Text and photos by Euden Valdez
This is camping lesson number 1 that Traveling Journo Ph has gained from Random Act of Kindness’ latest hike held at Tarak Ridge in Mariveles, Bataan in February. Imagine our group’s effort in evading two tents standing in the middle of a wide path. Inside are a group of female hikers seemingly unaware of their major boo-boo.
Thus, camping is not just about putting up tents and spending the night inside while in the wilderness.
As a first-time camper, this author shares important tips on camp management as guided by the University of the Philippines’ “Lakay Kalikasan Mountaineer Training Manual.”
Look for the right location
Upon realizing that we just can’t set up camp anywhere, we must now be able to determine the best locations for our campsite. And actually, it must not be located in a flat land but in a gently sloping terrain. Why? Because the slope gives a natural drainage unlike that of a flat land where water is stagnant.
Awareness of the vegetation is also important. It is good to be near bushes or trees because they protect the campsite from strong winds or severe storms. But it is not OK to be directly under trees because there is the danger of falling limbs or branches. Besides this, water will continue to drip down from them trees even long after a downpour. If present, choose a grass-covered land for partial cushion and prevention of water seepage into the tents.
And of course, “To further appreciate the wilderness, a panoramic view of the area could also be taken into consideration,” explains the Lakay manual.
Formation first before pitching
Once the best location campsite has been found don’t immediately pitch the tents. The formation has to be determined too. “Begin by consider the number and arrangement of the tents to be pitched,” says the Lakay manual. “If the space permits, tents should be arranged in a semi-circle. All doors should be seen by each other. This is for safety considerations, to control movement and to have visual eye contact.”
Don’t forget to allot an ample space in the middle for socialization among campers and hikers, as well as to leave a space for entrance and exit of your campsite.
Where is the water source?
In terms of basic needs, water is important in camping. So if available, locate a water source and set your camp near it. Note, however, that it must be within a reasonable distance to prevent contamination.
Sorry to burst your bubble. Never make a bonfire—even if you pictured an ideal campsite with campers gathered around it. Or else end, you many end up causing forest fires. We don’t want that. Just think of the damage Mt. Apo has sustained last year from a tragic fire caused by irresponsible hikers.
So where do you cook the food? In portable, outdoor stoves with butane as source of fire.
About to go on your first camping soon? Don’t rush into getting your own tent. Ask your fellow hikers first if there are enough tents to accommodate everyone in the team already. There’s no harm in sharing. But if it’s really needed, get the basic dome type tent especially if not hiking a high-altitude mountain.
Another advise: Be observant. Because the more you expose yourself in the outdoor, the more you will learn the dos and don’ts—especially when in the right company of people who will guide you along the way.
Finally, camping is all about camaraderie. Use it to know more about your fellow campers and teammates, and just enjoy the company of one another.
is a former dyarista,