All posts by Ashley Grant

Eight Tips For Staying On A Diet While Camping

Staying on a diet while camping may sound like a daunting task, but a few precautions can actually make healthy eating very simple. The idea is to get away from the trials and tribulations of civilization, so ‘roughing it’ often affords very few opportunities to cheat. To make sure that temptation is completely minimized, the following things are advised:

  1. Truly ‘Get away from It All’- Choosing a remote campground as opposed to one in a more popular location places the camper further from restaurants, gift shops, and other places where even the most diligent dieter may be tempted to stray. National Parks, like the Grand Canyon, offers many accommodations for tourists, which also translates into many opportunities to cheat. Instead of camping near the hotels or larger campgrounds, it may be much more intelligent (and interesting!) to pursue a more remote location.
  2. Nature-Proof the Food- This is critically important. If local critters like birds, bears, or raccoons get into the provisions, campers may be left with nothing to eat.  All food and beverages should be stored in lockable, waterproof coolers. If possible, it is also advisable to secure all unused provisions in a vehicle. This will also help to keep bugs away from the campground, meaning a lower chance of being bitten by insects.
  3. Stay Active – Enjoying a swim in a lake or a hike on a nature trail not only burns calories, but it also occupies the mind and boosts the metabolism. Exercise also seems to assist in the dietary process by reducing one’s appetite. 
  4. Camp with Friends Who Are Dieting, or Even on the Same Diet- A supportive environment is a key to getting or staying in shape. Sometimes friends from different dietary support groups even plan excursions together. 
  5. Have an Ongoing Project while Camping- Having a specific project in mind, like photographing any interesting plants or animals encountered, can help to keep one’s mind off food.
  6. Do Not Leave Home Hungry- Enjoying a healthy, filling breakfast before leaving home is common practice to serious campers and hikers. Apart from setting the pace for the rest of the day, it decreases the chance that a person will pull off the road and into some greasy spoon restaurant.
  7. Know-How to Get There, and How to Get Back- If possible, do or have someone else do a test-drive to and from the location to make sure that someone knows how to get there. Getting lost in transit to or from a location is another common cause of people eating things they didn’t plan to eat.  
  8. Carry Extra, Non-Tempting Provisions- For the same reason as Tip #7, it is also wise for a camper to carry a bit more food than it is expected he or she will need during the camping session. If there’s no good reason to eat it during the camp, it can always be saved for the trip home or later.

These ’emergency rations’ should be something that is on the person’s diet but not found particularly tempting. As a matter of fact, that is a good general rule when packing for the trip as a whole. Sometimes little treats are fine, but the key is to know what the dieting camper will or will not be able to resist.

Etiquette For Camping With Your Dog

Dogs can make excellent companions on camping trips. Just as you and your family follow various rules of etiquette while camping, the same rules apply when you bring along your furry friend, plus a few additional ones. You will need a little extra planning and supplies if you want to bring along your dog.

Double-check the camp rules

The first thing you should do is always double-check the rules of the park or campground you plan to visit. Some parks allow dogs on trails and at campsites while others do not. Also, be aware of any additional rules applying to bring your dogs, such as leashes on trails and tethering. Most national parks allow dogs in campgrounds but require leashes. It all depends on the location.

Vaccination papers on hand

The next thing you should do is a quick trip to the vet. Before taking your dog anywhere, you should make sure he or she is properly vaccinated. Also, make sure to have proof of their rabies vaccination in particular. A check-up and a health certificate from your vet are also not a bad idea. Keep all of this documentation with you. If you are doing and hiking or rigorous activity, you need to ensure that your dog is healthy enough to handle it. Dogs need to be conditioned for a lengthy hike, just like people do. 

Be conscientious

You shouldn’t forget that other people may be camping or hiking in the area and may have been seeking a quiet retreat. If your dog is an excessive barker, you may want to reconsider bringing them along because they may cause a disturbance. Your dog should also know basic obedience and understand verbal commands – this will ensure the trip is pleasant for you as well as for other campers. An unruly dog running into other campsites and not coming back when called would be quite a nuisance. 

