1. TENT-CAMPING, IN SOME WAYS‚ CAN BE A LITTLE MORE DIFFICULT, because you've got to find a place to pitch your tent. Car-camping is pretty simple, because all you have to do is find a place big enough to park your car. Although in a tent you may have more room, you'll have to carry more equipment, because you will be sleeping out on the ground & walking on the ground & living on the ground, & therefore you had better be sure you pick a spot of ground that is not so low & flat that when it rains, it accumulates water, & you find out your tent is pitched in the middle of a lake or a puddle, & you're sleeping in three or four inches of water!
2. YOU ALWAYS HAVE THIS WATER HAZARD WHEN CAMPING IN A TENT, unless you have one of those cute little trailer-tents that unfold, & you have the floor of your trailer & the unfolding sides & top to put the beds on, & floor space to walk on, so your dear little pinkies never have to touch the dirty wet ground! Otherwise, if you have an ordinary tent that you have to pitch right on the ground, be sure you find a spot that is high & dry & with good drainage!—If it doesn't have good drainage & you're at the receiving end of a watershed, like the bottom of a hill‚ your campsite is going to become not a mere lake but a river when it rains! If so, it's a very good idea to dig a ditch around the campsite about a foot wide & six inches deep, on the sides from which the water is apt to shed down the hill toward your tent. This, then, acts as a drainage ditch around your tent, & diverts the water from draining right into your tent. No matter how good a waterproof floor you may have in your tent, there is no waterproof floor on Earth that is good enough to keep that river of water out & from soaking that floor & the sides of the tent above the floor!
3. IF THERE IS NO TOILET‚ DIG YOUR OWN! And for that you'll need this!—a small shovel that also triples as a hammer & saw! Dig your hole away from your camp in woods or bushes to screen from view—about 1 ft. wide (30 cm.) & 2 ft. (60 cm) deep, & either squat or put a holed stool over it! Then, after each person uses it, you have to sprinkle a little dirt over it to cover it up‚ or you can have a sack of lime along, which is even better‚ & that helps to both kill the odor & stop the bugs, the maggots & the flies. Otherwise, your hole will soon become a boiling pot of maggots! This is caused by the flies, which crawl on the dung & lay eggs that hatch out innumerable more flies, & pretty soon your whole camp is full of flies that came out of your own toilet hole!—Crawling first on your dung, then you & your food! So‚ therefore, it is very wise to cover it up with dirt‚ or preferably with a little lime. Carry a sack of lime along with a little ladle, paddle or big spoon‚ or toy shovel, & take the ladle full of lime & sprinkle it over your BM when you're done, so that it kills the odor & covers it up & protects it & you from the flies. Otherwise, the flies will crawl around on the dung & hatch more flies & then come crawl around on your food while you are eating or cooking! And you'll have a bad cycle of contamination which can give you typhus‚ cholera, tuberculosis & whatnot!
4. IT'S VERY ADVISABLE, OF COURSE, TO HAVE A TENT WITH A WATERPROOF FLOOR attached to the walls of the tent. Although even the walls of the tent can get so wet when it rains that the water soaks through & drips inside the tent!—Then if you have a waterproof floor, it won't even drain out!—It will just stay on the floor! So‚ it's good to have a high, dry, slightly sloping camp-spot for your tent, that's well drained & won't accumulate water or be a river or a lake when it rains! But that's one trick you can use, to dig a trench around it to protect you from the water, if it does seem to be a bad spot.
5. THERE ARE ALL KINDS OF TENTS, almost as many varieties of tents as there are trailers & houses & people! So, you just have to make your own choice. But one of the simplest & easiest to use & pitch is the umbrella or "sheik" tent, which we had when I was a kid. Its ribs open up like an umbrella, so you only needed one pole in the middle‚ no top ropes, only bottom stakes. You stake down the outer edges of walls & floor to keep it upright. It shed water very well, & had room enough, when I was a kid, to sleep four/six people. It had a floor about eight feet by eight feet at the bottom, & the larger one we had was about ten by ten. You can even get them 12 feet by 12 feet & larger today! Ours had plenty of room for our whole family's six cots.
6. IF YOU'RE TENT-CAMPING, BY ALL MEANS HAVE COTS‚ IF YOU CAN, & NOT JUST AIR MATTRESSES! The air mattresses, of course, are not as heavy & they don't take up as much room when deflated. But they also are a lot of trouble to inflate‚ so you'd better have plenty of hot air to inflate them with, or get one of those foot pumps or some kind of a tire pump to inflate them. That was one of my main jobs, blowing up the air mattress at night, so it was a good thing I'm full of hot air!
