McDowell Nature Preserve
15222 York Road
Charlotte, NC 28278
Ernie McLaney is an avid outdoorsman. He is with the Campground Operations of the McDowell Nature Preserve. Besides camping, he enjoys hiking and kayaking. He has kayaked the McDowell Nature Preserve, Latta Plantation, Morrow Mountain State Park, Congaree National Park in South Carolina, coastal waters and more. He says that camping at McDowell continues to break yearly records, as more people are enjoying this outdoor activity. Even the rainy month of March showed an increase in campers compared to 2012. Some campers are passing through the state on the way to Florida and find McDowell to be a good stop. McLaney offers advice and packing tips for those who choose to make the trip.
Tip 1: Select a campsite carefully and book early. Conduct website research, read blogs and refer to postings by other campers. If possible, plan a preview trip to check out the destination and talk to staff and campers. The best sites are booked by repeat campers.
Tip 2: Try to pitch your tent before leaving for the trip. Test all gear in advance. Practice as a team so that all party members know what to do and when to do it. There’s nothing worse than arriving at the campsite in the dark, with impatient family members, and fumbling with the equipment.
Tip 3: Make lists. Even experienced campers can overlook the important items such as storage bin bags, whistles, flashlights and batteries, cell phones, binoculars, cameras and waterproof garments. A first aid kit should contain bandages, cold packs, spare batteries, extra water purifying tablets, waterproof matches, a camping knife and a compass.
Tip 4: Arrive at the campsite long before dark. Daylight is your friend, especially if new to camping.
Tip 5: Tent placement is important. Pick a high, level spot to pitch the tent in case a storm happens to pass through.
Tip 6: Don’t use basic grocery store water bottles. Buy a quality, reusable water bottle, and fill it from the larger jug. Pack healthy food and energy snacks. Keep menus simple.
Tip 7: Share the camping experience with a child. Get them outside so they can understand and develop a respect for the natural environment. Support the region’s green space, nature preserves, parks and campgrounds. These outdoor jewels are important to the quality of life for all.
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Jesse Brown’s Outdoors
4732 Sharon Road
Charlotte, NC 28210
Bill Bartee is president of Jesse Brown’s Outdoors located at Sharon Corners near South Park. He enjoys camping, hiking, fly fishing and traveling. These days, a lot of his outdoor adventures center around his young family at places like the Great Smoky Mountain National Park and the Wilson Creek area of the Grandfather District of the Pisgah National Forest. See what he has to say about preparing for your camping trip.
Tip 1: Bring comfortable footwear. Whether it’s an active trip or not, shoes or hiking boots that provide support and protection are important.
Tip 2: Bring plenty of water. Find out if there is water at the camping site and bring a water filter or a purifying system.
Tip 3: Buy protective travel apparel, such as those with bug or sun treatments. Insect-protective clothing will guard against ticks, bees, etc. The North Face and Patagonia are two good brands.
Tip 4: Bring a natural or chemical-oriented bug spray.
Tip 5: Bring biodegradable soap that is friendly to the environment. It can be used on cleaning utensils, for brushing teeth, as body wash and on hair.
Tip 6: In the case of primitive tent camping, restrooms may not be available nearby. Bring a backpack trowel/shovel to help keep bathroom areas clean.
Tip 7: Bring wipes for overall body cleaning and other purposes. Washing your hands is good sanitation and will keep you healthy. This is an important one.
Tip 8: Bring ziplock plastic bags and larger trash bags for cleaning up the campsite.
Both McLaney and Bartee stress the importance of cleaning the campsite before departure. Pick up all trash and debris around the campsite and dispose of it properly. The goal is to leave the site better than it was found. When leaving, tell the campground attendant that the site is available. Is is a courtesy to campers coming in behind you.
Catherine Lash engagingly connects with people. She has learned that interested listening and thoughtful questioning are the means through which collaboration creates a story. She grew up traveling the world and learning military life in an Air Force family of seven. She currently lives in Charlotte, North Carolina with her husband and three kids. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.