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The Pocket Daring Book for Girls: Things to Do Things to Do
By Andrea Buchanan
HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. Copyright © 2008 Andrea Buchanan
All right reserved.
A quick backyard tent can be made with just a rope, some stakes, and two tarps—big plastic, waterproof sheets essential to camping. First, string a rope between two branches on two different trees. Then stretch one tarp out on the ground and hang the second over the rope. Lastly, stake the four corners of the hanging tarp to the ground, using a hammer or a rock.
Store-bought tents are much larger than ever before, and come with flexible poles that fold into foot-long lengths and stow away in a nylon sack, making tent-pitching relatively simple. They also better protect us from the number one evil scourge of camping: bugs. (The number two evil scourge, should you ask, is poison ivy.) This leads to the prime rule of tents: Keep the zipper shut, because it's nearly impossible to shoo a mosquito out of your tent once it's in.
Before you pitch your tent, you may want to lay down an extra tarp to keep things extra clean and dry. (If you do, tuck the edges under so the tarp is slightly smaller than your tent.)Then set out the tent, and follow directions for inserting the poles. The fly, which protects from rain and dew, goes over the top of the tent and usually clips on, is staked to the ground, or both.
Finally, bang the tent pegs into the ground, lest large gusts of wind send your tentsoaring toward Kansas.
You've just made your home outdoors. Here are the basic furnishings:
The sleeping bag. To make things a bit more comfortable, add a sleeping pad underneath and bring along a pillow or just a pillow case you can stuff with clothes. Sleeping pads have gotten softer, longer, and more elaborate, and can even involve air pumps, which your parents will undoubtedly appreciate if you invite them to sleep out with you. If you don't have a sleeping bag, a jellyroll does the trick. (That's when you roll your sheet and blanket together inside your pillowcase, and sling it over your shoulder for the journey to your tent.)
Flashlight and bug spray. Enough said.
A cooler. Filled with lots of drinking water and camping food staples like fresh apples, dried fruit, trail mix, and beef jerky. Marshmallows are a necessity, too, if a campfire's involved, as are the other ingredients for s'mores: chocolate bars and graham crackers.
The anti-litter mantra for sleeping and camping outdoors is: take it in, take it out. Since there are no garbage cans in the wilderness, bring a bag for your wrappers and other trash.
Once you've learned to pitch a tent and roll out the sleeping bag in your backyard, you can graduate to the full-out camping experience, where the refrigerator and indoor toilet are not close at hand.
Camping is gear-intensive and takes careful planning, especially if you're hiking a few miles out. You must carry in several days' food and water in your backpack, not to mention a camping stove and mess kit, soap and a toothbrush, and so much more. When you're ready for a first experience at a wilderness campground, find a friend whose family are pros, and learn from them.
Whether you are in your backyard or the Rocky Mountains, remember the whole point of sleeping out is to breathe in the night air, listen to nature's songs, and drift off to sleep under the stars.
Excerpted from The Pocket Daring Book for Girls: Things to Do by Andrea Buchanan Copyright © 2008 by Andrea Buchanan. Excerpted by permission.
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