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Camping Pro? 5 Tips I Bet You Donít Know

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Camping: getting back to nature, hiking in the woods, songs around a campfire---all the simple pleasures. It's easy to be seduced by all the images surrounding an ideal camping trip, but in reality, camping can be lot of hard work. According to a report from the Outdoor Industry Association, nearly 43 million Americans went camping in 2011. Having a few tips to make things easier and less stressful can help ensure your backwoods adventure is a fun, memory-filled experience. Here are some to consider:

Get your campfire blazing

Sure, matches, tinder and bone-dry kindling make a great fire, but it's a rare camping trip where all the elements are in your favor. Forgot matches? A common steel wool pad and a couple of flashlight batteries can help provide a spark. Line up two batteries the way they'd be in a flashlight: positive to negative, with the positive terminal on top. Hold one end of the steel wool to the bottom of the battery and gently stroke the other end against the terminal at the top to create a spark. Hold the spark against your tinder and gently blow to create a flame. No dry tinder? Pack your own--dryer lint is a great substitute. If you have matches, a pile of Doritos is another tinder option.

Start with an easy breakfast

Hiking and other activities are a lot more pleasant when you start with a full stomach. Keep breakfast easy for the cook by using an orange peel. Cut an orange with a thick peel in half. Carefully remove the orange pulp using your fingers or a spoon. Gently press each orange peel to flatten the bottom slightly. Put an egg--whole or scrambled--in one half and muffin batter in the other. Wrap in foil and place over hot coals for about 10 minutes to cook. Other options: fill oranges with cupcake batter for a quick, fun dessert.

Think outside the "box"

Use a tackle or tool box to easily store spices or small containers of spices, as well as skewers and other cooking tools and accessories. Other boxes can be used to store game pieces for board games (ideal for rainy days), toiletries and first aid supplies.

Learn online before you hit the trail

There are loads of websites where you can learn essential camping skills as well as more advanced tips and tricks that will help ensure your trip is more fun, more relaxing and much safer. Some sites address general camping issues while other sites specialize in specific interests. For instance, if you're interested in combining a little hunting with your camping trip, enrolling in an online hunter safety course is a great way to get prepared before you leave. Online education means you can learn when it's convenient for you. While online, look for websites that have information about the area where you plan to camp, including weather, recreational opportunities--even wildlife and game populations.

You'll have a better time if your camping party specializes

Unless you've decided on your responsibilities ahead of time, making meals, cleaning up afterward, gathering firewood and all the other tasks involved in camping can cause tempers to flare and result in a hectic experience rather than a relaxing one. If you're going with a group, consider assigning roles ahead of time to minimize stress.

Lucy Kim Lucy is a mom and avid environmentalist who runs a social media company from her home.

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