Camping 101

Camping 101

Be prepared

Camping is so much fun and being prepared will make it even more enjoyable. First, you need to make your camping reservation, learn how to check in and set up at the campground, follow a few basic campground safety tips,a list of activity ideas will add to your adventure and building an amazing, safe campfire will end your day in the best way possible.

Making your camping reservation

Campsite on lake

First, you need to plan your camping trip. Where do you want to go? What type of camping do you want to do? You have some options as far as campgrounds.  Let’s explore some options. Click here for a list of state, federal, private and even FREE campgrounds.Decide on an area and then find a campground that sounds like what you are looking for. Before you make a reservation it is a good idea to do a search for reviews. Check out a few review websites before you make the reservation.




Outdoorsy rental RV


Are you going to rent an RV? Outdoorsy makes it easy to search for the perfect camper for your amazing RV travels. Click here to learn all about making your RV reservation.


Arrival and set up and the campground

Campers setting up in desert

When you arrive at the campground you will want to know how to check in and set up your campsite. Click on the campground arrival and set up guide to learn how to check in to the campground, find your site, inspect the site before you pull in, level the RV, hook up the water, sewer and electric. If you are renting your camper, the owner may have a checklist for you to follow but if not just follow the steps here.


Basic camping safety tips

Wildlife safety

At some point in your camping adventures, you will be face to face with some kind of wildlife. Dangerous encounters are very rare but it is a good idea to be prepared. Don’t let fear stop you from fully enjoying nature. Wildlife safety while camping is all about being aware of your surroundings and knowing what to do in the event of an encounter. See Wildlife Safety 


How to stay safe while camping and bad weather happens

We all hope for sunny skies and warm temperatures when we go camping but sometimes that just doesn’t happen. Listening to the rain hit the roof of your camper can be very relaxing but what do you do when the light rain turns into severe weather? Here are some bad weather safety tips.


Camping activities

Once you are all set up, it is time for the fun to begin. Check to see if your campground has any amenities like a pool, playground, horseshoe pits, driving range, guided tours or programs, movie nights, volleyball or badminton courts. You will probably want to spend some time just enjoying nature but at some point you will be ready for some other camping activities. The Camping Activities guide has enough ideas to keep you having fun during your entire trip.

Campfire tips

Verify that the campground or area you are camping in allows campfires and that there is not a burn ban in place due to a drought. Also, evaluate your site before you start your fire. If there are low hanging branches or the area is tight then keep your fire small. If there has not been any rain in a while the area may be dry and a fly away ember may cause a wildfire so keep the fire small, watch it very closely and keep a fire extinguisher handy.

Where to build a campfire

Some campgrounds provide fire rings or grills. If you are camping in an undeveloped site a campfire permit may be necessary. Check with the agency that is managing the land.

Don’t move the firepit. Even one fire can damage the ground to the point where nothing can grow for a long time. If everyone moved the firepit it could keep grass and plants from growing in spots all over the campsite.

Make sure you clean everything from the fire pit. The base of the fire should be gravel or sand.


Don’t bring firewood from out of the area. Doing so could introduce invasive insects to the area causing damage to the environment.

Types of wood needed for a campfire

  • Tinder- small twigs, dry leaves, needles. These will be needed to help get the fire started.
  • Kindling- small sticks
  • Firewood- larger pieces of wood that will burn for longer periods of time.

Lighting the campfire

The easiest assembly for a campfire is a teepee. Start with a handful of tinder and add kindling around in a teepee shape. Once the fire gets going you will add larger pieces of kindling and then the firewood one at a time.

Light the tinder with a match or lighter. A firestarter can help get the flames started.

After you have started the tinder, blow gently at the base of the fire to provide oxygen which will help the fire grow. As the flames get bigger add larger pieces of kindling and then firewood slowly.

Extinguishing a campfire

This is the most important step of all and one that many people skip.

Make sure that you completely extinguish your fire by pouring water on it, stir the ashes and repeat until the coals are cool to the touch.  A smoldering fire can reignite and an unattended fire can get out of control very quickly.

Only burn trash that can be burned to ashes. Never burn plastic, cans or foil.

Camp responsibly

7 principles of Leave No Trace

The Leave No Trace Seven Principles are the bedrock of the Leave No Trace program. They provide guidance to enjoy our natural world in a sustainable way that avoids human-created impacts. The principles have been adapted so they can be applied in your backyard or your backcountry.