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Row, Row, Row Your Boat, Anywhere You Want!

The variety of boats available for those looking to get out on the water this summer is as vast as the customers looking to pur-chase them. From kayaks, to stand-up paddleboards, to canoes, pedal boats and beyond, it has become incredibly easy to find the right boat based on need, ability, and various features.
 
But with such a wide array of boats and features to choose from, how does one go about finding that perfect boat to enjoy the summer to its fullest? Noel Basque of Pelican attributes a quality boat to its hull design.
 
“Designing a hull requires investment in R&D and industrial design so lower quality kayaks tend to have simple hull designs that allow them to float but not much more,” Basque says. “Hull design involves trade-offs, but a well designed hull will put a premium on one feature while optimizing others so that the paddling experience remains enjoyable.”
 
Another feature to consider in a quality boat or kayak is its construction. For example, Old Town kayaks are Roto Molded, meaning they’re made in an enclosed steel mold containing polyethylene powder. It’s put into an oven and heated until a plastic is formed.
 
“With this process we can make our kayaks thicker on the ends and bottom then thinner on the deck, where we do not need so much material,” said Mark Palinsky of Old Town. “This is all about product durability.”
 
The Swiftwater 10.5, manufactured by Perception Sport, has a versatile design made for handling both lakes and rivers con-taining rapids. It has both a large cockpit, but it curves over the paddler’s legs so that the operator is able to control the boat with his or her body, which is paramount in handling tougher conditions.
 
In fact, all Perception Sport boats are one-piece, meaning there is increased durability.
They’re built with a high-end plastic that has built-in sun protection and are very stiff, resulting in a very high tolerance for abrasion. The stiffness of the kayak also leads to increased performance.
 
“This is one of the biggest differences in quality because it affects how the boat handles abrasion, how easy the boat is to con-trol and how well they perform,” said Greg Larson of Perception Sport.
 
If searching for the perfect fishing kayak for Dad this summer, look no further than the Patriot or Blast, which are both made by Perception Sport. These boats, built exclusively for fishermen, have special features added to ensure that its operator is in complete control of the boat and his tackle.
 
“We have some models like the Patriot and Blast that have fishing rod holders built-in or added, and have a very flat bottom that adds to initial stability for fishing, hunting, bird watching or general recreational use,” said Greg Larson of Perception Sport.
 
The features of boats and kayaks not only differ between brands, but each brand has various features that differ with each line of product. For example, Pelican kayaks have features on their higher-end models that allow for more experienced paddlers to venture out for longer periods of time. They also offer more seating comfort, adjustable foot pegs to suit each and every body type, storage space, and knee pads or thigh braces which allow more comfortable paddling and increased control.
 
The Old Town Trip 10, a Dunham’s exclusive model, carries a weight capacity of between 275 and 300 pounds. The bonus feature of this model that you won’t find on every kayak is the rear hatch system for gear storage.
 
“The rear cover opens into a large compartment that has what is called a bulkhead, or divider that seals that part of the boat off from the rest of the hull,” explains Palinsky. “This helps keep your gear dry, and provides extra flotation to the whole boat.”
 
Pelican also has several choices at Dunham’s this summer, including the Vibe 80 stand-up paddleboard for small paddlers, the Ultimate 100SE kayak, and the Escape 100 kayak, which offers adjustable foot pegs, stern Quicklock storage, a cockpit table with day hatch and bottle holder, and comfortable seating.
 
So whether you’re new to kayaking or a seasoned sailor, Dunham’s has the variety of boats with features perfect for everyone. With summer at its peak, don’t waste it away watching from shore. Get out and paddle!
 
See you in the woods!
 
-Paddle Bum
 
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Get Up and Go-Kart

 
When the weather warms up, everyone is looking to get out of house and into the sunshine. When biking gets boring and in-line skating is dull, go-karting is a great way to enjoy the outdoors.
 
With go-karting, you won’t have any problem getting the kids outside, and you won’t hesitate to join them.
 
“There’s something about a kart in and of itself that just screams ‘active’ – it gives you the get-out-and-go mentality,” says Lindsey DeLong of American SportWorks. “It encourages families to not only explore new ways to have a blast in their own yard, but it may encourage them to find new places to adventure to (and try the kart out on, of course!).”
 
