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5 Myths About Camping

July 13, 2020  |  Permalink

Five camping myths debunked

Whether you're a self-motivated first-time camper or a friend has invited you, you might feel apprehensive about spending the night outdoors. It is normal to feel intimidated as a beginner camper, but that shouldn't stop you from experiencing the joy of sleeping under the stars. We're going to break down some of the most common camping myths to ease your mind and help you tackle a trip with confidence. When you're ready, head over to our 5 Beginner Camping Destinations blog to find the perfect place to start.

tent campsite at Chickasaw state park

Myth #1: I'll be judged for being a beginner.

Initial intimidation comes with trying any new activity, and the outdoors can seem especially hard to tackle as a beginner since there are lots of different activities. If you didn't grow up participating in outdoor recreation, taking the first step can be especially daunting. However, even the campers who seem to have it all figured out had to start somewhere. There are a few things a beginner in the outdoors can do to help alleviate some first-time jitters:

No matter where you are in your journey with the outdoors, our Tennessee State Park Rangers are always excited to meet and guide new people around the park. They can help you find your way and give you the information about park activities and the surrounding area. 

One of the best ways to experience a park for the first time is to go with a group. Groups can alleviate some initial anxiety and help you build a community of friends you can call for some company on outdoor trips. You can find lots of outdoor groups online across Tennessee that bring people together outdoors. Tennessee State Parks also has programs, events, and groups that you can join:

Events and Programs: Every Tennessee State Park hosts programs that you can sign up for online. Programs like guided hikes, beginner backpacking workshops, paddling trips, and wildlife programs will allow you to meet people, develop skills, and learn more about the natural side of our parks. There are also opportunities to sign up for overnight group trips. You can view events for specific parks on their pages or view our full event calendar here.

Friends Groups: Friends groups are a great way to meet people interested in the outdoors and take on a more involved role. Friends of the park help to preserve, protect, and promote the park through events and fundraising. You can find out more about how to get involved with a Friends group here


Widlife at Radnor Lake State Park
Myth #2: Some animals and bugs will harm me.

It's common to fear bears, snakes, and other critters that may live in the park, but it's important to remember that you're sharing their home for the night. Viewing wildlife is part of what makes being outdoors such a rewarding experience. While no one likes to encounter pesky mosquitoes on a hike, there are ways to prepare for your experience that can protect you. Using bug spray, prepping your campsite to avoid critters, and taking proper safety precautions will allow you to stop worrying and enjoy the experience. 

Bears: Black bears primarily live along the eastern border of the state. However, it is becoming more common to find bears on the Cumberland Plateau in places as far north as Pickett CCC Memorial State Park and as far west as Edgar Evins State Park. Bear attacks are extremely rare and can be avoided by practicing bear safety while visiting parks where bears may be present. Read our “five facts about black bears” blog to learn more.


Setting Up a tent at Edgar Evins State Park
Myth #3: I don't have the right gear to go camping.

You don't need the picture-perfect gear to go camping. A lot of camping gear can be acquired over time, and in the meantime, certain items around your home can work as a substitute. This is especially true for car camping when bulk and weight isn't a huge factor. You can also rent gear, buy used gear online, or borrow gear from a friend. While Tennessee State Parks doesn't offer gear rentals at this time, there are many rental shops scattered across the state that you could stop at on your way to the park. 

If you're wondering what gear you need, check out our camping checklist for a full list of suggested camping gear.


Group Camping at Reelfoot Lake State Park

Myth #4: It's too late for me to start camping as an adult.

No matter your current age, you don't have to grow up around nature to get out and enjoy camping later in life. If you have an open mind and are willing to learn, you can do everything you're dreaming of doing outdoors. You'll find that many of the events and programs our parks offer are attended by adults excited to share an outdoor experience with others, no matter your skill level.


Cooking chili on the fire at Tims Ford State Park

Myth #5: It's too expensive.

Camping is one of the cheapest vacations you can take! The cost of gear, food, campsite reservations, and activities are much lower than a traditional vacation and can be reduced with a little planning. 

Picking a Campsite: You can find cheaper campsites on weekdays at our parks. You will also find fewer people in our parks from Monday-Thursday. Compare prices with our “park availability” view when reserving a campsite.

Food: You can pack snacks for the road to cut costs on drive-through meals. You can save money on eating out by cooking meals at your campsite each day of your trip. Not only does this save money, but it allows you to experience the fun of cooking over a fire or camp stove at your campsite. If you're worried about keeping food cold during the trip, you can pack a cooler with dry ice to keep perishable foods fresh for meals each day. 

Wondering what kind of meals you can cook over a fire? Check out this Turkey Apple Chili recipe that's perfect for dinner.

Activities: The best part of staying at a park is being surrounded by hundreds of acres of land to explore for free. While some outdoor activities require equipment rentals, you can find plenty to do without additional cost. Our parks offer inexpensive daily programs that are a great way to explore the park with others and find out what activities you enjoy under the guidance of an expert.

Ready to start planning your trip?

Check out our “5 Beginner Camping Destinations” blog for suggestions on the best campsites for beginners at Tennessee State Parks. Or, head over to to book your campsite today. 

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