Episode 16: Camping Transcript


Nature Boost Podcast
Season 3, Episode 2


[Intro music.]  

Jill Pritchard:  Hey there, and welcome back to another episode of Nature Boost.  I'm Jill Pritchard with the Missouri Department of Conservation.  

When looking to connect with nature, some would argue camping is the only way to go.  But if you've never been or lack a lot of the gear, planning such a trip could seem overwhelming and pricey.  But luckily MDC's Manager of the Springfield Nature Center, Rudy Martinez, is here with me today to answer some questions and get you feeling prepared for your first trip.  Rudy, thank you so much for joining me today.  

Rudy Martinez:  Pleasure to be here with you.  I'm happy to talk about camping with you.  

Jill Pritchard:  Awesome!  I think it's going to be a really fun and informative episode.  

You know, if you've never done this before, but would enjoy spending a few days camping, it can be hard to know where to start.  

Rudy Martinez:  Yes, indeed.  And, you know, I always recommend for families and individuals that are interested in going camping to think about a couple things before they go as far as number one, like the type of location that they're interested in going.  Uh, because that's also going to help determine some of the gear that you might need.  So in general for tent camping, there's obviously a few things that you may need to take along with you - tent obviously, a sleeping bag, even a sleeping pad.  Again, it also depends on what's available at the type of campgrounds that you're going to.  

For instance, are you going to a state park, for instance, that has facilities?  Versus primitive camping where you pack everything in, and pack everything out.  So that's, you know, two ends of the spectrum that's really going to determine what kind of needs and supplies you're going to have to take with you.  

Jill Pritchard:  Agreed.  And I think that's where making sure you kind of do that research beforehand is very key.  

Rudy Martinez:  Yes, indeed.  And uh, I always recommend to look at a few things.  So number one, the number of people that are going with you.  So that will kind of give you an idea of how much of the supplies that you're going to be needing, because number one, you're taking all your camping gear with you in your truck or vehicle that you're taking.  And so space is also a limiting factor because, you know, I've done it myself.  We just pack everything up when we invite friends, and it's like okay, we need a second vehicle.  We don't have enough space.  So a little pre-planning does help.  It goes a long ways with the amount of supplies that you're taking.  


Jill Pritchard:  Oh, absolutely!  And that can be another thing that before you know it, this whole thing has kind of spiraled into this huge list of things.  

Rudy Martinez:  Yes, yes.  

Jill Pritchard:  A lot of things that you may not think that you need, but you do.  So when getting to just the essentials, again I know you said it does depend on where you plan on going.  But let's go over that, just the basics that you think you would need for your first trip.  

Rudy Martinez:  Sure.  So your first, and I'm going to refer to tent camping, for example.  

Jill Pritchard:  Yes.  

Rudy Martinez:  So some of the basic things that you're going to need is a tent, obviously.  But one large enough to fit your family, if it's a family that's going.  Or you may even consider taking two tents.  For instance, one for the adults and one for the kids if the kids are old enough to be in their own tent.  So you may want to research a little bit about that as far as the types of tents to take, because there's all kinds.  It's like buying a vehicle, even.  

But don't get overwhelmed with that.  You know, so just look for something that's going to fit your needs, your family, or the individuals that are going as far as the size.  And then some sleeping bags.  So depending on when you're going and throughout the year, most sleeping bags are at least a three-season sleeping bag.  So you can get one at a reasonable price.  Along with that, there's a sleeping pad.  And there's several types of sleeping pads out there.  But I do recommend those because it does help, for a good night's rest, it raises the comfort level, you know, from sleeping on bare ground essentially . . .

Jill Pritchard:  Right.  

Rudy Martinez:   . . . you know, so if there are a few stones, which there always is  . . .

Jill Pritchard:  [Laughing.]  They find you.  

Rudy Martinez:  They do find you!  It's like they just grow up right beneath you.  So I highly recommend a sleeping pad.  

And then some other items would be number one, a cooler for some of the food supplies to keep cool that you're going to be taking, and drinks, along with things that you may need if you're planning to have a campfire.  And many campgrounds already have pre-established, designated fire rings.  But you do need fire started, for example.  Are you going to be taking any firewood, or collecting it there?  You know, that sort of thing.  

