Gearing Up – How to Plan

There are many different ways to camp. You can sleep in your Grampa’s back yard, you can drive into the woods to a campground under the stars, or even be a backwoods overnighter just like Daniel Boone. There are just as many places to explore – from the desert and the woods, to fields and beaches, lakes and mountains. You can camp in national and state parks, in busy crowded campgrounds, and in remote sites deep in the wilderness. Some campsites offer ponds for swimming and canoeing, trails for hiking, rocks to climb, caves to explore, trees to scurry up, fields to wander through or streams to fish in. The possibilities are endless.

No matter where you go and what kind of camping you choose, you’ll need to do a little planning. Investigating before you leave will make your camping experience even more fun and fulfilling.

Search a Site for Your Site

If you want to go beyond the backyard, the internet is a great place to start. Lots of websites let you search for campgrounds according to region, the activities offered there or nearby, and the type of setup you want – that is, will it be just one tend for you, for other members of the family… Get the game plan and then check out some of these great sites from the list complied by our local Order of the Arrow Lodge!

Abrams Falls (Backpacking)
Booker T Washington State Park
Burt Adams Scout Camp
Cades Cove Campground
Camp Allatoona Aquatics Base
Chickamauga Battlefield
Chilhowee Campground
Cloudland Canyon State Park
Cumberland Trail
Fall Creek Falls State Park
Fort Mountain State Park
Foster Falls Campground
Gee Creek Campground
Gibson Woods – contact Wesley Memorial Church, Cleveland
Harrison Bay State Park
Huntsville Space Center – Space Camp
Indian Boundary Recreation Area
Johnston Woods – Wonders in the Woods
Prentice Cooper – Davis Pond & Hunters Check Station
Red Top Mountain State Park
Russell Cave National Monument – SCOUT PROGRAMS ONLY
Savage Gulf (Backpacking)
Silver Comet (Bike Trail)
Skymont Scout Reservation
Stone Mountain
Tellico Lake
Toccoa (Tubing)
Townsend (Tubing)
USS Yorktown
Virginia Creeper Bike Trail
Woodruff Scout Reservation

Know Before You Go

Once you zero in on where you will be camping, you can learn about the area’s surrounding plants and wildlife. Go to your local library to find books about where you are headed, or research online. Knowing where you are going also helps you plan the kinds of games, activities and projects you will do, and – most important – what kinds of gear you need to bring.

The Five Big Before-You-Go Questions

Before you pack a thing, you need to get organized and put all your ducks in a row. Begin by asking yourself these questions:

  1. WHERE ARE WE GOING? What’s the landscape like, the weather, the temperature? You need to figure out whether you’re headed for hot or cold, dry or wet, flat or rocky – or maybe some combination – and pack what you will need accordingly.
  2. WHAT KIND OF CAMPING WILL WE BE DOING? If you are in the yard out back, you’ll need less gear and can be more flexible with what counts as “gear” that if you are sleeping in the woods. Same goes for other aspects of your intended campsite – if your campground has showers and bathrooms, you will pack different stuff than if you will be making your own.
  3. HOW WILL WE GET THERE? Will you be hiking to your campsite or driving in a car? Obviously you can bring more if you are car-camping because you don’t have to worry about carrying everything on your back.
  4. WHAT WILL WE BE DOING? Hiking? Skiing? Swimming? Fishing? Hunting for animal tracks? Searching for bugs? Making crafts? You will need special gear for these activities, so you need to discuss the plans for your trip with all those who are going.
  5. HOW LONG WILL WE BE THERE? Knowing the length of your trip will help you figure out not only how much clothing to bring, but also how much food you will need. You can wear clothes over and over, but when it comes to food, you have to plan what you’ll eat for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks each day.

After you answer all of the key questions you can get going on your lists. Look for our next camping article in late September for “Our Ultimate Packing List” that will give you information on the basic gear you will need to stay a happy camper!

This article was written up based on the information found in Lynn Brunell’s Camp Out!: The Ultimate Kids’ Guide