The Great Outdoors is only as far away as your local library
I did it. I bought a tent. I bought a tent to take my 3-year-old son camping. My wonderful, amazing, intelligent, silly, child was so ecstatic when we set up the tent in the yard to spray it with ScotchGard, he ran in and out squealing with joy. I decided the next day we would camp out. My son’s consternation was evident as he alternated between peeking out the window towards the house and looking back at me with an exasperated countenance, as if trying to say, “Look lady, the house is right there. I want my bed and Mickey Mouse night-light.” But I was resolute, we were going to spend this night in our brand new, freshly waterproofed, tent. We were going to rise with the sun and triumphantly unzip the front door as the morning rays glowed overhead. Our first night camping was going to be glorious! That’s what I thought until, around midnight when I heard a coyote howl followed by neighborhood dogs barking. I made the executive decision that we would have our first camp-out some other time.
After this failed attempt at backyard camping, I realized I needed professional guidance. I came across great resources for just about any type of camping you would want to experience. Best Tent Camping: Florida, 5th Edition by Johnny Molloy has everything you could ever need to know about the campgrounds listed, even reviews of his stays. Molloy outlines 50 campgrounds from the Panhandle to the Keys with information regarding the facilities, fees, number of sites, and even directions and addresses. Camping Made Easy by Michael Rutter is “a manual for beginners with tips for the experienced.” In his book, he details many types of camping gear without endorsing any one brand and different ways to camp such as canoe camping, mountain biking, and camping in trailers. Basic Camping Essentials by Cliff Jacobson is a book for the camper who wants to become as close to nature as possible. Jacobson favors using simple, good quality, gear over camping with too many gadgets. He focuses on effectively using gear you already have. “The Parent’s Guide to Camping with Children” by Roger and Kimberley Woodson gives many reasons camping is a great family activity. With sections on planning and packing, recipes, and choosing gear, this book is a great resource for families with children of all ages. It even has checklists for almost everything you can think of and some things you wouldn’t think of.
The Highlands Hammock, Hickory Hammock Wildlife Management Area, and Kissimmee River Public Use Areas are local camping destinations right here in Highlands County. Resources available at your our local libraries can help you prepare for your wilderness adventure and don’t forget to check out some books for leisure reading. Catch you in the campground!