First aid kit.  I always recommend taking a first aid kit because you just never know what's going to happen.  I mean typically, scratches, minor cuts, it's always nice to have one of those.  And flash lights.  You always need a source of light after dark because the last thing you want to do is get out to a camping area and get all excited to start doing all these activities, and before you know it, it's dusk and you haven't set up your tent yet.  And you're going to need a source of light to do that.  [Laughing.]  


Jill Pritchard:  Has that happened to you?  

Rudy Martinez:  Yes, it happens to all of us.  [Laughing.]  

Jill Pritchard:  And you're just kicking yourself, you know.  You'd think that that would be, you know, a common thing, the one thing that you would need to bring.  But yeah.  

Rudy Martinez:  Yes, indeed.  

Jill Pritchard:  And then I'm sure batteries as well, extra batteries?  

Rudy Martinez:  Yes, extra batteries.  Indeed.  

Jill Pritchard:  So those are the just absolute essentials.  You know, we were talking about this earlier.  A lot of times when people, and I say this mostly for myself, you know, you find a new hobby, and then you feel like you need to spend all of this money on this cool thing for that, and oh, I need a solar powered radio, and all of this crazy stuff.  And the next thing you know, you've spent hundreds of dollars on things that you probably don't really need.  

Rudy Martinez:  Yes.  And you were referring to getting overwhelmed with the amount of supplies that you need.  Everyone's different.  You know, some people have an interest in, you know, getting very specific things and gadgets, if you will, because there's gadgets for everything, as we all know, from electronics to fishing, camping, you name it.  And that's okay, you know, because gadgets can be fun.  But again, you don't always need those.  But keep in mind the space that you're going to need when you pack all this gear up.  Are you going to have room for all these extra gadgets?  And oftentimes, I find ourselves, even when we go camping, we'll pack additional things thinking yeah, we might need that, or we're going to be doing this activity while we're there.  And half the time, we don't ever use those things.  So you learn as you go.  So next time I'll leave this, but maybe bring this.  So it's a learning process.  

And back to those gadgets, same thing.  As you're camping a little bit more and more, you're going to realize, oh, there is a specific camp stove that I want to take along with me as a back up, for instance, because all the wood, the campfire wood that I was picking up, was still wet and damp.  So it'd be nice to have a second source to cook your meals with if needed.  

Jill Pritchard:  Oh, absolutely.  So we had mentioned clothing.  You know, you were talking about certain ways to pack up clothing.  And obviously that does depend on A) what time of the year am I going?  Is it going to be a little cooler at night?  Is it going to be really hot in the dead of summer?  So what are good things to have clothing-wise on hand?  


Rudy Martinez:  So clothing-wise, again it depends on the season.  But typically, you know, some of the best times to go camping, I would recommend May through September.  I include a few more months in there because if you get further into the fall or earlier in spring, you're going to find more campsites available, fewer people out there.  So that's just a whole other opportunity there.  

But if you're camping from May through September, I always recommend check the weather forecast ahead of time.  You know, of course the weather changes all the time.  So depending on the number of days you're going, if you're just going for one night, but essentially that's two days, you need at least two sets of clothes and I might even recommend another set of clothes for the ride home, because it's easy to go through, if you have children with you, to go through those clothes really quickly.  

Jill Pritchard:  He's speaking from experience.  

Rudy Martinez:  Yes.  Speaking from experience.  And even during those warmer months out of the year, one thing you'll find is when you're camping, it may be 80, 85 degrees throughout the day, everyone's in shorts, they may even be swimming and whatnot.  But then as dusk comes around, the temperatures start to drop.  And it may only drop between 5 and 10 degrees.  But your body is going to feel that.  And if you like to hang out, even around a campfire, it's always nice to have a hoodie or an extra layer of clothes to put on, just for those evening hours.  And it makes a huge difference, because you will notice it.  

As well as when you wake up in the morning, which is going to be the coolest time of the day, you'd have those warm clothes to put on, even if it's just for an hour or two until the sun comes up and warms you up.  

Jill Pritchard:  Kind of off topic, but you made me remember this.  Researching camping, you hear a lot of people say, "Oh, it's just so good for your sleep.  It like resets your internal clock."  Are you a believer of that?  

Rudy Martinez:  Definitely!  I am definitely a believer in that.  Of course there's some that don't believe that.  

