July 9 2019

How to Enjoy Camping without the Struggle: A Beginner’s Guide

Yep, it’s that rustic, fire-crackling, sleeping-bag-nestling, waking-up-with-the-sun time of year again: camping season. 

And for us Coloradans, we’ve got a whole breathtaking state of gorgeous mountain ranges and scenic campsites calling our names. (This is one of our favorite lists of top Colorado camping destinations from Trip Savvy.) 

Camping, as you probably already know, takes a solid game plan and the right gear. For the fledgling Friday campers out there, we crafted a quick guide with health tips and basic camping necessities for your next camping adventure. Enjoy!

Making camp 101

If you’re planning to go camping a few times this summer, it’s well worth it to invest in a proper camping tent. It will keep you warm and safe from bugs, rain, snow, and even hail (yep, it still happens this time of year!). 

A few tips for setting up your tent:

  1. Before you hit the road, practice setting up your tent. There’s nothing worse than finally arriving at your camp site after a long drive and spending a few hours struggling with stakes and poles. 
  2. Find a flat and soft (ish) surface, so you’re not sleeping with a rock digging into your back or a large stick resting under your leg. Not to mention, these rocks can puncture your tent. Take your time and find a good, clear surface. 
  3. Keep it organized. Unpack the tent and divide the parts into specific groups. This will make things much easier as you assemble!
  4. Lay down your ground cloth (the tarp under your tent). Next, stake down your tent (you’ll need to do this so the tent can stand up!).
  5. Attach your tent poles. Be sure to read the directions to see which tent poles connect with each other (figure this out during your practice setup)
  6. Set up the body of your tent and, voila, you’re ready to relax and enjoy the views. 

Watch out for bugs! 

Mosquitoes are possibly the worst, most annoying part of camping. To some extent, it’s an inevitable part of being outdoors: mosquitoes will be there and they will nag you. But you can take precautions to keep them at bay. 

First, invest in a can of bug spray. Secondly, wear long sleeve clothes and pants at night. It gets cold in the mountains, so the longer layers will keep you warm while, additionally, protecting you from the pesky mosquitoes. 

A quick note about ticks

Ticks, while less problematic in Colorado than they are elsewhere in the US, are still prevalent in the mountains and woods this time of year. Many of these ticks are very small (the size of a poppy seed), but they carry viruses and infections that can take a heavy toll on your health. Colorado Tick Fever and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever — two infections that can cause headaches, fever, and malaise — have been reported throughout the state. 

Protect yourself by applying ample bug spray, spraying DEET on your clothes, and doing regular tick checks with your camping buddy. 

Bring a first aid kit

This sounds like worry wart advice, but things happen when you’re out in nature. Cuts, stings, scrapes, burns, blisters, and rolled ankles are relatively common camping woes. Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst with a well-stocked first aid kit. 

Below is a very thorough first aid kit list from the camping aficionados over at REI:

First-Aid Basic Care

  • Antiseptic wipes (BZK-based wipes preferred; alcohol-based OK)
  • Antibacterial ointment (e.g., bacitracin)
  • Compound tincture of benzoin (bandage adhesive)
  • Assorted adhesive bandages
  • Butterfly bandages / adhesive wound-closure strips
  • Gauze pads (various sizes)
  • Nonstick sterile pads
  • Medical adhesive tape (10 yd. roll, min. 1″ width)
  • Blister treatment
  • Ibuprofen / other pain-relief medication
  • Insect sting treatment
  • Antihistamine to treat allergic reactions
  • Splinter (fine-point) tweezers
  • Safety pins
  • First-aid manual or information cards

Wraps, Splints and Wound Coverings

  • Elastic wrap
  • Triangular cravat bandage
  • Finger splint(s)
  • SAM splint(s)
  • Rolled gauze
  • Rolled, stretch-to-conform bandages
  • Hydrogel-based pads
  • First-aid cleansing pads with topical anesthetic
  • Hemostatic (blood-stopping) gauze
  • Liquid bandage

Additional Medications/Treatments 

  • Prescription medications (e.g., antibiotics)
  • Sunburn relief gel or spray
  • Throat lozenges
  • Lubricating eye drops
  • Diarrhea medication
  • Antacid tablets
  • Oral rehydration salts
  • Glucose or other sugar (to treat hypoglycemia)
  • Injectable epinephrine (for severe allergic reactions)
  • Aspirin (primarily for response to a heart attack)

Tools and Supplies

  • Knife (or multi-tool with knife)
  • Paramedic shears (blunt-tip scissors)
  • Safety razor blade (or scalpel w/ #15 or #12 blade)
  • Cotton-tipped swabs
  • Standard oral thermometer
  • Irrigation syringe with 18-gauge catheter
  • Medical / surgical gloves (nitrile preferred; avoid latex)
  • CPR mask
  • Small notepad with waterproof pencil or pen
  • Medical waste bag (plus box for sharp items)
  • Waterproof container to hold supplies and meds
  • Emergency heat-reflecting blanket
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Biodegradable soap

Stay hydrated

You’re at elevation, where you’re less likely to crave water, and you’re in a location where there may be no reliable (or safe) source of water. Be sure to bring more than enough H20 for the whole trip. Big water bottles, camelbacks, and hydration vests are all good options. 

Remember to also replenish those electrolytes

Staying hydrated is key, but focus also on replacing sodium, potassium, magnesium, and calcium. Electrolyte sports drinks and electrolyte powders and tablets will help with this. 

Those simple, bare camping necessities

Before you take off for your weekend camping getaway, be sure to consult your camping checklist below: 

  • Tent
  • Sleeping bags
  • First aid kit
  • Plenty of food and water
  • Camping stove
  • Bug repellent
  • LOTS of layers
  • Sleeping bag
  • Lantern / flashlight
  • Camp chairs
  • Camping pillows
  • Insulated blanket

Friday has you covered in the case of an emergency

If you’re experiencing a life-threatening emergency while camping, then drive to the closest emergency room STAT (Friday covers you at any ER in a true emergency). This will be the most costly option, but if your life is in danger, you must get care immediately.

As always, if you have questions about your plan, benefits, or services, please reach out to our friendly Colorado-based customer service team: Questions@fridayhealthplans.com or 800-475-8466

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