Properly Select a Campsite


Selecting a Camp Site


© copyright 2005, by Gary Benton

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One area most of us never consider very much is where we place our campsite. I have often seen folks at the end of the day just stop where they are without much thought and start making a camp. This is all find and dandy, as long as the weather is mild, but if it is cold, windy, or raining, perhaps you should do a little thinking. Also, even in the best of weather a camping area should be given some serious thought. Not all camping spots are created equal.


First, you need a spot that has a supply of wood for your fire. It is kind of useless to make a camp where you cannot find a fuel source, unless you are packing a portable stove or heater. And, most of us enjoy a campfire at night, so we can set around it and tell ghost stories or just unwind.


Additionally, a spot near water is also important, unless you brought your own. Make sure the water is clear and running, but remember to purify it before you use it. Puddles of water, some ponds, and swamps may not offer water that is safe to drink, so always purify any water you take while out in the field.


Your camping spot should also be located out of the wind, which means in the rocks or shelter of a group of trees. Wind can really make a camping spot cold if it picks up and the temperature drops a little, even in the summer. Also, make sure your spot is not placed near:


  Dead trees or under dead limbs, they can fall on you or crush your gear if they fall.


  Rivers can rise, even if it rains miles off in the mountains, and never camp on a small island in the middle of a river. You could drown.


  Near dead animals, because if the animal has been dead for some time it will stink. If the animal is a fresh kill a large animal may come back to feed on it.


  Near loose rocks or dirt that can slide down on you.


  Near snow avalanche areas


  Near swamps because the bugs will be out in force! Mosquitoes and other insects love swamps, so stay away from them if possible. Remember, insects can carry diseases.


  Never camp too close to the ocean when you are on the beach. Check the high tide area, which will have drift wood and seaweed, and camp back from that point.


  On a hill, rain will run down hill and make your camp wet.


If you are in a survival situation, place your camp near an open area where you can run out if an aircraft flies over. It pays to be seen and you can place your signals out in the open field.


Caves are often discussed by campers and they make excellent shelters in most situations. However, keep in mind animals may be using it as well, so enter the cave with caution. I have camped in numerous caves and I really enjoy being in them. I like the constant temperature, regardless of the outside temperature, and more than one time I have watched snow falling as I sat by a campfire in a cavern. The temperature of a cave will remain in the 70's most of the year around.


Campsites, we rarely think much about where to camp, but I suggest we do. Camping can be a great deal of fun, but if you camp in a bad spot the whole trip can go down the tubes very quickly. Remember to consider where your camp is to be placed before you pitch the tent.




Selecting a Camp Site


Gary Benton has over 45 years of outdoor experience in camping, hiking, fishing, and other activities. He's no armchair survival man, he's walked the walk from the arctic to the desert and all the area in between. Gary has an associates degree in Search and Rescue, Survival Operations, a B.S. in Industrial Occupational safety, and all but his thesis completed for a M.S. in Counseling Psychology.
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