RFB Content Contributor Eli Raskin gives us a few tips on living the wilderness life.
People, get excited; camping season is here! Camping has never been easier and more accessible. Here’s are some tips to get you started.
Step 1: Decide what experience you want.
Before you start looking for campsites, you’ll want to decide what experience you want. People go camping for thousands of reasons and there are options for every one of you. On one side of the aisle is “glam camping” which involves camping with TV, Wifi, and A/C access. On the other side are primitive campsites which are usually nothing more than just a spot off a dirt road with no amenities (yup, no amenities. Bring a shovel, toilet paper, and a few gallons of Poland Spring.) The number of options is endless and there are tens of campgrounds targeting whatever experience you are looking for. The search will be much easier if you know before you begin whether you’ll be bringing an RV to a child-friendly campground, or if you want a lakefront accessible site to chill with friends and finally use that tent you got as a graduation gift.
Tip: If you don’t have a car, there are many campgrounds you can get to using public transportation! (The closest to Bushwick is Camp Gateway located on the grounds of Floyd Bennett Field. Campsites are $30 a night and it is accessible via the Q35 bus.) If you want to really get out of NYC though, renting a car will be the best bet.
Step 2: Start researching
Once you have decided what you are looking for, a great place to start is Reserve America. This slick website is a great way to search thousands of campsites with the ease of online booking. It has a simple interface, picture tours of most campgrounds, interactive maps and easy online booking with email confirmation. A quick tip; while this is a great place to start, don’t be scared to get your hands dirty! Get creative with Google Maps, flex your online skills, and try to look at local newspapers that may have insider articles about good campsites.
Note: Around NYC, all the good places will probably be booked early because of the sheer amount of people with the same idea. Don’t get discouraged if the first few places that come up online are already booked up. Some places to get your search started are Harriman State Park (North of Manhattan, near Bear Mountain) and Wildwood State Park (Long Island, 30 minutes past Port Jefferson on the North Shore). Both are easiest to get to in your car but for the more adventurous readers are accessible via Metro-North and the LIRR respectively and a short cab or bike ride.
Step 3: Know your limits and be safe.
Know your abilities, skills, and comfort levels. There are many trustworthy packing guides on sites like Backpacker, along with great articles and reliable resources. If this is your first time or you’re rusty, there is no shame in starting with one of the campgrounds that are in close vicinity to cities with pizza shops if you can’t get a fire going or a Walmart in case you need more toilet paper. Use your common sense and know your abilities.
Tip: Remember to take care of nature and leave the campsite cleaner than you found it. If not for environmental reasons, at the very least do it so that people after you can also enjoy the relaxing sounds and smells of nature.
Step 4: Stop researching, and go!
There are so many reasons you’re “not ready” to go camping but at some point, you have to book a site and go! Don’t overthink it; nature is one big activity! Hike, swim, toss a football, birdwatch or tie a hammock between two trees and meditate. If you let the stress of trying to pack and plan for every eventuality get in the way of you heading out you’ll never get out!