Summer Camping in the Deep South
Roughin it and Beating the Summer Heat
There was a time in my life when I actually did go camping in the summer, and looked forward to it every year. Now, my son has started doing the same. I am really thankful he gets to experience the joy of camping, but I am having a hard time remembering why I loved it so much. I think it had to be the people, because the weather was always so miserably hot!
If you plan on going camping anywhere from Louisiana to Georgia in the Summertime, plan on it to be hot. It's not that "dry heat" like you get out west, either. It's humid and hot and sticky and, well, in a word, uncomfortable. But young people and kids and the adults who go with them do camp in it, and for that, I must give them my full jaw dropping awe. If you do plan to send your kid off to camp in the deep south, or you plan to go yourself, there are some things I can help you with to make that experience a little more bearable - to the point that it might actually even be enjoyable!
Just to clarify, "deep south" -that's the southeastern portion of the United States way further down than just "below the Mason-Dixon line" - we're talkin' swamp country and alligators and snakes and everything else that thrives on or around sea level - from the Arkansas Delta country down to East Texas - over to Louisiana, Mississippi, some of the southernmost portions of Tennessee, Alabama, and Georgia. No Blue Ridge mountains can be found in the deep south.
We do have plenty of good stuff to be proud of in the deep south outdoors, but just in case you come down here expectin' somethin' different, I must warn you: it is hot!
Photo: My son on last day of Boy Scout camp in Mississippi, 2013
How to beat the Summer Heat
Water, water, and more water.
Plan on water: you're gonna want to be in it, on it, drinkin' it and sweatin' it all through your camping trip, so get your gear in order around that whole theme. Make sure there is a place to swim in your camping area - that is a must. You're going to want to jump in every afternoon at least, just to cool off. Also if possible try to make sure you have a plenteous supply of ice. While hanging around the campsite, chewing on ice is one of the coolest things to do.
A bandanna packed in ice water then put around your neck before hiking makes a sort of personal air conditioner. This also helps short haired folks keep the sun off the back of their neck. My poor redheaded kid learned this the hard way. Keep the sun off your neck always. Sunscreen helps, but make sure it's water proof and re-apply it often. Also wear a hat to protect your face and the top of your head.
Keep a full water bottle or canteen on your person at all times. Never step away from the campsite without it. Drink from it often. Flavored drinks and sweet iced tea are good, but be sure to drink plenty of plain ole H2o as well.
Wear socks, even long pants when hiking. Yes, it's hot, but light pants can still keep you cool and keep off the bugs and poisonous plants. Some people who work in the heat down here all the time prefer to wear long pants and long sleeves, because it makes them sweat faster, which keeps them cooler longer. If you don't mind wearing wet clothes all day, it's not a bad idea. You're gonna be sweaty anyway, trust me on this. Oh - and go easy on the deodorant. It attracts bugs. So - you're not gonna smell so good. It's camp. Get over it!
Photo: my son enjoying the pool
Helpful & Fun Videos - About Camping in Hot Weather
There are some good tips here - the most important, I think is that when it is very hot, sometimes the best thing to do is take a break. Be sure not to overdo anything in extreme heat. Take a lot of breaks and remember to keep hydrated.
Chill out for a few minutes after putting on sunscreen before getting in the water... who knew?
eat light meals more often, avoid strenuous activity in extreme heat
Boy Scouts know how to cope with the heat. Here is how they do it.
Looks like fun! I want to go!
Water Bottles to keep you Hydrated - and still kinda stylish too!
I handpicked three for you - one that my son loves to use at camp, one for keeping your replenishment super cool, and another that filters your water. Drinking water is a must have for camping in summer heat!
This is the exact bottle my son uses when camping. He loves it because it has a straw built in, and a spillproof top that you bite on to use the straw. It also has a handy clip you can use to attach to something - see it in use in the main photo for this lens.
Not even summer - but it's still hot!
I was a Girl Scout and my son is a Boy Scout. For both organizations, the motto is "be prepared". I cannot stress enough that when camping in the deep south, you need to be prepared for the heat. There are so many wonderful things about nature in the deep south to discover! Make the best of it!
Mosquitoes - and other creatures who love our climate
The main pest down here if you're outside in the summertime is the mosquito. These days, there are some pretty high-tech gizmos that help. Also it has become fairly common to use mosquito netting at night. Lately, we're finding that even the strongest sprays are not necessarily keeping them away, so the trick is to have several bug-fighting tools in your arsenal.
Other common creepy crawlies you might encounter are spiders, crickets, and snakes. Spiders and snakes are afraid of humans, so they aren't necessarily looking to get close to us. Crickets don't bite, but can be loud and annoying. Keep your tent zipped when you aren't in it and don't leave your shoes outside (spiders like dark & damp places - Like the inside toes of shoes). Make a lot of noise before you lay down to bed, shake everything out good, and they'll probably stay away.
Other bothersome creatures: opossum and raccoon, Mississippi black bear, and not particularly bothersome: deer.
Keep any food in your area sealed up tight in a plastic container with a lid. Raccoons have incredible dexterity and can open anything - so the best thing to do is put the food inside something, then inside something else such as a basket or box that can be latched and locked. Or you can hang it from a tree. Our bears are not that big, nor are there that many of them. It's not likely you'll see them in the deep south, but they are out there. Unless you're camping in a primitive area, they're likely to stay away.
Super Mom Tip
Keep mosquitoes away by pinning dryer sheets to your clothing. I have not tried this, but hey, why not give it a whirl? I would think bits of the sheets would be fine!
Source: Super Mom on G+
Fighting Mosquitoes - It's War!
There are many ways to repel, block, or kill mosquitoes. I recommend doing everything you can. Itching is so uncomfortable, especially when it is hot! In addition to these items, I also suggest plenty of bug spray and good ole common sense. They really are worse at dusk. This is the time to use the hard stuff. The rest you can use as an additional deterrent or barrier.
You will probably want one of these for every camper. They keep them off of you in the night, and anytime you need to take a break from the heat.
Treating Mosquito Bites - If you got 'em, you want to get rid of 'em quick!
Better to have these ingredients and remedies on hand when you are camping in the southern heat. You are likely to get bit at least a couple of times no matter what you do. These tips will help relieve your discomfort so you can get back to having a good time!
This is really kinda gross. Don't watch if you're squeamish. Great example of what's actually going on when mosquitoes bite.
No nonsense tips for treating those itchy bites. I had not heard to apply soap directly on the bite. Also, Ice really does help! Don't forget to pack the baking soda!
This is a longer more informative version of how to get rid of mosquito bites. Very informative!
The ultimate reason to avoid mosquitoes. Malaria not a big threat here but West Nile is. Especially for the elderly and very young.
This guy is awesome! He's talking about the tropics where they are even worse than here. Dude knows how to fight 'em!
Even if you haven't - any comments are certainly welcome! Thanks for visiting!