All of the American SportWorks go-kart models are two-seaters. That means more members of the family can join in on the fun! All of the American SportWorks models also come with the company’s history and expertise.
 
The models include the Marauder which comes with a 208cc, 4-stroke engine and a three-year engine warranty.
 
The Black Widow also comes with a three-year engine warranty and has a 136cc, 4-stroke engine.
 
The Carbide is a new model that features all the best parts of the retired Quantum model. This new go-kart features a speedometer, bucket seating and what DeLong calls a “buggy” style.
 
While go-karting is designed for fun, safety should come first before taking one out for a ride. As with any powered vehicle, seat belts and helmets should always be worn and riders should stay alert and be prepared for the drive.
 
The owner’s manual is a good resource to learn more about the vehicle and how to operate it safely. Before starting out, drivers should be familiar with the course and its surroundings.
 
“The best thing to remember is that it’s all about fun and not necessarily crazy stunt riding. Leave that to the pros!” says DeLong.
 
Being prepared to operate the go-kart won’t be like cramming for a test. DeLong says that operation of some of the American SportWorks go-karts are as simple as stop and go. Some models are equipped with a pull start while others have a key ignition. There are also models that come with neutral and reverse gears, but others just have brake and gas pedals.
 
So this spring, enjoy the great outdoors and experience the adventures of go-karting. It’s like fun on four wheels.
 
“Spring fever is only enhanced when you can zip around your yard in a kart,” DeLong says. “Go smell those fresh spring flowers – at 24 mph!”
 
-Off-Road Warrior
 
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Paddle Your Way to Adventure

 
Today’s kayaks offer safe, inexpensive fun for the entire family.
 
If you’re a frequent visitor to our lakes and streams, you’ve likely noticed that more people are enjoying the same waterways while paddling a kayak. In fact, according to The Outdoor Foundation, 32 percent more participants took up the sport between 2009 and 2011. That’s not surprising when you consider that it can be enjoyed by young and old, is relatively inexpensive and the equipment requires little maintenance.
 
“Kayaks are friendlier today than they have ever been. They are more stable, more comfortable and easier to use. They’re also safer. The cockpit opening is longer and goes past your knees, making it easier to exit the kayak in an emergency situation,” said Mark Palinsky, of Old Town.
 
If you’ve considered joining this extremely enjoyable and relaxing activity, here are a few options and suggestions.
 
Fishing and River Kayaks
 
As our experts pointed out, we’re seeing two significant kayaking trends in: people are buying them to fish and to paddle along our scenic rivers.
 
“The river kayaks are simply an extension of what people have experienced for years. They have rented kayaks and canoes at liveries and have enjoyed the experience so much that they have decided to purchase the kayak for personal use. Our Swiftwater 10.5 kayak is ideal for this use. The fishing kayaks are great for those who want to get away from fishing from shore and don’t want to use a powerboat. I recommend our Patriot or Blast models. They are designed to carry fishing rod holders and come in camouflage colors,” said Greg Larson of Confluence Water Sports.
 
Another option for anglers is Pelican International’s Castaway 100 sit-on kayak. It offers plenty of speed, capacity and storage space. Mark Palinsky, of Old Town kayaks and canoes, offers yet another approach.
 
“You don’t necessarily have to go out and buy an angler kayak. Kayaks that are serviceable, with a large cockpit and high level of stability, such as our Vapor 10 model, are very good for people who like to fish. What many of our customers have found is that it’s less expensive to buy a base model and customize it to their specific needs,” Palinsky said.
 
Kids’ Kayaks
 
As many parents are discovering, kayaking is an ideal activity that can be enjoyed by the entire family, including children. Before you purchase a kayak for junior, Palinsky offers the following advice:
 
“Like shoes, the kayak has to fit the child. Shoes that are too big make the child clumsy and shoes that are too small are not comfortable. Frequently, parents will buy a 9-foot boat and will have their kids grow into it. It’s not necessarily the best approach,” he said.
 
Palinsky recommends making sure the kayak is designed to accommodate the child’s weight and that the foot pegs can be easily reached, since they help provide stability.
 
Stand Up Paddleboards
 
Also extremely popular nowadays are stand up paddleboards (SUPs). In fact, The Outdoor Foundation reports that nearly 60 percent of stand up paddling participants tried the activity for the first time in 2011.
 
