There is nothing quite like spending the night under the stars, serenely drifting off to sleep amid the peaceful chirps of crickets and the sound of trickling streams. That is, of course, if you've successfully packed the essentials for your camping trip.
Unpreparedness can be a camper's worst nightmare, leading to a restless night of shivering and itchy bug bites.
People head outdoors and away from civilization for a different experience – to unplug and enjoy a change of scenery. Camping is a popular pastime in Missouri, with hundreds of thousands of people pitching a tent, traveling in an RV and renting a yurt each year.
Every camper has his or her own style and preference, from the bare-bones man (or woman) versus nature survival trip to "glamping" or glamorous camping – and everything in between.
Fortunately, Missouri has 88 state parks and historic sites offering almost 3,600 campsites, ranging from secluded walk-in sites to spots that offer amenities such as hot showers, laundry facilities and Wi-Fi. Visit the Missouri State Parks website to find and reserve a campsite that is right for you.
Regardless of your approach to camping, there's no shortage of gear to be had. Here is a list of seven essentials no camper should leave home without, no matter what level of comfort you seek during your commune with nature.
Shelter is first and foremost on the list of essentials. If you are camping in a tent, invest in a durable, high-quality model that is easy to set up and take down, weatherproof and able to withstand high winds. Also consider including a stake hammer and tent repair kit … just in case.
Sleeping bags come in all shapes, sizes and prices. Be sure to purchase one that is suitable for the climate and time of year in which you will be camping. For added comfort, consider a sleeping cot, air mattress, extra blankets and ear plugs.
The endless supply of camping gadgets and gizmos available make it easy to get carried away. Remember to keep it simple and go minimal, especially if you are backpacking, but be sure to include the essentials: bug spray, flashlight/lantern/headlamp, compass, pocketknife, water bottle and lighter.
Depending on how long you are camping, toiletries are a must but should also be kept to the bare necessities including: toilet paper, sunscreen, soap and shampoo. Be sure to check for environmental safety in the items you choose.
Camping can be an exciting but unpredictable adventure. Be prepared for anything by packing a first aid kit that is readily available and well-stocked with the essentials including: bandages, antibiotic ointment, aloe, pain medicines, antiseptic and tweezers.
From roasting hot dogs and marshmallows to cooking Dutch oven lasagna, there are a few food preparation staples that are mandatory, regardless of what you plan to cook while camping. Be sure to store your perishable items in a durable, yet portable, cooler and pack basic cookware, utensils, fuel, trash bags, dish soap and paper towels.
Last but certainly not least, be equipped with fun activities and games to enjoy while camping. Water toys, footballs, Frisbees and playing cards can provide hours of enjoyment for campers of all ages. And of course, don't forget your camera (or cell phone) for capturing the good times.
As you embark on your camping trip, it is not only important to be prepared, but to also remember camping etiquette so that you can experience the outdoors while respecting Mother Nature and your fellow campers.
Important Notice: Help control the spread of the Emerald Ash Borer which is killing ash trees throughout the Midwest. Purchase your firewood at the site or nearby. Do not transport firewood from one location to another. Do not take your own firewood from home. Do not take firewood from the campsite to any other location.
Written by Amanda Long