July 6, 2022

Camping Happy on The Land
By Walter Bachteler

BD19 Camping 6858 1200 640Tents and canopies of every kind appear on the Land on festival weekends. Big Dub 2019.

“...stories of great adventures, not catastrophes.”

Camping is one of the things most people do while they’re at Four Quarters. Here are some helpful hints about camping on The Land.

Always prepare for rain & cold
Take it from a long-timer: this is hard learned wisdom! The environment of Four Quarters, a mountainous valley in the central Allegheny foothills of south-central Pennsylvania has notoriously wildly random weather conditions... sometimes within each day!

Tents & Tenting
You get what you pay for. Try to stay with the national brands. A four-person tent holds two people and a minimal amount of gear. If you look at the diagram you will see four small people laying head to foot next to each other. You may want to set up your new tent in the backyard before trying to set it up after you’ve driven several hours and it’s close to sunset. Remember when you put your tent away it needs to be folded slightly smaller than the length of the bag it came in before rolling it up.

When looking for a place to set up your tent do not put it in a gully or low spot. I have seen tents with 6 inches of water in a tent because they were in a gully. Keep your tent away from your campfire. Sparks and tents do not mix well.

When putting your ground cloth down make sure the tent covers all the edges of the ground cloth. This is especially important when using a plastic ground cloth. The rain will roll off your tent onto the exposed ground cloth and then make a puddle underneath your floor. Water does not go through plastic tarps. I like the woven plastic beach mats for my ground cloths. Water will go through them and they protect the floor of the tent from sharp things on the ground. They will also keep the floor dryer. Most tents leak a little bit especially if there is something on the inside touching the wall of the tent.

I enjoy sleeping on a cot when I camp. An air mattress when it is cold out will make it difficult for you to keep warm. They are fine in the hot summer. In the cold spring and fall I prefer a small cot with a pad on it. When selecting a sleeping bag buy one rated colder than you think you will need. It is better to open a sleeping bag to adjust the temperature when it is hot, than to freeze in the night when it is cold.

I keep my clothes in water-tight containers. I pack an extra set of clothes than what I need. I have more than one pair of shoes. Plus footwear that will protect your feet if you go through mud and water. Always prepare for rain. If you plan to go swimming take a pair of water shoes. The rocks in the creek hurt your feet if you are barefoot.

Camp Cooking
If you decide to cook your food I recommend a propane stove. Even an old Eagle Scout like me finds cooking on a wood fire time-consuming and frustrating especially if it’s wet. Bring more than one lighter. Learn to wash dishes safely (consult YouTube). I use hot water and three dishpans, one wash, one rinse and one sanitize with a teaspoon of bleach in the water. Do not wash dishes at the water spigots, take water to your campsite.

Everyone in your campsite should be willing to help make food and clean up afterwards. This avoids grumpy people.

Most commercial pop-up canopies do not hold up well to wind or rain. I’ve seen many in the dumpster after a gathering. Most do not drain water well and will make puddles on the roof that collapse the metal supports. A canopy will also try to fly away with a good breeze. I use store-bought weights or gallon water jugs tied onto the legs. I have also tied canopies to trees. Although I tried for several years, I never mastered the art of putting up a tarp for a canopy, good luck if you decide to put one up.

When leaving your campsite to do fun things.
Always prepare for rain. Cover your chairs, sitting on a wet chair is uncomfortable. Put out your fire. Zipper up the doors and windows in your tent. Your campsite is always a long way away when it starts raining.

When you leave your camp site after dinner, or near sundown, grab your flashlight. I recommend flashlights you can put in your pocket. I always take two flashlights camping in case one breaks or gets lost. Bring extra batteries.

DnS22 PoisionIvy 6825 1200Our little friends. A Sprig of Poison Ivy behind the Coffee Dragons.

Poison lvy
Learn what poison ivy looks like. [See above] If you don’t know after consulting the internet or knowledgeable camp staff , remember these suggestions. Stay on the path, poison ivy does not grow on the roads or paths. Poison Ivy will grow along side of the paths in with the trees. Leave vines that grow up a tree alone especially if the vines look hairy. They are most likely poison ivy. Never burn a vine. Poison ivy is an oil-based toxin that is very hazardous when burned. If you should come in contact with poison ivy, wash with cold water and soap (dish soap is preferred). Warm water will make it spread quickly.

Following these simple suggestions can dramatically improve your camping experience. My goal is to have stories of great adventures, not catastrophes.

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This Article originally appeared in the 2022 Wheel of The Year Calendar.