The Road Less Traveled: Tips for Camping in the Fall
Camping with a group of scouts tends to call to mind images of summertime in our minds: deep green woods, warm nights by the campfire, and days fishing by the lake.
However, the woods also conjures images of the colorful woods of a Robert Frost poem: a kaleidoscope of reds, yellows, and oranges beneath a crisp, cool sky. Even though, like a Frost poem, taking a group of young people into the woods in the fall can be “the road less traveled,” it will give your students a beautiful and unique experience, so long as you follow these tips for camping in the fall.
Focus On Timing
A hike in September looks much different than a hike in November. So, depending on the experience you want your group to have, you will want to be strategic about when you go. Here are a few things to keep in mind when choosing when to plan your trip:
- Temperature: Naturally, it’s warmer earlier in the season, which is ideal for beginner campers.
- Peak fall colors: some regions, like Michigan, have the most vibrant fall foliage in late September. Others, like New England, see peak colors in late October.
- Animal life: As some animals migrate and others hibernate, different months are preferable for seeing different species.
Have the Right Gear
Preparedness is always key to camping, but cooler conditions raise the stakes. For example, during the summer, you can get away with camping without a tent. However, in the fall, you should not only have a tent but consider warmer options, like hard-shell tents. Here are a few other gear essentials to pack:
- Cold weather sleeping bags and sleeping pads
- Warm clothing with an emphasis on layers
- Weatherproof shoes and extra socks
- Warm beverages
- Rain covers
- Waterproof containers for food
Just because the weather is cooler doesn’t mean you should neglect to bring sunscreen and bug spray as well. Also, bring extra water since the air is drier.
Enjoy the Fall Activities
Most of your group will probably have some experience with camping in the summer. To make the experience truly memorable, try to find ways to embrace the autumnal nature of your trip with fall-themed activities, such as:
- Taking a hike then pressing fall-colored leaves you find on the way
- Looking for animal tracks of fall weather animals
- Watching migrating birds
- Make fall-themed camp foods, like stuffed pumpkin and warm apple cider
- Go apple picking
Camping in the fall isn’t the obvious choice for a student group, but it has plenty to offer. The fact that the choice is so unique may make all the difference for the young people you bring with you.