Tips for First Time Campers

Regardless of whether you are 18 or have touched your 30s, you plan your first camp at some point in time. Then may it be lakeside camping – like at the shores of the acclaimed Pawna dam – or on a mountaintop, the first time campers are anxious if they have packed enough, whether they would be safe, whether they would get any privacy, and the list continues.

From my own experiences and by gathering few other intuitive points, I have compiled a list of tips – that basically are your first time camping dos and don'ts – that would ease your packing and keep yourself prepared for any situation.

PACK AMPLE OF FOOD AND WATER

If you ever camp with me and my bunch of friends, you would always notice that the supply of food and water (food especially) is plentiful. My friend Anurag perpetually stresses on the point that we must stock ample of food and water. At times it has happened that we take back/giveaway the leftover food while returning home.
The point here is straightforward. When you camp, you're on your own in nature. You don't see traces of food stores or fruits hanging on a nearby tree. Principally, when you plan to set a camp, you also invite uncertainties – whether you like it or not. The fact is questionable: would you go back home or would you stay here for another night (due to some erratic reason) – you never know. Ample of food and water supply ensures you're stocked with energy in any given situation.

KEEP A BUTCHER'S KNIFE AT HAND

Not just while camping, but invariably, whenever you go in the wild, keep a butcher's knife at hand. First time campers, though anxious, would not consider this safety point. Howsoever, a knife would be used for manifold activities: to chop wood for the campfire, to cut unsolicited twigs, to slice apples or other types of fruits, or to prepare against evildoers and wild animals.
This point takes me back to my school days when every Wednesday we had a Scout & Guide period, in which we were asked to make books and write a bold 'Be Prepared' as our Scout & Guide motto. Quoting the words of Late Lieutenant-General Robert Baden-Powell, the founder of the worldwide scouting movement,
"Be Prepared... the meaning of the motto is that a scout must prepare himself by previous thinking out and practicing how to act on any accident or emergency so that he is never taken by surprise."

SPEAK WITH THE LOCALS

If you know the local language then nothing like it. Speak with the natives and enquire about the campsite and the area encircling it. Get information regarding wild animals – ask if your campsite is an abode to any wild animal (leopards, majorly in the mountainous regions of Maharashtra) and if they have ever spotted one. Arrange for your meals. Usually, you might come through villagers from the base village that provide food to the campers and trekkers. Look out for these villagers and arrange for your lunch, dinner, breakfast, safety (if it's your concern), water, and wooden logs for setting up the campfire. They might also help you with the fuel to ignite the fire. Before pegging the tents, ask them if you need a police permission to set a camp.
On my birthday camping trip to the Kelwa beach earlier this year, we had attempted on taking the local police's permission, which unfortunately it was denied. We had to hire one room, outside of which, we built our make-shift campsite! Additionally, saving your food provider's contacts is a wise thing to do as he is your only best friend apart from the bunch of people you're camping with.

THING TO KEEP IN MIND...

The moment you plan a camping excursion, you need to set your elitist rules aside. You're about to enter the wild so there would be an inclusion of zero five-star amenities. You have to pee in the open, probably behind a bush, stay inside a tent – with or without a mattress – and have to be prepared to face danger. I have no interest in scaring you, but these are certain risks that come along. This reminds me of...
"The best view comes after the hardest climb."
However, I would be more excited to share about the blisses of camping, but I would save it for some other day. Meanwhile, you can read my travelogues on camping and get a faint idea about how it really is. If you're reading this, I believe you're in the saddle for your first camping trip. Good luck, and I promise you it would be worth the risk.
If you're stuck as to what to pack, here's an extensive list to help you out.