Jill Pritchard:  Right, right.  

Rudy Martinez:  You know, some just don't sleep well, you know, outdoors.  But I sleep great outside, you know?  And for the longest time, I didn't even sleep on a mat.  As you get older, yeah, you need something like that.  But yeah, just sleeping outdoors, I think it really allows your body to relax a little bit more.  And it's a different environment.  Number one, when you're outside throughout the day, then it comes time to set up, or get into your tent and so forth, you're slowly winding down.  But I think all the pressure and the stress, you know, from the day to day work week kind of just leave you.  I find myself sleeping really hard when I go camping.  


Jill Pritchard:  You're just out.  

Rudy Martinez:  Yeah!  

Jill Pritchard:  Well, and a big thing, too, I think why camping is so popular with a lot of people is it just allows you to unplug.  

Rudy Martinez:  Exactly.  It sure does, you know, because we're so connected with the digital world.  Not to say that you can still find that connectivity when you go camping.  But it's also maybe a good idea to set some rules ahead of time before you get to these campsites to make it a rule, if you will, to unplug, turn your cell phones off, for example, unless it's an emergency, or you know, you need to check the weather, for example, which does happen.  It's a good idea to set some ground rules before you go camping and get away from the digital world, because nature is just so healthy for us.  And you will realize that once you finish your camping weekend.  

One thing we like to do, is after we go out for a camping experience, we just follow up looking at pictures.  You know, we always have a wind down day after camping, putting gear away, we'll just have a relaxing day because it wears you out.  I mean . . .

Jill Pritchard:  Oh, yeah.  

Rudy Martinez:  And now the camping part per se, but you know, the activities that you might be doing while you're outside, and just the elements.  If you're out in the elements for a good 24 hours or longer, you know, we're not used to it necessarily.  So that plays a part in it as well.  But what I was getting to is after we have a weekend of camping, we typically have at least a half a day where we just wind down.  We might watch a movie that Sunday afternoon at home, and just scroll through the pictures.  And while it's so fresh in our minds, kids love doing that and looking at them.  We all just create so many memories and fun times from that, and it always sends me back to my childhood days when the camping I did with my family even.  

Jill Pritchard:  Well, and I love that because you're installing that family tradition as well.  

Rudy Martinez:  Yes.  Um-hmm.  

Jill Pritchard:  And those are the special moments that you look back on for sure.  

Rudy Martinez:  Yes.  

Jill Pritchard:  So, getting back to clothing, a big thing is footwear.  

Rudy Martinez:  Depending on where you're going to be going camping, and for us, we kind of have an idea as far as some of the activities that we're planning when we do go camping.  So, one of the things we typically do is hiking during some part of that weekend when we're camping.  So, we try to always have at least one pair of shoes that we're going to be hiking in.  And if you're anywhere near water, and if you have children, somebody's going to get wet.  It's guaranteed.  

Jill Pritchard:  It's bound to happen, yeah.  


Rudy Martinez:   It's guaranteed.  So, keep that in mind as well.  You're going to have to have an extra set of shoes just for that simple propose.  We always try to have close-toed shoes anytime we go camping, unless we're going to be doing some swimming activities.  You want to have a safe experience and a positive experience for everyone.  Generally, a pair of tennis shoes, you know, for around the campsite.  A pair of hiking shoes.  Kids oftentimes are just used to being in tennis shoes.  So, as long as they have an extra pair of footwear, that's a good idea.  

And socks.  Like I said, along with that you want clean socks, clean socks for whenever you wake up.  I always recommend a good pair of clean socks.  Wool would be the best option, as long as they have an extra set.  

Jill Pritchard:  And I would like to mention, don't -- you go on camping trips, and you're just, you're going to get dirty.  That's just how it is.  Especially your shoes.  12 year old Jill would go camping with her family and want to wear her brand new shoes.  I remember my mom saying, "Jill, you're going to get them dirty.  I really don't want you wearing those –"

"Whatever, Mom.  I'm going to bring them," you know, "I want to show off my new shoes to everyone at the campsite."  

No!  Just don't.  Just, your shoes are going to get muddy.  They're going to get wet.  

Rudy Martinez:  Yes.  

Jill Pritchard:  Especially if you're hiking.  Bring shoes that you know, you don't care if they get dirty.  

