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Johnstown area camping: five tips for a fun stay at our local state parks

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It is great to be able to get out in nature and camp. I love relaxing in the woods and sitting around a campfire. The smells are great, usually and I feel the food tastes better too. But there are some things that you can do when camping at our local Pennsylvania State Parks to help your family maximize the fun.

Reserve your site early. This allows you to have the best chance of finding the site that best suits your needs. Pennsylvania’s State Parks have many different types of sites, primitive with no hookups or electricity to some parks with full hookups including sewer. Know what you are looking for and what will be acceptable. If you live close enough to the park, check out the campground to find the best sites.

Check out the events at the park. Many parks have environmental education or outdoor recreation programs especially on the weekends. Check these out before the trip. While many of these programs are free and require no registration, some may have limited space. By the time you get there, you may find that all of the program slots are filled. You can find out about the park’s programming by going to www.visitPAparks.com, selecting your park and clicking on the events tab.

Bring extra cash. Many parks will have concession stands for food, boat rentals and some even have bike rentals. However, these cost money. So if you have a little extra money, you will be able to enjoy these activities. Many parks also have some souvenirs at the park office or you can find them at local businesses also. This will also give you a means of replenishing supplies such as firewood.

Try something new on your own. When you check out the park’s programming, take time to find out about other activities at the park such as fishing, swimming, boating and hiking. You can also find out about activities such as geocaching through the geocaching.com website. This is a great way to explore the park by searching for a geocache. Or visit the sister site for waymarking which will help you find points of interest in and around the park.

Enjoy the taste of camping. Plan some of the classic camp foods. S’mores, roasted marshmallows and mountain pies are some great deserts. These are foods that can be prepared together and even the little ones can cook themselves. Try cooking a meal in a Dutch oven or even try tin foil cooking. Remember that young children should be closely supervised around a campfire.

So get out and enjoy our local state park campgrounds this summer. And take time to make sure the family has fun.

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