[media-credit name=”Elizabeth Hollingshaus” align=”alignleft” width=”300″][/media-credit]Pool parties and dollar movies keep most college students busy during the summer months, but adventurers at BYU have another option around every corner — camping.
Utah County alone is full of canyons and reservoirs where camping is open to the public. With such opportunities essentially in their backyard, students do not have to look far for a place to pitch a tent and enjoy the outdoors.
“American Fork Canyon is by far the best,” said Billy Hiatt, a Landscape Design major at BYU. “It’s generally crowded, but if you know your way around and go far enough up then you can get into some beautiful and isolated places.”
Hiatt’s favorite canyon is just one of numerous options. Provo Canyon, Rock Canyon and Deer Creek Reservoir offer similar spots for quality camping.
“Even out west of Utah Lake is good,” Hiatt said. “No one cares what you do, so you can camp anywhere and have a big bonfire.”
Camping provides adventure for those seeking it, but adventure can take a wrong turn if proper preparations go unmade. Ben Swank, an employee at Outdoors Unlimited, said the most important preparation comes in bringing the right supplies.
“I have essentials I bring when I camp,” Swank said, “and I also always tell someone where I am going and when I’m going to be back.”
Safety and preparation are important, no doubt, but camping can be a safe and stress-free adventure for students seeking a spontaneous trip as well.
“I don’t usually prepare too much,” said Hiatt. “I just grab my hoody and my sleeping bag and head out whenever I feel like it.”
Camping can be easy, and Mackenzie Gregerson, a senior from Atlanta, Ga., studying Neuroscience, said it is just a matter of knowing where to look for the right supplies.
“Sometimes I use someone else’s sleeping bag,” Gregerson said. “I ask people if they have equipment and, as long as you return it, people are generally nice.”
Beyond neighbors and roommates, Utah campers can find sufficient gear from local outdoor supply stores.
“I get my gear from Out ‘N Back,” Hiatt said. “They have sweet deals all the time and, if you’re on their mailing list, they’ll send you sweet coupons.”
Swank, a grandfather senior of the Scouting Program at BYU, prefers to do his shopping at the place most familiar to him, Outdoors Unlimited. He recommends the options there to potential campers.
“We have camping tents, sleeping bags, backpacks, camp stoves and ground pads,” Swank said. “I also try and go to outdoor retailer events where you can get some good deals on equipment.”
Even with the spectrum from tent stakes to tarps, avid campers know there’s more than logistics to creating fond memories.
Hiatt, who has been camping with his dad for as long as he can remember, said practice is one of the keys to camping success.
“Go camping as much as possible,” he said. “Once you’ve done it once or twice, you will know what it takes and it will always be an adventure.”
For Gregerson, it is more about appreciating the simplicity of the trip.
“You don’t really need a lot to camp, you just need to want to go,” Gregerson said. “You just need a will to see what God made for you to camp under and a good attitude about it.”