Rudy Martinez:  Right.  Not just your shoes.  I mean I have two young boys and they're like little pigs out there.  

Jill Pritchard:  [Laughing.]  

Rudy Martinez:  I mean I KNOW they're going to get dirty, which is okay.  I want them to get dirty and experience nature.  And that's one thing, I give them the opportunity to do is to explore.  I give them the free time.  As we're setting up camp, we do it as a family.  But as soon as we're done setting up camp, I allow them to have some of that free time to go walking around the campground, go by the water's edge.  There's always trails, even just short trails, from the campground to, say if you're by a lake, you know, allow them to explore it a little bit because they're going to find things to do on their own.  If given the opportunity.  Obviously you want to have some guidance there as far as how far that may go, keep them in sight or whatnot.  

Kids just naturally gravitate to that exploration activity.  You know, if given the opportunity.  So, I always try to encourage that.  


And I always try to have some activities in mind ahead of time.  But sometimes, they just get so wrapped up in chasing lizards or catching crawdads, they'll do it for hours!  And we might have to postpone our hiking trip to the next day.  But yeah, I mean the more they start doing it, they're creating their own memories, and they're doing it on their own, without the adults intervention, if you will, as far as structured activities.  So, I try to provide that whenever possible.  

[Ukulele playing in the background.]  

And during that process, they're going to dirty [laughing.]  And that's okay.  That's okay.  

Jill Pritchard:  Again, it's just part of the experience.  You know, it wouldn't be a camping trip without that.  

Rudy Martinez:  Exactly.  

Jill Pritchard:  We're going to take a quick break.  But we'll talk more about camping with Rudy right after this.  

[Crowds screaming.]  

Male:  In the 1960s, the British Invasion brought the Beatles to America.  Today, another beetle invasion threatens our forests.  Emerald ash borer insects are moving into Missouri.  [Beatles melodies playing in background.]  These deadly pests find their ticket to ride by hitchhiking in firewood.  Do not transport firewood when you camp or hunt.  Buy it where you burn it.  Buying firewood locally will keep deadly pests from turning ash trees into a thing of yesterday.  

Log on to mssouriconservation.org.  Search firewood.  

[Birds chirping.]  

Jill Pritchard:  And welcome back to Nature Boost.  I'm Jill Pritchard here with MDC's Rudy Martinez, and we are discussing all things camping to hopefully get you out on your first trip this year.  

So, Rudy, when planning these trips, we were talking about food and obviously meal prepping.  What do you think are good things to bring with you as far as food on these camping trips?  

Rudy Martinez:  That is one of the things you do have to plan ahead, because number one, you don't want to run out of food, especially if you have kids with you.  So that's the last thing you want to run out of.  I always recommend planning ahead, think of three meals a day, and then there's going to be snacking that takes place throughout, you know, with the kids, anyways.  


For breakfast, I always try to keep it simple.  Yogurt and granola, which is quick and easy.  And that way, you can continue with some of the activities that you might be doing that day.  

Jill Pritchard:  Gives you a little protein, too.  

Rudy Martinez:  Yeah, exactly.  You may want to pack some juice if you'd like.  But if you're planning for some longer trips, multiple days, you may end up wanting to have one day of a larger breakfast where you do have a fire, for example, and maybe scramble some eggs.  Keep in mind it just takes more packing and refrigeration in the coolers with ice.  Generally, we try to keep breakfasts pretty simple, especially if we're going to be going hiking.  You know, we just grab a couple of granola bars for breakfast and just move on.  

Lunches can be a couple of different things as well, depending on what you have planned for the day.  And we always try to stay flexible, you know.  So sometimes we may go ahead and pack some sandwiches, for example, if we think that we may be hiking through the middle part of the day.  Other times, you may have time to actually cook something, if you'd like, on a fire.  Or if you have a cook stove, propane powered, that makes it go much faster.  That way, you don't have to start a fire and then put it out when you leave in the middle of the day, everything from grilling burgers and hot dogs if you like to where you could boil water to make some kind of pasta dish.  And we do that quite often, primarily more for our evening meal.  A little bit heavier, gets more carbs in us.  

Jill Pritchard:  Right, right.  Refuel, for sure.  

Rudy Martinez:  Refuel.  Yes, exactly.  

So, for our dinners, typically we try to plan something around a campfire.  And just having that fire there alone just adds to the atmosphere.  