Clean up

If you’ll be doing any hiking or walking on trails, keep your dog on the trail and always clean up after your pet if they happen to eliminate on or near the trail. You should also be sure to clean up after your dog at and around your campsite just as you would pick up your own belongings and refuse. It is not the responsibility of the next campers to take care of what your dog has left behind.

Bring toys for your dog like their favorite ball, frisbee, or soft toy to keep them entertained as well as their bed or a foam pad so they can settle down comfortably at the end of the day. There are also camping crates made specifically for dogs on outdoor adventures. Taking your dog camping with you is all about preparation, planning, and consideration. It can be a great experience for you and your dog and not a nuisance to other campers if you are prepared.

First Time Camping Tips

Camping for some is the great escape, a venture into paradise when done properly and in the right places. However, to others, camping is extremely boring and insufferable, and for these people, it’s always best to find out before purchasing the whole package. Finding out if camping is going to be a lifelong obsession or a pain in the neck would be one of the top tips for novice campers.

For the avid tent camper, it’s very easy to spend thousands of dollars on fancy, high-tech gear, but a young family just trying camping out for the first time can get away with buying a full package of camping gear, with everything needed for a comfortable long weekend at a private or government-run campground, for about $100 USD.

If it’s your first foray into camping, spending more than a couple of hundred dollars is more than enough to cover a tent, four small air mattresses, and all the cooking utensils, pots and pans, a lantern and a couple of folding camp chairs. Stores like Walmart, Target, or any other department stores all have camping packages that run from $99.99 to over $1,000 for a young family of two parents and two children.

A couple or a few friends can even get away with spending much less for their first camping trip, as all they really need is a 4-man tent: the rest of the stuff you need to bring can be bought at a dollar store and brought from home.

So, why be so cheap? The problem is that you may not like camping: it’s not for everyone. But, if you happen to end up being obsessed with it, as an avid camper, you will never regret spending that first weekend in the woods, on the mountain, by the river or ocean, or in a friendly campground.

When starting out, first-time campers should start off at a public campground. You can get a water tap and electrical outlets in your camping site, with public washrooms, a canteen, pre-split hardwood for campfires and cooking fires, showers, and a guarded beach. Games rooms, Wi-Fi access, and even concerts and outdoor movie nights are popular events at privately-owned campgrounds. Once you get the feeling that this is something you can really get into, it’s time to start spreading your wings.

After the privately owned campground, provincial (Canada) or state (United States) campgrounds offer a lot more privacy, as publically owned campgrounds usually have tents plopped down almost on top of each other, and many times on slabs of concrete or hard-packed dirt. The further you get from a city, the more likely you are to find a nicer campground with more privacy, fewer rules, and better amenities.

Once you’ve established that camping’s in your blood, and there’s a much better chance of that happening than not, if your first camping experience is at a nice, waterfront campsite, you should start upgrading your gear, buying a couple to a few items each year.

Start with a better tent, going with a modular design or a quick setup tent, depending upon your circumstances and where you plan on spending most of your camping time: If you’re going to camp more in the wilds than at campgrounds, then weatherproof tents with separate modules make more sense.

After you’ve accumulated a good tent, it’s time to start buying better camping gear: A portable fuel camp stove, lantern, stackable pots, pans and utensils, portable chemical toilets, rain, and bug-repellent tent-cabins. The list is nearly endless, and you can buy a few items every year, or every time you go camping and still feel you don’t have enough, or the best.

And, once you’ve established that you’re obsessed with camping, the final tip for novice campers is to explore the wilderness for more secluded and unknown camping sites. Do most states and provinces have considerable tracts of land that?s deemed as public access, which means that you can simply go looking for the best possible campsite and setup camp, no charge (unless it’s in a provincial or state park, where entrance fees, daily rates, and no-alcohol, no noise after 8 pm, no campfires and many other strict rules usually apply).

Look for public access land outside of the park’s systems, as it’s free, wild, and wonderful. You can camp beside a trout-filled stream, a hot spring or beside a mountain vista, and have wild animals trouncing through your site. Once you’ve found the perfect campsite for your personal desires, a bad day’s camping will always be so much better than a great day at work.

