There are a million different ways to enjoy the outdoors. For every person that goes into the outdoors there is a technique that has either been fostered over a lifetime of experiences, or is just the beginning of the journey. There may or may not be times when one is better than the other, as it will be totally dependent on the many different variables. This class is not meant to teach you things that you may already know, but instead talk about things that most of us should think about each time that we go out. Since the level of skill of the person reading this will vary greatly, we will assume that this is something new and hope that for those that it is not they will at least have a different look at it afterwards. To begin, we must look at why we are setting up a camp before we do anything else. If this is a family trip to an established camp ground we will have one set of guidelines, but if this is a back country trip in a somewhat remote and desolate location there will be others. Setting up a proper camp at an established camp ground is fairly straight forward, and most of the issues we are going to talk about here are already addressed by the establishment. Because of that we will skip further talk of this scenario and move on to camping in a desolate location in an area of your choosing, either by choice or by necessity. Let us say that you are traveling along, either by foot or by vehicle, and the time in the day has come for you to stop and get some rest. What should you look for when trying to decide a safe spot that will guarantee a good night's rest? We all have a picture in our mind of the perfect camp spot. A nice level spot for the tent next to the stream and some cover by trees nearby. Why is this a perfect spot? Let's break it down to see why. You will of course want to pitch a tent on a nice flat spot so that you get good night's sleep. If the tent is on a slope you will end up sliding down hill through the night and that will make for an uncomfortable night. Another important factor is looking for rocks, sticks, or roots sticking out of the ground below where your sleep set up is. There are few things worse than a rock poking you in the back while trying to sleep. The next element in our perfect scenario is the stream. This brings us that life giving thing that we all need. Water. Having a source of water nearby is a really important factor that can make life much easier. When the water is near your camp it makes hygiene, cooking, and refilling drinking containers less of a chore, and when you are tired that is a very important thing. The only issue with being close to water is the bugs. Sometimes the mosquitoes will be there in droves, right in your perfect spot. If this is the case, setting up camp just a short distance away will make all of the difference. Always stop and give the bugs a minute to find you before setting up camp. One last thing to think about when it comes to water. Always set up camp well above the high water mark when camping near a stream. Stream levels can rise at seemingly random times for seemingly random reasons. Always take good care in placing yourself out of harms way. The final element in our perfect scenario is the trees. These trees not only provide shade, but they provide fuel for fires and if need be shelter from the weather. Having wood that is easy to harvest for building camp furniture or keeping the fire going is a very good resource indeed. The only down side is the danger of dead wood. Always survey the area to make sure that there are no trees or limbs that are in a precarious position waiting for the first gust of wind to come and take out your camp or cause you harm. The dreaded widow maker has its name for good reason. What are other elements that our perfect scenario are missing? Depending on the time of year and conditions there may or may not be other elements. If you are camping in nice weather with little worry of rain or snow things get quite a bit easier. If the weather becomes an element to contend with there are other issues that must be addressed. When camping in rain it is important for there to be drainage away from your tent and any working areas. Sleeping or living in a puddle is not going to be a good scenario. If this means digging little trenches to bring water away from key places, then that is what must be done. Sometimes simply finding a very gentle slope is enough to get away with. Another issue is the fire pit. If the weather is cool, fire placement is going to be critical. This is especially the case if you do not have a tent or good sleeping bag and are using natural elements for shelter. Generally, the rule here is that you want the fire three feet or one large pace from your shelter. This is only a guideline however, as wind and types of wood can vary this one quite a bit. The caveat here is that sparks from the fire my burn a whole in your tent or catch your natural shelter on fire, neither of which is a good thing.