BRIAN JOHNSON ON OUTDOORS: Time to go camping, but first, here are ins, outs

Published 11:43 pm Saturday, July 14, 2018

Every summer millions of Americans load up their vehicles and head out on a camping adventure.

While some are certainly far from roughing it with their 40-plus foot motor homes equipped with all of the luxuries of home, others simply have a hammock or sleeping bag for their accommodations. One thing that all campers have in common is that they are seeking an escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life and are looking for a little time with nature to help them relax. 

With our recent motorhome purchase, I am quickly learning the ins and outs of camping.  I am discovering that a little preparation goes a long way.  Below are a few things that I have learned so far that can help make your trip even more fun and relaxing:

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1. Make reservations well in advance

I have always been a spontaneous, fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants, shoot-from-the-hip kind of guy. However this doesn’t always work well when camping.

This is even more true if you are in a giant Class A motorhome. I remember one trip when I thought I would just head out and stop at a camp ground along the way. The problem was that I wasn’t the only one who was camping that week. Many campgrounds fill up weeks or even months in advance, so if you want a spot go ahead and reserve it. 

If you don’t save a spot you can always rely on rest areas and truck stops like I did.  However even these seem to fill up as well, and the view from a state park is much better than it is from a truck stop. 

2. Bring or meet as many people as you can

Up until this last few years, we had all four of our children living at home.  Now that all but one have moved out, we sometimes find that it’s just my wife and I who will be going on a trip. 

No doubt we love our time alone, but it is also great fun to plan the trips when family or friends can go as well. This is where an RV or camping club comes in handy. 

If you don’t have people you know camping with you, then I encourage you to meet other campers.  I find that most are super friendly, and I’ve already made some new friends and learned a few things along the way.

3. Be like Santa Claus

Make a list and check it twice, just like the song says. 

Be sure to include all of the things you want to bring. From books to read to fishing gear, camp supplies, food, and clothing … write it all down and check your list to make sure you pack it all.  So far this year I have had burgers with meat and buns only and a fish fry with no ketchup. (BBQ sauce on fried fish just isn’t the same.) 

I’ve forgotten my lawn chairs and propane grill as well. From now on I have a list.

4. Put your phones down

Everyone has a cell phone these days and most are addicted.  If you are like me, cell phones play a vital role in your business and personal life.

As a DuckDogTrainer, I feel that I need to know what is going on at the kennel at all times and this includes when traveling. I would never leave my phone at home. However, I can set it down for a few hours and enjoy the great outdoors with family and friends. 

Instead of playing on your phone, play a game, go on a bike ride, or simply spend time talking to each other. Make the people on you trip your top priority of the day. Relaxing and unwinding away from our normal routines are what the camping life is all about.

5. Take lots of pictures

When camping, I encourage you to take lots of pictures of family, friends, the people you meet and the places you go. Capture a beautiful sunrise or sunset. Grab a nice image of the babbling brook or the majestic mountains. When you are taking these pictures, don’t forget to thank God, who created this beautiful place that we call planet Earth, and remember He created you as well.

I hope these tips help make your camping trips even better.

Happy camping and may God richly bless you!

Brian Johnson, originally of Port Neches, is pastor of the Outdoorsman’s Church in Winnie, owner of and outdoors writer for The News.