Free Activities When Camping

You don’t need to cart along with easels, hundreds of tubes of paints, a fretsaw, and a loom in order to do crafts during a camping trip or picnic. You also don’t need to pay for organized activities.  Part of the creativity and fun is seeing what you can make and do with what is already there. Free or nearly free ideas to get you started are:

Daisy chains 

A nice thing to do on a summer picnic is to make garlands of flowers to wear. You pick daisies, keeping the stem at least two inches long, then make a slit with your fingernail. This last part can be tricky for small children, so you might want to help them. Then you simply thread one daisy onto another until you have a chain.

Common daisies are the only flowers suitable for this activity. It simply won’t work with most, as their stems are either too fragile or too tough. More importantly, unless you’re a botanist, you won’t know whether the flowers you are picking are from common weeds or highly endangered wildflowers. Lawn daisies are easy to recognize, common, and easy to use. Leave all others where they are.

Bows and arrows

You need a bit of string and a penknife, but everything else is already there. Effective, if not very accurate, archery sets can be made with a few twigs and are perfect for aspiring Robin Hoods. The bow needs to be made of a very supple twig about 3-4 feet long. Sycamore is perfect. 

After removing excess twigs and leaves (the bark can be left on), you create a tight bow with a length of the string. The arrows are made from shorter, thinner, and more rigid straight twigs. Attaching a couple of feathers at one end of an arrow and sharpening the point makes it fly better. 

While these sets are unlikely to be powerful enough to really hurt anybody, you should still remember to tell your children not to aim in the direction of other people or animals.

Water fights

These are an exciting, and very active, way to cool off after a picnic or long sticky walks on a camping trip. The rules are very simple – your aim is to soak everybody else without getting too wet yourself. You can use water pistols or better and more simply just fill up containers with water. 

Generally, it’s best to use plastic containers since there is a good chance people will get carried away and throw more than the water. Obviously, this is not something to do when there are water shortages but great fun if you are near a river or pool.

There are hundreds of other activities you can do when outside that cost nothing and need minimal materials. You can do bark rubbings, go bug watching, climb trees, play drawing games, have nature trail competitions, make straw animals, and countless more. Have a rough idea of perhaps one energetic activity and one quiet one before you go, then use your imagination.

Good Reasons For Taking Quality Rope When Camping

A rope is easily one of the most valuable assets a camper can have. Parachute cord, commonly called paracord, has had many uses in the typical overnight camp. It has thousands of applications, and in many cases, only a good piece of sturdy cord will serve the job.

Firstly, you need to be proficient in knots. Most knots work by using the friction of the line used, while others may use many ‘turns’ around the line, followed by a stopper knot if the line is slippery or doesn’t bind well. Knots in themselves can be an extremely in-depth study, but for the infrequent camper, one should be versed in only a few simple knots; the overhand, which is the most basic of knots, the figure-eight knot, the reef knot, and the slip knot. Familiarity with this shortlist of knots can improve successes in working with line, and allows you to apply your knowledge practically.

A line can be used for multiple purposes, from lashing makeshift tent poles together using a figure-eight pattern of winding around the joint to using a rope to lift foodstuffs off the ground in bear country. This is done by selecting a low branch on a tree and tossing the line over the branch so that there is a line hanging from both sides of the branch.

At this point, the food would be affixed in a bag or sling on one end whilst the other end is pulled to hoist the load out of reach. The hoisting end is then tied around the tree with a simple slip knot. This can drastically improve camp safety in regions where bears harass campers and steal carelessly stored food.

Further uses of rope in a camping situation include creating temporary shelter using a tarpaulin and a few lengths of rope. Four trees are selected that are in a roughly square or rectangular pattern and are spaced properly in relation to each other.

The tarpaulin is tied to the trees with the rope and slung between them to create a makeshift roof. In survival situations, you can loosen and adjust the tarpaulin so that is sags slightly in the middle like a large pliable bowl, which can then be punctured at the lowest point to collect fallen rain and dew for drinking water.

Elaborate shelters can be created using only rope, and wooden poles lashed together to create wall panels, which are then joined together to form rooms. You can also use a rope to create many forms of trap snares if you need to for survival. In this vein, a camper in a starvation situation can use short pieces of wood and rope to create small wooden traps to snare prey.

