Campgrounds Tips

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Can I live and work in a campground?

Working at a KOA Campground

If you'd like to camp out and get paid for it, the KOA Work Kamper program may be just what you're looking for. All you need is an RV or camper, your camping gear, and a desire to live and work in a KOA campground.

Many KOA campgrounds need seasonal help during their busiest seasons. They often turn to RVers who would like to put down roots for a few months and earn some cash at the same time. KOA Work Kampers live in their RVs, receive KOA discounts, and also are paid for their work.

Many private and government campgrounds also need help during the busy seasons. Some look to volunteers who live in the campgrounds, collect fees, and keep the sites tidy, and receive free camping space in return. Many others pay for these services. So, if you'd like to live and work in a park for a few months or longer, look into campground program such as the one KOA offers.

Can't I just drink from a river or stream if I get thirsty when I'm camping?

The Camping Supplies Checklist

Many campgrounds only offer "dry" camping, which means they don't have any drinkable water available at the campground. That means water will have to be one of your primary camping supplies.

Many campers forget to drink water regularly (or "hydrate"), and so, there are many backpacks which now offer water storage, too. These "hydration packs" can be used for day or overnight hiking, and come in a variety of sizes and styles.

If you don't like the idea of carting along a lot of water when you camp, consider carrying water filters or purification tablets instead. That way you can use natural water from lakes, rivers, and streams, and still guarantee it's safe and healthy to drink.

Whatever you do, don't drink directly from any natural water source! There can be bacteria in the water that can make you extremely ill.

What if I don't like sleeping in a tent or RV? Are cabins available at campgrounds?

Cabins and Other Camping Options

Before you pack up the camping gear and hit the road, you have to know where you're going. Luckily, finding a campground near or far is a snap if you use the Internet. You'll find plenty of online directories for local, state, national, and even international campgrounds.

Many directories offer search capabilities that allow to put in various "must-haves" for your campground, and find just the right place for you and your family.

For example, if you want to find a park on a lake that offers wireless Internet access, you can search for those items and see what pops up.

One thing to keep in mind about most of these directories is that they do take paid ads from parks, and may give their advertisers preference over other campgrounds that are just as good.

For a totally unbiased campground directory, search for state and federal directories of city, county, state, and national parks that are government funded. The U.S. Forest Service and National Park Service offer online directories of all the parks they oversee, for example. Often these campgrounds have cheaper fees and are located in some of the most desirable recreation areas.

Why should I consider carrying a GPS as part of my camping gear?

Finding New and Inexpensive Camping Gear

Keeping a set of camping gear ready and waiting is the easiest way to head out to the campground on the spur of the moment. Most people keep a separate "stash" of equipment and camping gear, from pots and pans to cooking utensils, towels and even chairs and tables. It's just easier and keeps your camping equipment organized and all in one place when you need it.

You don't need to spend a fortune to create your own camping gear stash. Garage sales and thrift shops are great places to look for old pots and pans, towels, and even camping clothing and accessories.

Buy the best sleeping bags, tent, and backpacks you can afford, and fill the rest of your stash with eclectic and cheaper gear. That way you'll always be ready to hit the road to your favorite campground!

How do I choose a camp site?

7 Things to Remeber

Select your campsite before dark.

A protective windbreak of trees or bushes in winter. Shade and breeze in summer.

Inspect the ground for level conditions. Grassy areas are ideal. Avoid closs underbrush or swampy areas, which could be a breeding ground for pests.

The spot should have good drainage.

Face the tent opening toward the morning sun.

A quick view of the surrounding is always recommended before setting up. Again, do this before dark. Look for holes, cliffs, poison plants, etc.

Avoid camping in wide, low creekbeds, which are subject to sudden flooding, and can fill in minutes when it rains.

Will the weather have an impact on site selection?

Beware of the Elements

When picking a camping spot, be sure to consider wind, water and sun.

Wind has a way of blowing smoke and ash around and you won't want any of that in your tent or kitchen.

When it rains, will the water run down the hill into your camp? You bet it will.

And consider the sun when choosing your spot. You'll want shade regardless of the temperature and so will your pets if they come along with you.

Should the sun impact where I set my tent?

Morning Sun

Determine where the sun will rise in the morning, so you can either sleep late in shade or get awoken early by its rays.

Are there Ontario campgrounds that provide me with all the outdoor camping equipment I need?

Wilderness in Ontario

If you're longing to visit Canada, camping may be the way to go. Some of the most popular and beautiful locations are situated near Ontario campgrounds, and at least some of these campgrounds are open all year.

Wilderness camping is also extremely popular in Ontario, and several outfitters specialize in leading wilderness tours and creating wilderness camping experiences. Some of these outfitters even provide all the outdoor camping equipment, so all you have to do is get there, and they take care of the rest!

Canoeing, kayaking, fishing, camping, and hiking are just some of the most popular activities in Ontario campgrounds, and there are also several outfitters who fly you in to extremely remote areas, where you may be the only campers for miles and miles. Many of these fly-in services also provide all the outdoor camping equipment, and for those on a budget, a few let you bring your own equipment.


Where to Sleep

To pick the best spot to sleep, keep in mind low areas can be pockets for cold air, while high elevations can expose you to wind. Being out of the wind will make all the difference in the world.

Isn't outdoor camping equipment expensive?

Frugal Camping

Do you think you need half-a-garage full of outdoor camping equipment before you head off to your favorite campground? Well, think again. Many camping "necessities" are really not all that necessary. Pare down your needs, and you can camp on a budget and still enjoy the great outdoors.

First, you don't need a stove. You can cook over a wood fire, or you can bring foods you don't have to cook, like sandwiches, fruit, granola, and such. If you have a roaring campfire, you won't need a lantern either, so scratch that off your list.

No sleeping bag? No worries! In warm climates, try sleeping on a chaise lounge, or bring along some blankets and sheets to create your own bedrolls. That means you don't need a tent either, unless you want more privacy.

The point is, you can invest in a lot of pricey outdoor camping equipment, but you don't have to. You can find a campground close by, hop in the car, and head out, enjoying the beauty of nature on a budget.

What is the one thing I shouldn´t forget to take with me when I camp?

Most Important Camping Tool

The Shovel.

A good camping shovel is a must. This can be a large shovel, ideal for car camping, or a small folding shovel.

If you don't have a shovel, you will have a very difficult time digging a latrine, digging a firepit, burying a fire pit, controlling drainage around your tent and maintaining your hot fire. Don't forget your shovel.

Does it cost anything to enter a national park?

National Park Pass

Your National Park Pass ( provides admission into any National Park requiring an entry fee. Is valid for one full year from first use in a National Park. Will admit you and any accompanying passengers in your vehicle, where a per vehicle fee is required. Will admit spouse, parents, and children at those Parks where a per visitor fee is required. If you are 62 or older or receive disability benefits, you may be eligible for the Golden Age or Golden Access Pass !

A National Parks Pass costs $50. You can make a difference in America's National Parks with your purchase—more than 80% of funds go right back into the National Parks to fund vital projects.

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Guru Spotlight
Carol Sponagle