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Camping is one of the most popular outdoor recreational activities in America. It is such an iconic pastime that the traditions are often passed down for generations to enjoy, and it is a part of the scouting curriculum with the Boys and Girls Clubs of America. Nearly 50 million Americans currently embrace camping and spend over $3 billion annually on equipment such as backpacks and sleeping bags. 

Contrary to popular belief, camping is more than just sleeping in the woods. The legal definition defines the act of camping as overnight occupancy away from your house by erecting a shelter, sleeping on bedding, parking a motor vehicle, or mooring a vessel. The overnight aspect is what distinguishes camping from other activities such as day trips or hiking. 

Other myths have kept potential campers at bay as well. One of the most common misconceptions is that you will be at the mercy of Mother Nature and unable to have any fun in the event of unexpected weather. Preparation is critical when planning an overnight trip, which includes thermal layers despite summer camping, flashlights, and emergency kits, to name a few. The more planning you do in advance, the better equipped you will be to handle any unexpected situations. 

Another myth is that you cannot build a fire if it’s raining. You can research several guides ahead of time or save pictures to your phone that illustrate all the possibilities. The first step is creating a cover for the fire, either by using a tarp or against a rock face. Dig a hole before adding kindling so that air can travel freely beneath. The general guideline is to find small, dry sticks and not aim for a raging bonfire. Collect more wood than you think you’ll need since the most challenging part of building a fire is maintaining one. Experts recommend stacking your wood in a teepee formation for the most efficient ignition and airflow. 

People who are not used to rustically dining al fresco might believe that dining options are limited and flavorless while camping. The truth is that camping food goes way beyond s’mores. Gourmet campfire cooking is all the rage, with hundreds of published cookbooks and increasingly growing food blogs and podcasts.