Smart campers know that arriving at their campsite early is ideal. You’ll need the daylight to familiarize yourself with the campground layout and to set up camp. Nobody wants to be fumbling in the dark for hours just trying to pitch their tent. If you can’t travel early, experienced campers advice that you arrive to have at least 3 hours of daylight before your first night’s sleep.
However, not everyone can manage to arrive at their campsite during daylight. Some may be coming off of work or travelling a long distance. It is indeed harder to set up camp at night, but with a few techniques, it is doable.
Here are some helpful tips for arriving at your campsite at night:
If you know you’ll be arriving late, make sure that all your gear are good and ready to go once you get to the campsite. Pack in a way that the things you’ll need to set up camp are at the top of your boxes so they’re easily accessible.
The last thing you want to do is to look for your tent or your tarps at the bottom of a box. Better yet, place everything you’ll need the first night in one place to keep things more organized.
Keep your lantern on you
Since you’re going to pitch your tent in the dark, you’ll need a good source of light. Similar to the first tip, you’ll want to know where you put your camping lantern or your flashlight because those are the first things you’re going to grab. Keep a source of light on you for good measure and always bring an extra with batteries.
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Have everyone be responsible for their things
Once you arrive at your site and unloaded your gear, have everyone get their own stuff and keep them close to them while pitching their tent. This helps avoid confusion and trying to look for something in a huge pile of boxes with everyone’s things in one place. Once you have your things with you, it will also help you figure out your next step after your tent is up.
Set up a campfire
This is totally your decision – it depends if you arrived at your campsite very late and you’re too tired. But if you get there early evening, create a campfire! It will keep everyone in the spirit of camping and in a good mood while setting up camp. It will not only up the atmosphere but will also provide you with another good source of light.
Eat a quick meal
After a long drive or hours of traveling, everybody will surely be hungry. Your camping meals should have been pre-planned, so that you’ll only have to heat up your dinner and it will be ready.
But if you don’t have a meal plan, go for something quick and easy to prepare like soup or sandwiches– nobody wants to cook an elaborate meal when they’re tired (and nobody wants to wait a long time for food when they’re hungry). And cook your dinner using a portable stove. Save your campfire cooking for another night.
Once your tent is up, you’ve had your dinner and you feel beat, it’s okay to go to bed early. Depending on how late you got to your campsite or how tired everyone is, you can choose to skip festivities for the night. You can bond around the campfire the next night. A good night’s rest will help you enjoy your time outdoors much better tomorrow.
Stay at your campsite
It’s only wise to stay within your campsite when you arrive since it’s going to be dark. This is especially true if it’s your first time in the area and if you have children with you. Remind everyone to stay close and to put off exploring for the next day. You don’t know who is camping nearby and what animals are out there so be careful and stay within the perimeter.
Respect your neighbors
If you’ll be arriving at your campground in the evening, be sure that you observe silence while setting up camp. This is especially true if you’ll get there late at night. Like you, other campers have had a long day and want to enjoy the peace and quiet of the outdoors during bed time.
So be mindful of your actions and conversations – not even you would want to wake up to the sound of rude campers pitching their tent or laughing loudly around the campfire in the dead of the night.
A lot of the things that will make setting up camp much easier, even in the dark, are a result of your careful planning and preparation at home. If everything is ready and organized beforehand, pitching a tent will be a breeze no matter what time of day it is!
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