Every year, at campground locations across the United States, there are a small number of children and adults who are on their first camping trips. About one in every ten campers report that they are new to camping and hiking; studies show that most campers take their first overnight trip before they learn to drive, and that the likelihood of taking up hiking and camping as a hobby does decrease with age.
Having the appropriate gear is essential: a sleeping bag that is comfortable during milder afternoon temperatures may not be “rated” for nighttime temperatures that can dip well below freezing. Checking online weather and camping websites that keep track of local temperatures and weather patterns — and making sure that younger campers wear appropriate layers — can ensure a good experience for beginning outdoor enthusiasts.
Practicing at home with cooking gear can also give first-time campers the confidence to produce meals over a fire or with a portable gas stove. Taking short walks in new hiking shoes can help make them more comfortable before a trip and can work to prevent injury; some hikers find that local strolls with a fully-packed backpack can help them figure out which items of clothing and gear are essential.
Although some hikers and campers rely on older, printed maps to navigate toward camp sites or camp grounds, some newer campers make sure to pack their mobile phones in waterproof containers. Having the ability to call park rangers in case of emergency and maintaining a link to family and friends can soothe younger campers who may be spending the night away from home for the first time.
Some camping grounds do require reservations, and confirming plans online or by phone is recommended well in advance. Enthusiastic campers often return to the same camping grounds each year; waiting to book a site can often mean cancellation of vacation plans. While summer camping remains popular, autumn camping and winter camping can allow busy professionals the chance to take an off-season adventure in a stunning outdoor environment.