7. BUT SAFEST & BEST IS A COT! I never liked sleeping right on the ground, even on an air mattress, with the thought of bugs & snakes & rats & other varmints crawling over me or accidentally stumbling over me or running over me in the dark at night! I always preferred a nice cot, up & off the ground, hi 'n' dry!
8. WHEN I WAS A KID WE HAD THOSE OLD WOOD & CANVAS ARMY COTS, & we each slept on one. We two small kids, me & my sister, slept on one together, feet to feet.—It was lots of fun! Cots keep you off the wet‚ cold ground & out of the water & the bugs & the snakes & the rats & the mice & the varmints & whatever else might happen to stumble over you in the dark!—Or come into your tent accidentally on purpose looking for something to eat!—Maybe you! So I always preferred a cot of some kind.
9. YOU CAN GET THESE VERY CHEAP, LIGHTWEIGHT METAL COTS NOW that fold up in a very small space, & when they are folded up, they don't take much more room than an inflatable air mattress, & they keep you up off the ground‚ & are much more comfortable than an air mattress. I always had trouble staying on an air mattress. They always seemed to have a habit of rolling out from underneath you. Everytime you roll over, they pop out from under you, or you roll off onto the ground! I was heavy enough that I hit the hard ground anyhow through the mattress, & it was always cold or wet & didn't seem to give too much protection.
10.—BUT AN AIR MATTRESS IS BETTER THAN NOTHING!—That's about all I can say for'm! Maria says they've got a better kind now, a sort of canvas-covered air mattress, & they are very heavy duty. But I'll tell you, you fold up one of those things & it will be just as heavy & bulky & take up as much space or more than a lightweight‚ metal cot! We have one here that folds up into almost nothing! I'd lots sooner be up off of the ground with air circulating underneath me, especially if it is hot—or wet!
11. AIR MATTRESSES CAN BE AWFULLY HOT! There's no circulation, no ventilation! They're like sleeping on a rubber mat or plastic sheet, & very hot & sticky!—And usually, most campers do camp in the Summertime when it is hot! So the best thing to have is cots! If you are going to sleep in a tent, have some of these little tiny thin light-weight metal cots that keep you at least just off the ground & dry & warm, & out of the bugs & snakes & varmints!
12. AND FOR TENT-CAMPING, OF COURSE, ALL OF YOUR COOKING & EATING EQUIPMENT IS VIRTUALLY THE SAME AS FOR CAR-CAMPING—or even trailer-camping!—Everything from your little camp stove to cooking & eating utensils.—And you can now have one of these suitcase-size kitchens, with its own sink, drainboard, cupboards & everything‚ that unfolds from the size of a suitcase to give you a place to put your camp stove & all. It'll come in very handy if you can't find a picnic table or have your own folding table & chairs.
13. —AND WHAT DO YOU DO WHEN YOU CAN'T FIND A PICNIC TABLE & don't have a folding table or suitcase kitchen?—Well, we tried to usually find something‚ either a wall or a box or some rocks or somewhere we could cook. We often set our little camp stove right on the ground on some rocks, if we had to, but it's not very convenient & comfortable to try to cook squatting on the ground. Of course, if the camp or picnic ground had these open campfire grills, you can set your own camp stove right on the grill instead of building a fire. But of course, a picnic table is usually preferable, or your own folding kitchen &/or table.
14. OF COURSE, IT'S EASIER, INSTEAD OF BUILDING A FIRE, TO USE A CAMP STOVE on a fireplace grill. But a picnic table is far preferable. Therefore, if you want to buy one of these fold-up picnic tables that contains four to six chairs folded up inside of it, that's a very handy thing to have, in case you can't find a public picnic table.—And let me tell you, in Summertime‚ with all the other campers out, sometimes it's pretty hard to find a picnic table that is not already occupied!
15. THERE ARE MANY CAMPGROUNDS, AS IN EUROPE, THAT DON'T EVEN HAVE PICNIC TABLES at all, & wouldn't even waste space for them! Space is too valuable to pitch tents in! But I will say that for the United States, it's got a lot of campgrounds & a lot of picnic grounds & a lot of picnic tables & a lot of them covered, & with grills & fireplaces, water, toilets & even gas stoves!
16. YOU SHOULD KNOW YOUR OWN SITUATION & what your area has to offer before you buy any of these things—what your particular family needs may be, & how much room you have to carry'm in, & how much you can afford to pay for'm‚ & how much you are going to use'm & how much you are going to travel & how much you are going to camp out—that all bears on what you get.
17. I'D SAY IT DEPENDS ON YOU, & the size of your family, & how much camping you are going to do, & whether you are just a part-time camper or full-time camper‚ whether you are a weekend camper or just a Summer camper, or you are going to be camping out year-around—that will determine pretty much what kind of camping you do, & what form of camping equipment you buy. (Trailer Travel Next!)