# 1 Find a cool place
Choose an area where you can come and go without a trace. Most Forest Service areas have designated camp sites. Buy a map at the Ranger Station or your local gear store to find them. If there are designated points, use them, they have been chosen to concentrate the environmental impact. If you are camping in a wilderness area, choose a place that is bare of vegetation, of the trail site, and at least 100 feet from a water source.
# 2. Safety First
This summer, my family was going to camp along the Saco River in New Hampshire. The night before, the river swelled and flooded the camp. The people had to leave their camps in the middle of the night, many of whom left without even camping. We arrived the next day and found a lot of wet, unhappy campers. The lesson: Get ready for the worst. It is unlikely that a river will flood, but could, so the camp in the high land instead of the river bank. Similarly, do not camp under dead trees that could fall at any time, and if you are on the beach, check the tide table to see how far the tide will come at night.
# 3. Search Level Ground
This is the hardest thing to reconcile with a tent. There is nothing worse than spending all night rolling out of your sleeping pad because the floor is too tilted. Look for the flattest area, and fill any low with clothing and empty bags.
# 4. Stay close to the water (but not too close)
I love falling asleep with the white noise of a babbling creek. It can also cover other camp sounds, such as the noise generator of your neighbor. I always recommend jumping in cold water before going to bed on a hot night; It helps your body to restart after a day of hiking. Just be sure to stay at least 100 feet away from a water source, and always wash your dishes away from a creek. Seriously, a Forest Service Ranger can fine for camping too close to the water.
# 5. Focus on fun
Try to avoid driving to an activity the next morning. Instead, find a campsite close enough so you can eat a casual breakfast, throw your hiking boots, and head towards a waterfall or summit.
# 6. Make it homey
Too many people try to be minimalists when they camp and just do not have as much fun as they could. When my family camps, we have a contest to see how comfortable it can be. Bring camping chairs around the fire, a tablecloth for the picnic table and colorful lights to a chain around the camp. One of my favorite tips: Bring a mat to put in the store door and a large camping blanket to put on the inside of the store. Take your shoes to the carpet; When you enter, the rug acts as a wall-to-wall carpet.