Tips for #039;safe#039; summer camping

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Camping can be one of the best experiences a person can have.

The fresh air and the chance to spend a little time in the great outdoors can be very therapeutic for a person.

But there is a catch. You have to be slightly organized.

Email newsletter signup

If you just throw a camping trip together you are asking for trouble.

My friends and I proved that this weekend.

The first thing that you should always remember on a camping trip is a form of shelter.

This proved to be a mistake this past weekend.

If you have five people camping odds are that you will need more than one tent.

That was exactly the case. It turned out that there was only room in the tent for two or three depending on how comfortable you wanted to be.

Because I was the host of this camping trip I decided I would just sleep in my sleeping bag outside.

This brings me to another piece of camping advice.

There have been plenty of times that I just didn't feel like sleeping in the tent and threw down a bag and slept just fine.

This time my luck ran out. The grass at the campsite was about three feet tall.

As it turns out, grass that high is a perfect hiding place for ants.

When I threw my bag down it stirred an entire colony up. There are a lot of bad ways to wake up, but I will go to my grave believing that waking up to a colony of ants working your feet over is the worst!

Luckily, I got out of there before there was much damage.

One of the larger problems we ran into was a source of light.

Normally, in the middle of the summer it is best to use a Coleman Lantern. They provide plenty of light and very little heat so you can comfortably

luminate your campground.

This was yet another item we forgot on our way to the campsite.

We were forced to get our light from a campfire.

If you wanted to see you had to get close to the fire. That meant entering an even hotter environment than the July air.

Finally, a nice breeze came off the river and made everything comfortable again.

Our biggest mistake of the evening was not keeping up with what was going on in nature.

A lot of things have changed with the wildlife since I left Choctaw County.

At some point in the Tombigbee River valley golden eagles and mosquitoes found a way to breed.

I would have never believed it if I hadn't seen it with my own eyes.

They would swoop down and take a chunk out of us once in a while to remind us of who was in charge.

We thought we could stop them with bug repellant, but I think they liked it.

When you add it all up we had more good times than bad.

I just felt it was my duty to warn people of the dangers of camping unprepared.

Rick Couch may be reached at

383-9302, ext. 132 or

via email at rick.