explore cov-may190_jpg_t285Wow! I'm on the cover page of explore this month. The article is based on a bunch of "how-to" tips like setting up a tarp and weather proofing your tent. I was quite thrilled to be asked to write such a piece. Not only was it fun to put together but It also gives me huge bragging rights during the Easter holidays while visiting my three older sisters; the same sisters that kept informing me throughout high school that listening to John Denver music just isn't cool and that a career in camping is just a silly idea. Well, who's laughing now. I have every John Denver album released... and I'm the cover boy for the largest Canadian outdoor magazine.

One of my favourite segments in the article is "How to Choose a Good Campsite." Knowing how to do this comes with countless nights spent at lousy campsites.

Here's a brief write up on how to locate the perfect site:

Campsite choices are crucial. They're the places that usually stand out as the fondest memories of a trip. They're more than simply punctuation marks in the journey; campsite are special places to reminisce about and where you long to return to. However, they can also be dreaded nightmares; places where bugs ate you alive or nuisance critters kept you away all night.

The perfect scenario is to have a scenic spot nestled in some trees to protect you from high winds, but still enough in the open to snag a breeze to keep the bugs down. It's also best to have the site facing west—southwest to catch the morning sun as well as the last rays of the evening glow. The tent spot is back into the woods to reduce lightning strikes and is slightly higher up in elevation to reduce dampness forming in the tent at night and a thick wet dew covering the tent fly in the morning. Cold air gathers in meadows and travels down water corridors and settles in low lying areas.

Tent sites should also be segregated so every one has their own bit of privacy, and away from the fire pit so some campers can go to bed early and others can sit by the campfire all night singing songs and toasting marshmallows without disturbing others.

There should be no stagnant water close to the site — a perfect breeding ground for mosquitoes. There's no evidence of nuisance bear activity such as fresh scat or rocks and logs being turned over, or better yet fire pits disturbed. The site is clear of tall stand-alone trees that make perfect lightning rods or half-dead trees and branches just waiting to fall and land on your tent. There's a good supply of wood for the evening campfire and a fresh water supply nearby. Tall grass areas attract ticks and chiggers and open rock slabs are great hang-outs for biting red ants.

And best of all, the site is unoccupied when you get there after a long day of searching out the perfect site.