62 Days of Summer
The last lazy days of summer are just right for a taking break from civilization. Whether you’re looking for a week in the wild or a weekend at the nearest campground, sleeping in a tent under the stars can be a great getaway.
To help you out on your trip, we’ve put together a list of things you definitely should bring with you, and of things you’d best leave home.
Some are pretty self-evident: Take the items that you always pack for picnics, like bug spray and paper towels and forks, and those you always pack for overnight trips, like a toothbrush and deodorant. But some necessities aren’t as obvious.
So we called in two experts who have witnessed lots of camping trips — the good, the bad and the ugly — for advice.
•From Ron Van Fleet, the owner of Alps Family Campground in Averill Park:
A tarp. Even without a storm, soil can be damp, which means moisture will probably reach your sleeping bag.
“Put a tarp under your tent, so you’re waterproof underneath,” said Van Fleet. And since you might need one for a roof, “don’t forget the ropes to lash it down with.”
Tent poles. “Believe me, it happens. So many people bring the tent without the tent poles,” said Van Fleet.
On a similar note, when you’re packing, ask yourself: “does X function independently?” Your cans need an opener, your knives need a cutting board, your flashlights need batteries.
• From Hilary Oreschnick, who owns Log Village and Grist Mill Campground in Granville with her husband, Bob:
Towels. Unlike at a hotel, they will not be provided. “Drip drying is not much fun, really,” Oreschnick said.
Favorite sauce. Campfires can be tricky to cook over, and a marinade or sauce can salvage a botched piece of meat. It’s worth the cooler space, Oreschnick said.
• And my own additions:
Duct tape, to fix anything, from a hole in your tent to a broken clasp on your day pack. If your glasses suddenly break, the drawer with your extra pair will seem so far away. It won’t be pretty, but duct tape will hold a frame together.
A plastic tablecloth. You never know how splintery and damp the tables can be.
A water carrier, because if you’re relying on a campsite water tap, you’ll want to be carrying something bigger than an Evian bottle back and forth to it.
Leave at home
There are things you will not need; remember, overpacking quite literally weighs you down.
• From Ron Van Fleet:
Firewood. The woodpile in your backyard could be infested with termites or other bugs. Campers who bring their own wood into forests can spread those bugs, Van Fleet said.
That’s why it’s illegal in New York to transport firewood more than 50 miles from where you’ll be burning it.
Besides, wood is very heavy. Buy it at the campground office.
•From Hilary Oreschnick:
Unpleasant people, even family members “you can’t stand being with.”
Exposure to the naked elements of nature often brings out the worst in us — it’s the reality of camping.
“You’ll want a bear to eat them in the woods, or you’ll want to push them off a boat for the snapping turtle to lunch on,” Oreschnick joked. “Be a little selfish and enjoy yourself.”
• And finally, my recommended items to forget:
Enough canned food to survive the apocalypse. Plan meals and bring just the ingredients you’ll need.
Flower-scented perfume. You’ll attract every bug in the region.
Nice jewelry. It’s too easy to lose.
Have a favorite summer activity? Let us know about it. Share your ideas for Summer Days at www.dailygazette.com/summerdays or firstname.lastname@example.org.