I spend my summers tenting: come tour my campground in a sanctuary

Guest post by Chelsea Willis

Inside the tent
When Spring rolls around, some folks clean; I organize camping gear. The annual checklist includes: a battery check, first aid inventory, salty snacks, baby wipes, eco-friendly toiletries, and tarp and line.

From April through September, I set up camp in Artemas, Pennsylvania at Four Quarters Interfaith Sanctuary. My annual membership includes camping and activities and since there is staff onsite year-round I don’t have to worry about my things being disturbed while I’m away. The sanctuary is bordered on three sides by Sideling Creek, there are trails to hike, and a circle of creekstanding stones in the center for meditation, yoga, or quiet contemplation. On the hilltop, there is an open field where one can stand at night and clearly see the milky way shining brightly. It is truly my home away from home.

Setting up a seasonal camp makes life easier. It’s so nice: I drive a couple of hours, then relax. I only show up with clothes and a cooler. I keep snacks in glass locking jars as well as bedding and additional clothing in rubbermaid bins onsite — this keeps out critters and moisture. The tent and screen house are firmly staked to the ground with tarps hanging above for additional protection from the elements. I stay pretty worry-free.

screen house view

The basics of tenting

  • Inclement weather does happen when you’re camping, so being prepared is important. I keep a rubbermaid tub of extra blankets, sweatshirts and rain ponchos — the local thrift store is a great place to snag some warm blankets or extra clothing. Even in July, it can dip into the 40s at night.
  • I forgo the river shoes and don Crocs when heeding the call of the Sideling Creek on a hot afternoon.
  • After a dip in the river or washing evening dishes, it is good to have a line to dry wet clothes or towels. Tying tent line between trees works well if the ground is level.

drying rack
camp fire

  • On the days that it rains, I use a propane stove for cooking. Otherwise the copper bowl fire pit works well.
  • Cast iron cookware can be used on either the stove or in the fire pit.
  • When cooking for camping, it is best to pre-plan meals. Doing prep work before leaving the house for the woods can make for tasty and nutritious meals. Chopping your vegetables or meats and freezing them will help to retain the cold within the cooler longer especially in hot weather.

Camp Kitchen

  • Always have plenty of fresh water on hand for drinking and washing of dishes and persons — a stash of baby wipes are a great way for a quick freshen up as well.

Whether you are camping for a month, a week or just a weekend; remember NO MOOPmatter out of place. Because we share the earth with all creatures; if you packed it in then pack it out!

Comments on I spend my summers tenting: come tour my campground in a sanctuary

  1. Interesting! I don’t think there are any places like that in my area–lots of public land, but nowhere you can leave your stuff without worry and/or violating regulations.

    I’m curious, how close are your nearest neighbors in the sanctuary? Are they within sight/hearing distance? Do you ever have issues with competing values and experiences? Like, say you are having a quiet evening and your neighbors want to be loud and stay up into the night…

    • It is open camping so there are only a few designated platform spaces such as mine because it is on the side of a hill. People tend to space themselves out and respect others. There is the occasional time when someone will be talking loudly late at night or deciding that 6 am in the morning is a good time to chop firewood but having a polite word with them almost all the time will resolve the issue.

  2. This makes me wish I could afford to go to the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival in August again…I’ve only been once, but I can’t wait to go back. Such an experience, and camping was so much fun!

  3. this is awesome! anyone know of campground in new england that let you do seasonal tent campsite rentals? i looked online but the only seasonal rentals i could find were for RVs.

  4. Not the same, I know, but similar in some ways… My man and I have a 1985 VW Westfalia named Ziggy. Every chance we get (ie. two or more days in a row off work) between about May and September, we jump in the van, and head out to the mountains to see what we can see. We always wind up in a new and different place, and just LOVE to explore every nook & cranny of the beautiful Canadian Rockies!

  5. I LOVED platform camping all summer long as a scout. I worked at boy scout camp for 8 years and our staff tent city was the sight of a lot of my growing up and some of the most fun I’ve ever had. Thanks for reminding me that grown-ups can do this too! I love the idea of leaving camp set up and then going to visit. I am going to google things like this in my area NOW! Thanks!

  6. That is the coolest thing!! I used to do something similar when I was younger and worked at an outdoor activity centre. Weather here in Ireland doesn’t really support leaving one’s gear unattended, sadly.

  7. This looks awesome! I’m pretty sure my husband would be in to this. I live in Michigan, and I’m pretty sure something like this exists, and if not, many campsites are about $10/night around here, so camping on the fly is definitely do-able. We like to check all our camping gear around April, and go camping as soon as we have time off of our grad school classes.

  8. Oh, this seems so lovely! I’ve heard great things about 4 quarters but haven’t make it up there yet. One of these days 🙂

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