Rural Missouri - May 2017 - 34
summer camping Trip
by Debra Gibson Isaacs | email@example.com
and Zach Smith | firstname.lastname@example.org
hy does food taste better when it's cooked over a campﬁre? Why is a star-ﬁlled sky the best nightlight ever made? Why is the call of birds the coolest
concert around? Why does a body of water simultaneously excite and calm us?
The answers may be elusive, but that doesn't matter. What matters is that the great outdoors beckons us all. Some seek the tranquility of a solitary
hike through the forest. Others prefer the thrill of a raft splashing them through the rapids. Some want a ﬁsh on the end of a line while still others
delight in the sight of a majestic elk or curious bear cub. Few can resist the sound sleep that comes so naturally at the end of an active day.
It's time to get outdoors. Use your sense of adventure. Dust off your ability to wander and be awed. Hike. Fish. Camp. Canoe. Bike. Look for geocaches. Have
fun. Make memories.
Finding the right spot
Some 45.5 million people went camping in the spring of 2016, according to
www.statista.com, and everyone who loves camping has a favorite spot. Some
may prefer the stunning vistas of the northern Missouri plains at sunset,
while others may prefer the shady cool on the banks of an Ozarks stream
during a weekend-long ﬂoat trip.
Few could argue with these choices, but perhaps you want to ﬁnd "your"
spot - a place that uniquely suits your needs, desires and interests. Maybe
you just want to ﬁnd a weekend getaway closer to home. Where do you turn?
Karen Brost, avid camper and frequent blogger for www.gocampingamerica.
com, says that while it's good to get recommendations from others, she
encourages people to develop their own lists of favorite campgrounds because
we all have different needs and interests.
"Some campers want to have easy access to great hiking trails while others
may want to participate in water-based activities such as canoeing, kayaking
and rafting," she says. "On the other hand, families with young children
may be interested in campgrounds that offer organized activities for kids or
amenities like a pool or splash pad.
"Once people start searching for a campground, they might be surprised by
the diversity that they'll ﬁnd. For example, there are campgrounds that offer
special theme weekends, live entertainment, day spas or hot springs, festivals
or extreme adventures like zip lining. For those who don't necessarily want to
rough it, there are 'glamping' experiences that combine camping with resortlike amenities."
One commonality is that more and more campers today are using online
resources to ﬁnd the best campgrounds for their needs. Go Camping America
offers one of the largest online databases of privately owned campgrounds,
while www.gorving.com's list includes RV parks and campgrounds, public
lands, national scenic byways and inspiring destinations. The National Park
Service also has more than 130 designated campgrounds and backcountry
locations available for camping at www.nps.gov/subjects/camping. And
these are just a few of the options.
Before beginning your search, Brost says it can help to take a few minutes
to deﬁne what's really important to you. Ask yourself these questions. Those
new to camping may also want to "test drive" the camping experience before
investing in a lot of equipment, she says.
"One option is to consider renting an RV," Brost says. "Many campgrounds
also offer furnished accommodations such as cabins or park models. Some
even rent yurts, teepees, vintage Airstream trailers and covered wagons."
Don't forget that there are good camping grounds not too far from
your front door. More than 40 Missouri state parks and historic sites have
camping facilities, ranging from places to pitch a tent or hook up an RV to
rooms and cabins for rent. A few rules do apply: Most weekend reservations
require a minimum two-night stay, and pets are limited to two dogs
per campsite. Visit www.mostateparks.com to ﬁnd and reserve
campsites in advance and read up on advisories.
Nearly 200 Missouri Department of
Conservation sites plus National Forest
areas around the state also have
established camping areas plus
trails for hiking or streams and
lakes for ﬁshing. Visit nature.
mdc.mo.gov or www.fs.fed.us
to ﬁnd campsites and tips for
RURAL MISSOURI | MAY 2017
Things to remember
DON'T MOVE FIREWOOD
Missouri's woods are a great place to camp, but it's up to
campers to help keep them that way and in some cases it's the
law. Destructive diseases such as thousand cankers disease
and invasive insects such as emerald ash borers like to hitch
rides in ﬁrewood. When the wood is moved into a new area,
they can wreak havoc on the forest. If you're camping
somewhere besides your backyard, buy - or, where
allowed, cut - your ﬁrewood locally. Also, check with
your chosen campsite's ofﬁce or
website to read up on ﬁrewood
bans and advisories that may
be in effect.
BE BEAR AWARE
They're probably not the ﬁrst critter people think of
when they go camping, but black bear populations are on the
rise in southern Missouri. While black bears rarely attack
humans, it's good practice to keep campsites clean and pets
on leashes while camping. Most importantly, never feed bears.
Read more about how to stay bear aware in the outdoors at www.
mdc.mo.gov, and report any bear sightings to MDC staff.
"Be Prepared" is the motto of the Boy Scouts of America for a reason: It's
better to have something and not need it than to need it and not have it.
Make a checklist of everything you might need during the trip and cross
the items off as you're packing. Always check the forecast for your campsite
ahead of time and dress in layers so you can stay comfortable with changing
weather. Whether you're keeping cool in an air-conditioned RV or hooﬁng it
on the Ozark Trail with a pack, considering stowing some of these items in
your camping kit:
First aid kit
Flashlights (and extra batteries)
Map and compass
Knife or multitool
Toothbrush and toothpaste
Rain gear or umbrellas