Jill Pritchard:  Oh, absolutely.  You can't go camping without a fire.  

Rudy Martinez:  No, no.  

Jill Pritchard:  It's just one of those things that it just goes together.  

Rudy Martinez:  Yes, but again, back to the food, again it does take some planning because it can add up really quick, even if you're just staying out for 24 hours.  And if you're packing for a family of four, food and drink, I mean you may need two coolers.  And again, you know, how much space do you have in your vehicle?  

Jill Pritchard:  Right, right.  All things that you need to keep in the back of your mind.  Especially you're camping, you know, we talked about this earlier.  Your expending so much energy whenever you're outside.  You're constantly doing something, whether you're chasing your kids around, or you're fishing, or you're hiking.  And so I think it's probably good to note as well that you know, having snacks on hand, too, is important.  


Rudy Martinez:  Yes, it is.  In fact we always bring fruit so the kids can just snack throughout the day.  And we always allow them to pick one of their favorite snacks as well.  That's always a special treat.  They can have their own specific snack for the day.  And we also include a lot of fishing in our camping trips.  So that's also another part of planning for the space in your vehicle.  Do we have enough space for all that extra gear related to fishing?  And occasionally we'll even cook some fish for the evening if we catch some, you know.  So we do a combination of things.  But we always try to stay flexible, too.  As much as we plan our meals, we get home the following day, and we're like whoa, we didn't eat any of this.  

Jill Pritchard:  And like you said earlier, it really is just kind of a process and a learning experience each time you get out there.  

Rudy Martinez:  It is.  It is.  

Jill Pritchard:  So, the more you do it, you learn lessons, and then you can prepare for the next time.  

Rudy Martinez:  Yeah, and the kids love being part of that process as well.  It's everything from the meals to some of the activities in setting you up the tent.  That reminds me.  On tents, if you go out and purchase a tent, make sure that you set it up in your yard, for example, just so you know the ins and outs of it, because not all tents are the same.  

Jill Pritchard:  Oh, that's actually really good advice.  You don't, especially your first time camping, you don't want to go out there with the box, the tent that you haven't even opened.  

Rudy Martinez:  Right.  

Jill Pritchard:  And maybe you're not familiar with how to put up a tent.  So that is really good advice.  So, you know whenever you get out there, you're not just blindly going.  

Rudy Martinez:  Exactly, yes, yes.  In fact, we have our two boys, they set up their own tent.  We set up ours.  And then after that, we ensure that number one, they stake it down because if you set up camp as soon as you arrive, which is a good practice, that gives you time to do other activities.  You don't know necessarily what the weather or the wind might do or change because in Missouri, I mean you wait 20 minutes and the weather changes.  And I'm referring to the wind.  

So, I have seen tents blown up into the trees before.  

Jill Pritchard:  Oh no!  

Rudy Martinez:  Where somebody didn't stake their tent down, you know, while they were gone throughout the day.  Remember to stake it down.  In addition, I always recommend putting your gear, some gear, in your tent just to add a little bit of extra weight.  

Jill Pritchard:  Oh, absolutely.  Yeah, that's very smart.  What a way for your camping trip to be ruined, to come back to your site and not even know where your tent is!  Oh no, oh no.  


So big things, we were discussing this earlier.  Some people just don't know where would be good spots to go for camping.  We were talking primitive areas versus campgrounds, the pros and cons of that.  So, what would you suggest?  

Rudy Martinez:  Yes, so here in Missouri, we have a wealth of places to go as far as camping.  And so for beginning camping, I would recommend places that have facilities available as far as restrooms, and some even showers.  And potable water.  That way you don't necessarily have to bring all of your water with you.  

So places like that would be state parks, for example, some of the national parks.  And in the Ozarks where you have the large reservoirs, like Table Rock, Stockton, Truman Lake, Bull Shoals, there's several Army Corps of Engineer campgrounds.  And many of those campgrounds are very similar to state parks with facilities.  So the campsites there are designated campsites.  They're level, most of them, where you can park a camper, an RV.  But even adds for tents.  Some of their campsites as all these places as well, some of the campsites are a little bit more primitive, if you will, or tent sites.  So you're just going to be setting your tent up on more of a natural substrate.  

