Camping in Chenango County

Eric Davis

Mayhood's Sporting Goods

CHENANGO COUNTY Ė With Memorial Day having just passed, many of us will be packing up our gear to go camping over the next several months.

Most parks are open from Memorial Day weekend through Columbus Day weekend. There are many different ways to camp, but to me the only real way to camp is in a tent. While campers and RVs have their place, especially for the aging who canít sleep on the ground anymore, I prefer to immerse myself in the full camping experience to connect with nature.

To me campers and RVs are just mini houses on wheels, where it is too easy to fall into what is very close to the everyday routine. Camping in a tent can be very enjoyable and rewarding with the right gear and proper preparation. There are so many places to camp as well. Each place offers itís own experience.

When planning out what to bring for a camping trip it can be easy to overpack and become overwhelmed. I prefer to bring only the essentials. I can fit all my gear in my backpacking pack and be ready to go pretty quick. Of course having backpacking gear isnít necessary for a basic camping trip, but I like things primitive most of the time and the gear works just the same if I choose to go to a park with amenities. Bringing the essentials makes packing, set up, and unpacking easier, leaving more time to enjoy the trip.

For tenting I bring a tent with a ground cloth or tarp. The ground cloth provides extra protection to prevent water from getting in the bottom of the tent, especially in the event of rain. One of the keys to this though is to make sure that the tent completely covers the ground cloth. You do not want the edges of the ground cloth to stick out from the sides of the tent, otherwise water will pool between the ground cloth and your tent.

Make sure that you do not put your tent in a low spot either where water will pool in the event of rain. Of course you will want a pillow and sleeping bag. A sleeping bag with a temperature rating proper for the current weather conditions is ideal. Most sleeping bags will have this rating on them. If you are going in the spring or fall donít forget that nights could be a lot colder. I also like to bring a self inflating sleeping pad. You wonít feel every rock and root that way if you canít find the perfect grassy spot.

For cooking I either bring my pocket rocket or a 2 burner camping stove. There are several mess kits available. I have one where the serving ware and utensils fit right inside the pot. A couple of pots and pans from home and some durable dining ware work well though too. The cooking supplies you bring will partially depend on what types of meals you plan to cook. Maybe youíll even skip the stove and cook over the campfire.

A cooler in many cases is needed unless you plan to cook dehydrated meals. For dish washing I bring a tote and camp suds Ė a highly concentrated biodegradable soap. A little goes a long way though with this soap. If you use too much and donít rinse your dishes well you might be spending more time at the latrine then planned.

Of course donít forget lighting, personal care products, extra clothing, rain gear, a first aid kit, fire starter, bug spray, water bottle, and water Ė if itís not an amenity offered. For a campfire make sure you purchase firewood within 50 miles of where you plan to camp. When you purchase firewood there should be a slip with it to prove where it was purchased from. This regulation is in place to help prevent the spread of invasive pests and diseases that harm trees.

While camping, donít forget to take precautions to prevent unwanted interactions with wildlife. Dirty dishes, garbage, and food that is left out is like an invitation to skunks, raccoons, bears, and other wildlife. In areas where bears are an issue there are often extra precautions and regulations to follow. Make sure you stop at the park office to find out if this is the case. Donít forget that it is not cute to feed the wildlife. When animals learn to associate food with people, they become a problem. Letís help these animals maintain their dignity and stay wild.

There are so many different places to camp in New York State. Some local State Campgrounds include Bowman Lake, Chenango Valley, Oquaga Creek, Chittenango Falls, and Gilbert Lake.

Cook Park is another park with camping sites run by Chenango County. Most sites have a picnic table and fire ring with bathrooms and running water nearby. Many also have electric, sewer hook-ups and platforms. Some campgrounds have cabins available for rent as well.

Of course if you want to go primitive check out some DEC camping sites Ė permits are required in some cases Ė or head out to state land, check regulations on this as well.

So I hope everyone got out and pitched a tent for Memorial Day weekend. Happy camping and stay safe.

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