I've lately met a friend of the family who is a retired geologist and now happily travels around the Western US in his truck-converted-to-a-camper. He has no permanent address and and camps full time. My mom and aunts have known him since high school, but I had never met him until this summer. It's really cute because Zac can't pronounce his name, and so we have all taken to calling him "Moff."
Having spent a large part of the last few weeks quizzing him about his lifestyle, I'm now in great hopes of being able to take my children and travel with him out West at some point this school year. How amazing would that be?!? He's the only person I know who chooses to live his life like this!
Plus, one of the benefits of being a homeschooler is, or is supposed to be, the flexibility to create your own schedule and seize educational opportunities anywhere as they crop up. I would LOVE to do more of that! It's easy to feel restricted in your life but, actually, I believe that most of our restrictions are self-imposed. If I would love to travel more... why not do it?
I'm intimidated about traveling and camping solo with four children, the youngest of whom is two. But to travel with someone who has been camping for decades, who owns all the correct gear, and who has the expertise... that makes it seem easier. And I know there are a lot of things I could learn from the experience beyond just seeing a bunch of great scenery. For example, it is through Moff that I learned about the miracle of Poo Powder!
This is also the perfect time of year to share a guest post from Michael Bourke of http://scicamps.org/. On his website he shares a "growing list of sortable science camps across the United States," but he also writes articles about all kinds of topics related to the outdoors. If you've done any camping this summer, drop me a note. I'd love to know where people are traveling!
3 Important Things to Keep in Mind on Your Next Camping Adventure
People go camping to relax in nature, unwind and unplug, and spend some time away from the grind of daily life. Hiking on quiet trails, swimming in hidden spots, swinging in a hammock among the trees, and sitting around a warm fire calms the mind and revives the spirit. Camping is even more enjoyable when you keep a few safety tips in mind; that’s why we share three of the things you need to remember on your next camping trip.
1. Set Up Camp in a Safe Location
Choosing the best site to pitch your tent is half the battle of a successful camping trip. An ideal tent site will ensure your comfort and safety and save you from having to set up your tent more than once. The first criteria for your camp site should be flat ground. Look for an area that is covered with pine needles, sand, grass, or dirt and but free of rocks and roots. If you are camping in a campground, you likely will see where previous campers have pitched their tents and can follow suit.
You also should avoid setting up your tent directly beneath trees. Campers are injured by falling tree branches far too often, and unfortunately, some suffer serious injury when trees or branches fall on their tents. One other thing to keep in mind when pitching a tent is to put a safe distance between it, your campfire, and other campers. Should a fire get out of control, you don’t want it to spread from one tent to the next.
2. Stay Safe During Inclement Weather
When you’re camping and hiking in the great outdoors, there is the potential for inclement weather, such as summer thunderstorms, to occur. It’s best to be prepared for all types of weather by packing extra clothes so you can change into something dry, wearing layers of clothing to protect you from the wind, sun, and cold, and camping near your vehicle so you can take shelter as needed.
When you do hear thunder, you likely are within 10 miles of a storm and should seek shelter. If you are near a building, take shelter inside. Avoid taking shelter in your tent whenever possible because the metal poles could attract lightning. It is much safer for you to get inside your vehicle because the rubber tires will absorb the electricity and protect you. If a storm occurs when you are hiking, get as far away from tall trees as possible and try to get into an open field. If you are swimming when you hear thunder, get out of the water and dry off quickly because water conducts electricity.
3. Use Safe Fire Practices
Camping isn’t much fun without a campfire, but you need to make sure you are using safe practices and being responsible from the time you start the fire until you extinguish it. Only burn in designated areas and use an existing fire pit or dig your own. Be sure to contain your fire in a metal fire ring or with a circle of rocks. Build a fire only as large as you need and make sure that you clear debris, garbage, and flammable organic materials such as decaying leaves and twigs from the perimeter of your fire pit.
Your safest bet is to have someone attend to the fire at all times; ideally, an adult will watch over your fire until you extinguish it. Keep a shovel, sand, or bucket of water nearby to help you put out your fire or keep it at bay if it grows too large.
When you are ready to leave your campsite or settle in for the night, put out the fire completely before leaving it unattended. Never pour water on a large fire. Rather, spread the embers and coals around the inside of the pit with a shovel and put sand on it to help put out the flames. Then, ensure the coals are completely cool before going to bed or leaving the campsite.
Your camping trip will be far more comfortable, enjoyable, and safe if you set up camp in the right location, take the proper precautions during inclement weather, and use safe fire practices.
Thanks, Michael, for your article. I will add, along the lines of completely extinguishing your campfire, that I will never forget Colin Fletcher's words that, if you can take a bath in it, you've used almost enough water.
This post contains affiliate links to the materials I actually use for homeschooling. I hope you find them helpful. Thank you for your support!