So keep in mind if you do set up a tent on a natural substrate, look at the level of the ground for any slope.  Because if you're not real careful with that when you're sleeping, you may end up on - everyone in the tent may end up on one side of the tent by the morning.  And it doesn't take much of a slope for that to happen.  Think of your sleeping bags.  I mean they're pretty slick, you know.  So you're just going to slide in your tent just with a small slope.  

So, keep that in mind.  If you do have a small slope, aim for the top of your body, like your head, to be uphill versus downhill.  


Jill Pritchard:  Just again, little tricks you pick up along the way.  Something good to think about.  And you know, we have a lot of conservation areas throughout this state, too, that have camping areas.  Some do not.  Doing the research beforehand really helps.  

Rudy Martinez:  Yes, exactly.  And depending on your comfort level and the type of camping that you're doing, if you're looking something a little bit more primitive that, for instance, may not have the facilities, restrooms and that sort of thing, you'll have to be a little bit more self-sufficient, if you will.  For instance, Mark Twain National Forest, some of the wilderness areas, in many of the conservation areas, or primitive camping areas, so those are the things that you want to keep in mind.  And many people that are looking for some of those primitive campsites are also usually looking for something a little bit more specific related to those areas.  So, it could be the hiking that draws them to that, or it could be just a natural feature that they're interested in seeing.  But that's just a totally different type of planning, very specific items.  It's very popular here in the Ozarks, and there's a lot of opportunity for it, and a lot of people always willing to find other people to with them.  So that's always an option, too, if someone's interested in that.  

Jill Pritchard:  That's a very good point to bring up.  There are so many resources online as far as camping groups and hiking groups, and people that you can connect with who, like yourself, have been doing this for years.  And you can gain advice from them and pick up some tips as well.  

Rudy Martinez:  Yeah, certainly.  

Jill Pritchard:  Oh, something else I thought of as well, is anytime you're out in nature, wildlife is just a part of the experience.  You see the birds, the squirrels, you're fishing, and I think this is something we've always tried to stress as well, is as far as leaving wildlife wild, especially if you're out camping in bear country down in southern Missouri.  That's something that you need to keep in mind, is that you are out in nature with other wildlife.  

Rudy Martinez:  Um-hmm.  

Jill Pritchard:  So, it's good to be respectful.  


Rudy Martinez:  It is.  I always recommend keeping an area clean and tidy, and leaving it cleaner than what you found it.  So, for instance, when you're having your meals, ensure that everything gets put away afterwards, nothing is left out.  I discourage keeping any food in your tent, even, because if you think of the camping season, wildlife almost get trained on seeing people at these areas.  And many wildlife have their young early in the summer.  And so you have a generation of wildlife, like racoons specifically [animal sounds in background] and possums and skunks, that are used to seeing and hearing people in these natural areas.  And then they soon learn that there's an opportunity there for a food source if your campsite is not tidy.  And as they learn that, they will continue to visit those sites.  So that's why it's very important to make sure your trash is in trash bags, keep it tied up high, out of reach of wildlife.  And overnight, I always encourage if you have a cooler, put it in your vehicle, on the back of your truck, and away from your tent.  And again, no food in your tent.  

Jill Pritchard:  And bringing, especially if you are primitive camping, bringing your own trash bags in.  

Rudy Martinez:  Yes.  

Jill Pritchard:  You're not going to find just a random trash can out there for you.  [Laughing.]  

Rudy Martinez:  Exactly!  Yeah.  

Jill Pritchard:  So, it's important to plan ahead, just to keep nature clean, too.  

Rudy Martinez:  Yes, yes.  We want, we want to leave it better than we found it.  

Jill Pritchard:  Yeah.  And there's nothing like going out and seeing, you know, trash left from people.  It makes you sad.  At least it makes me sad whenever I see that.  

Rudy Martinez:  It does.  And mentioning wildlife, you know, when you go camping, there's always that opportunity to see something new and different, or close up, even, especially in the evening hours.  You know, you may not see them, but they're out there and you can hear them.  Because right at dusk, soon after dusk, anyways, if there's any coyotes within a mile [coyotes howling], you're going to hear them.  They're going to get vocal.  You know, you're going to be in a safe area.  Coyotes are going to stay away from folks.  But you'll hear them at night, which is pretty cool, you know, especially if you're around the campfire.  [Fire crackling.]  You can hear them off in the distance.  

