your head below your body. If that happens to you, just spin around inside your tent for the rest of the night.
5. Bring something to share: If you thought Happy Hour at your local was a treat, then just wait for one around the fire. Bring some nibbles to share with the party as an entree for dinner. Quite often this means that there’s no room for dinner!
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