The continuing concept is that you are limited only by the length of rope/cord that you have and your imagination. A camper who worries of uninvited intruders and has lots of rope might consider a perimeter strung tautly around the camp with the loose ends tied to a pot sitting in a pan near the tent, ensuring that any tugging or shaking of the rope will rattle the pans and alert the camper of an intruder.

Likewise, a camper who wished to do so could erect complex shade systems using ropes and boughs to offer ’round the clock shade for his camp. The sky is the limit once you realize the millions of things you can do with a simple rope and creativity.

More down-to-earth options are much less extravagant. Two pieces of rope that are slightly longer than the height of the camper, and several shorter lengths, a comfortable hammock can be fashioned using simple overhand knots to connect the short “slat ropes” to the longer “beam ropes” offering a comfy napping place to laze away the day.

As you can see, the rope has many uses in camp, but it also has another use that few campers consider; practicing knot tying is both a great survival skill and a great way to pass the time. Why not pick up a book on how to tie different knots and see how many different knots you can learn?

Good Things To Take Camping That People Often Don’t Consider

Camping can be a wonderful way of experiencing nature in any country. If you have not camped much, any camping reference book or website will list the standard equipment for you to take, such as a tent, sleeping bag, mattress, cooking equipment, flashlight, rain gear, and of course, food and water. If you include some items that more experienced campers carry, any trip can be more enjoyable, and a less than pleasant trip can turn into a good experience.

To enjoy camping, you must be comfortable. A small item that takes very little space is a cotton bandanna. On hot days, wet it and tie it around your neck or shade your neck by extending from under the back of your hat. If bugs are biting, a bandanna with some bug repellent on it, tied around your neck, will keep them away without putting repellent on your face or near your eyes.

A clean bandanna can also be used as a cooling washcloth. A dry bandanna tied on your belt or belt loop becomes a hand towel when cooking. Not sure what you are sitting on? Put your bandanna down before you sit.

The cooking fire or stove is the center of the camp. Food brings people together and tastes better when eaten outside. Food preparation can be difficult without a clean space on which to work. A small cutting board can make the job much easier whether you are working at a picnic table or on the ground. It is level and easy to keep clean. If space or weight is an issue, the newer cutting mats can be rolled up and take very little space for the convenience they give to an organized camp kitchen.

Whether you are on the move or staying in one place, rain can make a camping experience miserable. An extra tarp, often called a guide tarp, can add comfort. A triangular nylon tarp with no poles, a guide tarp takes up very little space and can be erected quickly when needed. Poles can be created from nature or by using hiking sticks, oars, or paddles at one side and anchoring the other end with rocks or packs.

If you are to be in a forest, then pack some rope to be used when erecting the tarp. This small tarp can create a dry lunch stop, a roof for your kitchen food preparation area, or a new roof above a leaky tent. A visit to a climbing supply store for a pulley and some carabineers will give you even more ways to put this shelter in place quickly.

When the dishes are done, the beds are ready, and the food is away, there is nothing better than enjoying the evening with friends and family. Camp cooking sets often include small plastic mugs or cups. These are useful for cooking, but they are small, and they do not keep a drink hot or cold.

An insulated mug keeps your drink hot or cold while you enjoy the evening sights and sounds around you. Flavored coffees or teas or a little liqueur added to your hot drink in your insulated mug extends this time of day and makes your camping experience special.

Little additions to your pack can make a big difference to a camping experience. A bandanna or two, a cutting mat, an extra tarp, and an insulated mug can keep you clean, dry, and add to your comfort. Camping should be as pleasant as possible so that we can make time for those special moments that living with nature gives us.

How To Create A Camping Checklist

The preparation for every camping trip can be hectic at times, but a wise camper will create a camping checklist to make the outing go more smoothly with a great reduction in the associated stress. There is bound to be some item of necessity left at home on nearly every camping trip, but to create a camping checklist ensures that these errors will be kept to a minimum in frequency and importance.