But then once you go into your tents to sleep, you may still hear some small critters.  Again, they're getting trained through the warmer seasons.  So, you may hear some rustling through the leaves [leaves rustling] if there's forest nearby, or brush.  And typically, you'll hear things like racoons, armadillos -- armadillos can sound really loud, almost like it's something large, much larger.  [Leaves rustling louder.]  You know, they're just digging around looking for grubs to eat, and worms.  

Jill Pritchard:  Have you had an armadillo experience?  

Rudy Martinez:  We've seen and heard armadillos come through the campsite.  So, we really enjoy looking for the wildlife, too, at the same time.  So, we've been known to, when we hear something, we kind of whisper from one tent to the other and get our lights ready, and slowly unzip our doors [zipper sounds] to the tent.  And then try to, one time just try to shine our lights just to see what it is.  

Jill Pritchard:  Right, of course.  

Rudy Martinez:   You know, and so we've seen things from, you know, armadillos to racoons and even skunks.  And one time, just this last year, actually, we were camping.  It was myself and there was four boys.  It was my two brothers with their friends.  And it was just at sunrise.  You could just barely see.  I heard something coming up towards the tent.  And it sounded like it was just kind of sniffling at the base of the tent.  So, I slowly rose up so I could peek over.  And up pops this head, which was actually my younger son.  


I thought he was a raccoon!  

Jill Pritchard:  It was just my son!  

Rudy Martinez:  It was just my son.  But yeah.  But we've had, you know, several critters come through our campsites before in the past.  My wife one time had a couple of skunks come under the fly, which is the tarp that kind of goes over your tent to keep it waterproof.  But she had some skunks come under the fly right next to the tent.  They were young ones.  We left them alone.  They left her alone.  


So as long as you leave the wildlife alone, they're going to do their thing and mind their own business.  

Jill Pritchard:  A lot of the times, they're just more afraid of us than we are of them.  

Rudy Martinez:  Exactly.  They really are.  You know, even though they may sound loud like an armadillo or your son!  

Jill Pritchard:  [Laughing.]  

Rudy Martinez:  You know, they will leave you alone.  

Jill Pritchard:  So, Rudy, do you have any other tips that you'd like to share, just any final thoughts on this subject?  

Rudy Martinez:  I mentioned the weather. So, it's always a good idea to know what the weather forecast might be.  But again, you can't always predict it or know exactly what it is.  So just be prepared.  There's been times where we've waited out a thunderstorm [thunderstorm in background] in our tents.  But often times, if your vehicle is nearby, you have a vehicle for additional shelter.  We've always enjoyed, and really I think that's part of the experience, is being immersed in nature.  For instance, when a thunderstorm comes through, just wait it out in your tent to listen for the wind and the rain as it comes down.  

There's one time in particular, we were out camping, and it was a beautiful day in September.  But we could see the clouds in the distance, and we knew there was a chance for thunderstorms.  And so we were checking the weather forecast on our phones.  And we could see the clouds coming in.  I mean it looked beautiful.  We took some pictures.  A couple minutes later, the wind really picked up.  And we were like, let's just get in the tent right now.  And within minutes, the wind was just gusting through [wind blowing] like 30-40 mile an hour winds.  So again, another reason to stake down your tent.  

But it was just fascinating, and just wild to hear and feel this storm come through.  And it was more wind than anything.  And then within minutes, it had passed and the tent just slowly gave way, and it lifted back up after the wind had gone through, just an experience that we all had together and something we'll always remember.  But those are things that us as a family, and anyone that spends time outside, those things will stick with you, and even into your adult lives and something you can continue on with your family.  

[Animal sounds and bumper music.]  

Jill Pritchard:  Absolutely.  Very well said.  

Well, thank you so much for sitting down with me discussing camping.  I really appreciate it, Rudy.  I think you've given our listeners a lot of great information.  And I just appreciate all your help!  

Rudy Martinez:  Well, it was my pleasure, Jill.  Thank you so much.  

Jill Pritchard:  And if you'd like more information on camping, be sure to visit the MDC website.  You can check that out at moconservation.org.  I'm Jill Pritchard with the Missouri Department of Conservation urging you to get your daily dose of the outdoors.  

[End of recording.]