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Your UCP: National August 25, 2003
Sports & Leisure

Recreation & Leisure


Camping is an excellent way to appreciate the many benefits of being outdoors. Before beginning a trip it is important that a well-established plan is completed. This fact sheet reviews some of the issues that are important for people with various abilities to consider prior to beginning a campout.

Types of Camping
Camping Tents in Woods by LakeTraditional camping can include backpacking, tent camping, or the use of a recreational vehicle. This fact sheet will concentrate on tent camping, which includes backpacking and cabin tent camping. Backpacking refers to camping away from easy vehicle access, along trails or in the wilderness. In backpacking, the campers must carry all of their gear with them, usually through the use of a backpack, hence the name. This type of camping generally requires the most mobility, as backpackers generally seek more remote areas. In most cases there is no running water and no formal restroom facilities. Participating in this type of camping demands considerable self-reliance and is loved by many for the solitary nature of the activity. Backpackers camp year-round, with snow shoeing and cross-country skiing as common methods of entering backpacking sites during winter months.

Pop-up Camper in Wooded SettingCabin tent camping is better suited for beginners because there are many more options for access to campsites for this type of camping. Camping sites are typically reached by some kind of conveyance: motor vehicle, cart, boat, canoe or kayak. People who enjoy this form of camping often use organized campgrounds. These range from primitive campsites (no running water, pit toilets), through semi-primitive (running water at a central location, pit toilets), to fully facilitied (running water, flush toilets, even showers and stores). Most campsites at these types of campgrounds also provide picnic tables, fire rings, a designated area for locating the tent, and a parking area. Some of these campgrounds also provide a variety of programming including: naturalist tours, structured activities, and educational programs. Other opportunities at these locations may include: picnic areas, docking facilities, food vendors, and rental of additional equipment such as boats, bikes, snowshoes, cross country skis, and fishing equipment.

Considerations When Planning Your Camping Trip

  • Know where you are going. Research and understand the area you are going to visit. Identify areas of interest available and establish a written plan. Confirm any accessible features required to meet your individual needs.
  • If you will be backpacking, determine locations for fresh water, and campsites you will use. Inquire in advance about the availability of specific accessible features you may require and locations from which you can obtain assistance.
  • Safety Plan/Emergency Plan – A well-developed emergency plan should always be in place. Review the group and individual needs regarding health and ability level. Ensure that the challenge of the trip does not exceed the abilities of any members of the group. Identify an itinerary and share it with at least two individuals not going on the trip. Have an emergency plan that all members of the group are comfortable with carrying out. This should include: locations of trail heads, emergency phone numbers, carry a communication device (cell phone, radio), hospital locations, first aid kit, appropriate first aid training (based upon group members and destination).
  • Food - Remember that a well-planned menu can please almost anyone. Create a menu that takes into account personal preferences, allergies, required caloric intake, amount of physical exertion, and weather.
  • Equipment – It is important to develop an extensive list. Develop an equipment list to meet the needs of the group and the destination and the mode of travel (boat, foot, vehicle). Ensure all equipment is in good repair and is working order.
  • Route Planning – Identify the best way to get yourself to each site you plan on visiting. This includes making sure you have all the information you will need, such as your trail map, river map, ocean/lake charts, and road maps. Identify logical locations for breaks along the way: rest areas.
  • Registration and Reservations – Know the rules/laws before you go. Identify in advance all required registration and reservation regulations. Ensure that any passes or special admission requirements are met. This is a crucial step to complete well before the beginning of the trip.
  • Weather Considerations- Be ready for the best and the worst. Always check the weather in advance and pack the appropriate gear. Know your limitations based upon typical weather that could be encountered during the trip (extremes in cold or heat).
For Further Information Where to Camp:

Equipment to Bring/Wear:

(Additional information on camping may be available in the NCPAD database. Try searching using keywords: camp, tent, and parks.)

The information provided here is offered as a service only. The National Center on Physical Activity and Disability, University of Illinois at Chicago, the National Center on Accessibility, and the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago do not formally recommend or endorse the equipment listed. As with any products or services, consumers should investigate and determine on their own which equipment best fits their needs and budget.

Source: NCPAD

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