If you're like me, you've probably started the process of planning your summer camping trips. Many people enjoy one or more annual trips, and if you're like me, you take advantage of any excuse to camp and enjoy the outdoors. Summer is certainly the season for camping trips. Make sure that you plan ahead, finding and reserving sites, acquiring equipment and provisions, and informing loved ones of your plans in the event of an emergency. You may also want to consider your feet when planning your trips. Keep these tips in mind.
1. Check your shoes/boots. Many people keep a pair of hiking boots for their periodic camping trips and outdoor excursions. This is a great idea. Boots designed for hiking have great features to help your feet function within the contexts of outdoor activity. They are durable and can withstand the assault of debris, thorns, rocks, and all the other obstacles found along the trail. They offer ankle support to prevent injuries on unstable or uneven surfaces. And they have lots of arch support to ensure that your feet won't get tired and to help prevent over-use injuries like plantar fasciitis. Since your boots may have been in the bottom of your closet or in the basement all year, you should check them. If they're worn out, they won't be able to offer you the support and protection they are intended to. You should replace old hiking boots to avoid complications.
2. Be careful around campsites. Campsites aren't always the safest place. Fires, tools, and the many ropes and stakes around the campsite mean you will need to pay attention to where you're going and take your time when transporting cooler chests, water jugs, dishwater, trash, firewood, etc. It is usually a good idea to tie bright colored flags or trail tape to your tent/dinner fly ropes to help you remember they are there. Avoiding tripping and other under-foot hazards means avoiding sprained ankles and other traumas. Make sure any knives, saws, hatchets, axes, and other tools are picked up after use and are sheathed appropriately. Teach your children about campsite safety and be consistent with enforcing the rules. This will protect them and teach them how to be safe when you aren't around and in their future.
3. Take breaks. If your feet are tired, let them rest. If your hikes are few and far between, then set reasonable goals for the distance of your hikes. And remember your experience level. If you enjoy the outdoors but aren't the most experienced hiker or navigator, it is safest and smartest to stay on well marked, maintained trails. There are many opportunities within state parks and campgrounds to find this kind of trails. Always carry a small emergency first aid/ survival kit with you on walks. Preparation is the main difference between cases of wilderness survival and tragedy.
4. Practice safe and ethical camping practices at all times. Not only will these protect your feet, but they will protect your whole body, your legal rights, and the environment. remember not to disturb wildlife and to, as the old outdoorsman mantra goes, "leave only footprints and take only photos". Be sure to be courteous to all other campers, hikers, and sportsmen- we all share the same interests and environments. And please learn all the rules pertaining to your campground, state or federal park, lake, river, wildlife preserve, etc. Knowing the rules where you intend to enjoy nature protects the wildlife, plant life and environment as well as allows everyone to enjoy the area.Looking for a way to spice up your camping trip? Maybe you only have a weekend or two days. Maybe you don't want to travel long distances. Ohio has a bounty of state parks. Visit their website for more information, to locate parks near you, and to reserve campsites. You can also try ideas like primitive camping, building your own shelter (please bring and leave with your own materials), biking cross country to a camping destination (which challenges you to pack light and live simply), trying new outdoor activities as well as camping (like hiking, fishing, canoe/kayaking, white water rafting, horseback riding, disc golf- there are countless opportunities), and sleeping under the stars without a tent or shelter. We hope you enjoy your summer outdoors and protect your feet so you enjoy many more years of excursions.