City girl goes camping

One of my favorite things about the US? Squirrels.

While squirrels weren’t really things you saw in Barcelona, Spain (I saw my first squirrel when I was 8), in the US you can find squirrels everywhere. For some reason at UF the squirrel population seems to average the population of some minority groups on campus.

*To put my squirrel appreciation statement in perspective, in 18 years I had never gone camping or even come close to touching a tent. *

On May 16, 2016, Kyle and I started a two-month road trip across the United States, in which camping was essential in making our budget work out. Now imagine someone as nature-incompetent as I putting up a tent.

Camping wasn’t, especially when you’ve never done it before. However, having someone who is used to nature is a tremendous help. Even then, I browserd through a million and one “must have while camping” checklists to make sure I knew what to bring. REI camping checklist has complete list of what you need before going camping, so I’d check that one out for reference.

Since I was ignorant of campground etiquette, I did some research on my own. KOA Kampgrounds (KOA website) is the world’s largest system of privately owned campgrounds, with almost 500 locations in the US and Canada, according to KOA reports. They usually have a pool, a kid playground, a laundry room, showers, and a little food section. I personally didn’t consider this real wilderness camping because although I was sleeping on the floor, I had all of the commodities to survive without any struggles.

So you know, most campgrounds run on an honor system, which means that if you haven’t reserved your spot in advance, you can pay for it when you arrive by leaving money in a pay-box on your own will. You should also keep in mind that because of constraints imposed by Congress and weather, rates can change without notice, according to the U.S. National Forest Campground Guide. Typically, fees are anywhere from $5 to $12 per day (this fee applies per vehicle), but could go up to $25, according to the U.S. National Forest Campground Guide. The most convenient websites to book campsites are ReserveAmerica.com and recreation.gov.

If you’re not planning on camping in KOAs, start mentally preparing yourself that this is going to be your life for however long you are adventuring. There are four types of campsites: the ones with real toilets and showers, the ones with just toilets, the ones with a hole on the ground and a porta-potty that hasn’t been checked for months and the ones with bushes.

Before your adventure begins ask yourself what kind of camper you want to be. I knew bushes and I weren’t going to become best friends so I told Kyle (road-trip partner) in advance that he could forget about showering in the river and living life as if he were a caveman.

What this city girl learned while camping is that one of the most important things about going on an adventure is knowing your own limitations. For my city people, give camping a try, do as much research as you can and be mentally ready, because believe me you will find nothing natural about sleeping on the floor.

Don’t be ashamed if you don’t particularly like nature. A paper from The Society for Consumer Psychology suggests that nature doesn’t have the same calming effects for everyone and that in fact there are people who find zen in crowded cities that never sleep.

Moral of the story 1: Bring someone who knows about nature or is at least comfortable with it.

Moral of the story 2: Be willing to learn how to put up your own tent because some nights you won’t want to wait for someone else to put up your tent.

Moral of the story 3: Bear spray is a thing, buy it. (THAT’S ANOTHER STORY.)

dsc_0002_editedPS: My tend is the green one. Doesn’t it look artsy with the bird and all ?

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