Choosing Your Campground: 3 Things You Must Do Before Pitching That Tent

August 3, 2021

I was contemplating recently taking the family to the local state park to enjoy a long weekend in Grandpa Piper's old Army surplus tent. So being the kind of guy I am, I headed out there solo, scouting the area and making sure that I wouldn't be getting us into a miserable situation and ascertaining the feasibility of such an endeavor.

What I found was a fairly quiet and unassuming grounds that was well kept and not very busy. There were about six families camping in an area that would support sixty or so. The grass was well kept and there were just about as many groundskeepers out as there were campsites. There was also a more permanent camper, (a pull behind), in the area that is designated to be "primitive". And, it was actually hooked up to power and sewage, the only power and sewage connection in the area. This tells me that this person is most likely a trustee or advisor of some sort; the parks version of a security guard who will likely have a park radio and will be watching out for trouble. These guys are usually ex-cops who are widowed or who can't get along with their wives... usually! Sometimes they are something else, and what that something else is will likely be determined by how serious minded the local law enforcement are. In any event, that was a factor for my consideration in determining whether or not I wanted to take my family camping there.

I was also concerned with other factors, all of them revolving around the safety of the place. And I have three things that I needed to consider and investigate, in order to decide whether or not this is the place for me. So, here are three things you should seriously consider before you choose a campsite where your family will be with you.

1. Know your predators . I'm not talking about grizzly bears and wildcats. Though these are a factor, and I will be addressing them further down the list, these are not my main concern. I'm referring to human predators here. There is no better place for perverts and serial offenders to look for victims. I won't delve into this to any great extent; however, if you search the national sex offender registry, you will be able to determine how many documented sexual predators are in the area. You're likely to be surprised at what you find.

2. Know the local wildlife. This includes predators like we referenced earlier but also goes on to include venomous reptiles as well as nuisance animals such as raccoons, opossums, and Canadian Geese, (yes I said GEESE!). Snakes and other venomous reptiles can of course ruin a camping trip, so you need to educate yourself on what you're likely to come across in the area. Raccoons and opossums can make you miserable and the best state parks will have rangers who cruise around in the wee hours during the off season, and decimate the population with .22 pistols so that their park is not overrun. Geese will overpopulate as well and will throng to an area and cover it with large piles of greasy waste material, (goose shit technically speaking), and make you miserable as you try to make your way to the outhouse in the middle of the night.

3. Make sure emergency services are up to par. This means a local full time life squad and a hospital that is closer than twenty minutes away. Who, reading this, doesn't know somebody who has fallen into a campfire before and been badly burned? Sitting here writing this, I personally know three people who have and who suffered terrible burns because of it.

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