First priority is selecting a site that is generally flat and smooth in the area where you’ll pitch your tent, or set out your sleeping bags.
If there’s a chance of rain, pick a site that’s a little higher than the surrounding terrain so rain won’t collect around or in your tent. Sometimes a low area looks soft and appealing, but you don’t want to have to swim out in the morning.
An ideal site also offers privacy, a mix of sunshine and shade, and a source of water. Camping by a river, lake or ocean can be especially pleasant.
Find a place on a western slope or ledge so the early morning sun will brighten your camping area.
Setting Up Camp
Family camping tip: Setting up your tent and organizing your site is entertaining when you turn chores into games. Have a contest to see who can gather the most kindling the fastest. Divide your group into two teams and hold a camping cook-off to determine who can prepare the most delectable campsite dinner. And, using those same teams, time which crew can wash the day’s dishes the quickest.
Set up your tent and roll out your sleeping bag as soon as you can. Give the loft in the bag time to come back to life.
Hang a piece of rope or cord for a clothesline. (You can split the ends of some small sticks for clothespins.)
Always set up all guy lines on your tent before you go to sleep. That ensures you won’t have to deal with your tent coming unsecured in the middle of the night if the wind kicks up.
Keeping Wildlife Out of Your Campsite
Hanging your pack on a tree isn’t enough. Completely cover it with extra trash bags. Those camp mice are everywhere.
Don’t take food in your tent. Only water.
When you leave, put your fire dead out and scatter any rocks you may have used for a fire ring.
Don’t take clothes you wore while cooking inside the tent – the food odor remaining on them may attract pests.
Try to do your cooking, eating, and cleaning up at least 100 feet from tent sites.