It is a good idea that each and every member of a camping party create their own individualized camping checklist for their personal items, as in this activity, each person is accountable for their own comfort. When this has been accomplished, the group as a whole can get together and create a camping checklist for items that will be utilized by the entire camping party.

The best way to create a camping checklist is, to begin with, items of personal clothing and hygiene, keeping in mind the necessity to pack efficiently. A very good way to accomplish this is to sit in a quiet place for about ten minutes with a notebook and pen and visualize what a typical day in camp will encompass from the moment you awake until the minute you go to sleep.

By doing this, you will most likely cover most of the important items that will be needed on your camping trip, and forgotten items will be kept to a minimum with little significance attached. The next step to create a camping checklist is to include items that may not be an absolute necessity for the trip but will supply comfort and make the trip a bit more joyful. A small, battery-powered radio, a deck of cards, or a small stash of candy or other goodies can be a blessing on a rainy day when you are stuck inside of a tent for hours.

When each individual in the camping party has finished their camping checklist, it is time to gather as a group and collectively address the common needs of the entire party. To create a camping checklist in this manner, it is best to discuss and explore each area of camping separately, such as food, shelter, recreation, emergencies, etc. By doing this, everyone will be satisfied the preparations are adequate in each aspect before moving on to the next topic.

This is a great way to create a camping checklist because, in these discussions, there are usually some very good ideas presented that will be certain to make everyone’s trip more enjoyable.

How To Find Entertainment When Camping

Camping is its own entertainment, right? After all, time spent in the wilderness, with or without friends and family, is a rewarding experience. However, there are times when campers must look for ways to entertain themselves. A lengthy trip especially is bound to contain some downtime that must be filled. There are a ton of options, and in the end, each camper will find the best means of entertainment.

Campfires are a great party starter. At night, in particular, a good fire represents offers three major rewards. First, on cold nights, a fire is a source of warmth. Just bringing people into close proximity can lead to entertainment.

Secondly, the light of the fire serves as a focal point. In the absence of television, this glowing pyre will be what draws the eyes of all the campers. The dancing flames offer a hypnotic calm for all who gaze upon them. Lastly, a good fire leads to other forms of entertainment, such as roasting marshmallows and hot dogs.

Part of the point of camping is to travel to an area that has wilderness attractions. Campers should take full advantage of all these things, whether they be nature walks, mountainous hikes, waterfalls, or other. Some campsites are close to unique experiences, like a natural water slide, or a hot spring. Be sure to do research before leaving for the camping trip.

Portability is somewhat important when bringing entertainment on a camping trip. If backpacking, small and lightweight games are much more important, but even when car camping, there is a limited amount of space for which to pack in the games. Certain board games fit the bill, but the best choice is a simple deck of playing cards. There are dozens, if not hundreds, of different games that can be played with the same deck. Just be sure that everyone knows how to play the intended games.

A night away from the comforts of home can lead to a great opportunity to play some of those games that require little more than imagination. Charades, Twenty Questions, and other games along those lines can offer hours of great entertainment.

Lastly, do not forget the art of the scary story. A night of camping is the only place where these classic stories, passed along orally for generations, are appropriate. 

Reasons To Take Your Pet Camping

For many of us when taking the family on a camping trip it also means bringing the family dog too. But even though your dog is an animal, he is just as susceptible to injuries out in the wilderness as you are. Just like you, your dog is used to living in a home with a certain sense of security. So you need to take caution and watch out of your family pet just like any other family member. Here are some of the common injuries that can happen to your dog while camping.

We all love taking our dogs walking or running, but when we’re out in the woods dogs can become injured very quickly. It’s not uncommon for a dog to hurt his foot on a sharp rock, or sprain a limb on a hill. Most dogs are used to being outdoors but the wilderness can present some unexpected obstacles when hiking with his master. So be careful where you take your dog in the woods. Try and stay on sturdy ground and keep an eye on his footing.

There are a lot of creatures in the wilderness that we all try to avoid when camping. Unfortunately dogs have the natural instinct of chasing after most of the animals and it can lead to serious injuries or worse. Bees, skunks, raccoons, squirrels are some of the smaller critters that can make a camping very unpleasant for your pooch if he gets bitten by one. Larger animals like bear, elk, boar, and moose can do a lot more damage to your family pet if attacked. Always try to be aware of your surrounding if you’re walking with your dog. Keep in securely tied in the campsite when you can’t keep watch of him.

Some of the things that can hurt your dog are things you can’t even see. Parasites and bacteria in the surrounding waters can upset your dog or make him quite ill if you’re not careful. The heat, even in the woods can be especially difficult on a dog while camping. Even if it feels like a nice cool day to you, your dog may be feeling the effects of the direct sunlight or humidity.

Be sure to keep plenty of fresh bottled water handy for your dog. Keep him hydrated with plenty of fresh drinking water from a clean bowl in the campsite. And always look for signs of heat stroke or exhaustion. If he is panting a lot, seems sleepy or lethargic he likely needs some fresh water and a cool spot in the shade to rest. Don’t forget to bring him plenty of food and keep it in a safe and dry place away from the elements and woodland critters.

As in most situations make sure your family dog is up to date on all of his shots. Also make sure he is in good health before you expose him to the elements of a camping trip. Be sure you have a strong sturdy leash to keep him on and a good place to tie him down when needed. It’s also important to make sure he is wearing a collar with identification on it.

A reflective leash is a good idea to help easily find him in the dark with a flashlight, especially if he pulls a Houdini act and gets away from the campsite. If there are any other campers nearby find out if they have any pets with them and make sure they’re dog is healthy with shots as well. Let them know about your dog as well so that both family pets can be as safe as possible.

Finally give your pooch a safe and dry place to sleep at night. Some may prefer to sleep in the tent with you. Others may like sleeping outdoors. Give him a soft place to sleep. Bring an old blanket for him to curl up in if it gets chilly during the overnight. Remember your dog is a part of the family too so make sure you look after him too.

How To Keep Summer Flies Away From Pets

Looking for quick blood meal flies target parts of the animal body where the skin is thinnest, and blood vessels are closest to the surface, such as the tips of the ears and the nose. Fly bites irritate animal skin and can cause inflammation and infection. Serious maggot infestation can follow.

What to Look for

Flies leave tell-tale signs that they are feasting upon your pet.

 painful bumps
 bloody spots
 small scabs
 raw skin areas with fur rubbed off
 biting and scratching

Your vet may prescribe full-strength antibiotics and anti-itch medication for your pet once the fly bite has incurred an infection. Self-care remedies, such as keeping the area clean and dry, applying an over-the-counter antibiotic, may be ineffective once your pet has entered the itch-scratch-itch cycle. He will not allow the affected area to heal. Permanent damage, like thickened skin and even ear amputation, can occur if left untreated.

Tips to Keeping Flies Away from Your Pet

 Keep your pet indoors during the heat of the day.
 Clean up feces immediately and dispose of it far away from pet areas.
 Clean feeding dishes after your pet is finished eating.
 Eliminate any bare dirt spaces in the yard with grass or other plant ground cover.
 Wash your pet with deodorizing shampoo with eucalyptus oils as often as your vet recommends.
 If your pet must be outdoors, keep him in areas where there is air-flow and is shaded. Turn on a fan to keep air-flowing and cool in pet areas. Flies prefer heat.
 Use fly guards for ears, legs, and bellies of horses to keep flies from landing and biting.
 Use natural predators to keep the fly population in stables and yards under control. Natural predators include birds, frogs, chickens, carnivorous plants, and tiny insects that feed on fly larvae. Natural predator insects may be purchased in bags and sprinkled around fly-prone areas.

Fly Repellents

Rub the inside of your pet’s ears with some of these products:

 Noxema facial cream contains fragrances that repel flies.
 Vaseline. Flies can’t bite through the layer of gel, which moisturizes the skin.
 Natural fly repellents contain eucalyptus or citronella oils. But do not apply either of these oils in their pure form directly onto the skin.
 Chemical fly repellents use effective ingredients like permethrin and resmethrin to repel flies.
 Some homemade remedies rely on garlic, but have negligible results and end up repelling humans, too.

If your pet is being pestered by biting flies, keep him safe with these tips. Check him often for hot spots and take him to the vet for immediate treatment.