“SUPs are wide surfboards that you stand up and paddle with and are more versatile than kayaks. You can sit, kneel or stand up on them. Women are using them for yoga and core exercising,” said Lisa Senecal, Pelican International.
 
Dunham’s Sports carries three different Pelican International models: Vibe, for smaller paddlers (up to 120 pounds), Flow, for intermediate paddlers and Surge, for more performance-oriented paddlers.
 
“We’re seeing an increase of SUPs in river use, especially in Michigan,” Palinsky added. “What a wonderful way to go down the river; they provide a much better view of what’s in front and around you.”
 
Kayak Care
 
One of the most appealing aspects of this sport is that the equipment requires little maintenance.
 
“Pretty much all of the kayaks that Dunham’s carries are low maintenance – even no maintenance,” Senecal said.
 
“We have sun protection built into the boat, but not on the seats. We recommend using a good UV protectant to prevent sun degradation,” Larson added. All of our experts recommended storing kayaks on their side when not in use.
 
Dunham’s Sports carries a wide range of kayaks and SUPs for a variety of purposes, configurations and price points. Be sure to consult with a sales representative to help you make an informed decision so you too can enjoy our area’s wonderful waterways.
 
-Paddle Bum
 
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Quick Preseason Workout to Improve your Golf Swing

As warm weather approaches, it is time for you to get ready to play golf again. As all golfers know, it is easy to start feeling tired early on in the season. Your swing can also suffer, because the rotational muscles of the shoulder and torso still feel the cramp of being unused all winter. This may take a toll on your scores, or worse still, may cause injuries.
 
A preseason workout routine is highly recommended for golfers. It involves as much stretching as possible because tension is the enemy of a well-coordinated golf swing. “Tempo” is a term often used by golf swing coaches, and it refers to the natural rhythm of a good golf swing. These exercises loosen and lengthen the muscles of your shoulder and torso, which helps you develop a consistent tempo more easily. So, the sooner these exercises make it into your daily routine, the more fun you’ll have during those first few rounds on the course.
 
It’s important to begin with 5-10 minutes of light cardio exercise, just running in place or jumping jacks will do. This allows warm blood to fill your muscles, thereby loosening them and making the following stretches more effective. Allow yourself to breathe naturally, and take full, deep breaths as you’re performing these stretches.
 
Head rolls – 30-60 seconds: Roll your ear gently to one side, toward your shoulder. Tilt your head back, then forth, and repeat on the other side. This relaxes the tension in the neck, and encourages shoulder flexibility.
 
Shoulder stretching – 2-3 minutes: Raise your right arm directly in front of you, then bring it to the left, wrapping your left elbow around your right arm and using it to gently bring your right arm closer to your chest. You will feel the stretch in your outer right shoulder. Reverse this process for the left side. This allows for much greater range of motion and smoother rotation in your golf swing, which translates into more consistent shot making.
 
Side stretching – 1-2 minutes: Raise your right arm directly above your head with your feet shoulder-width apart. Lean your shoulders to the left and sway your right hip slightly out. You will feel a stretch along the right side of your body from your finger tips to toes. Reverse this process for the left side of your body. This stretch targets the outside of your arms, outer hips, and most importantly, your abdomen, which will further enhance your rotational stability and flexibility.
 
This routine can also be incorporated into a weight-lifting routine that focuses on developing the core muscles of your back and abdomen, as well as your shoulder muscles and hip flexors. Sit-ups, crunches, and push-ups are good exercises for when you’re unable to make it to the gym. Use this routine twice, when you’re warming up and cooling down, for best results.
 
The exercises discussed above are just a few basic exercises that you can do to get fit for golf. Are there any other exercises that had a positive impact on your golf swing? Please share your experience in the comments section.
 
-Par Shooter

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Focus In on the Right Optics

Keeping your eye on the target is a whole lot easier with today’s optics. Optimizing your hunting performance with the right scope requires understanding optic features and assessing your hunting preferences.

Hunting optics can range in price from $30 to $2,000 . . . with plenty of choices in-between. The decision of what to buy is made tougher because a 4 x 32 scope that costs $30 may not appear to be much different than one that costs $200.

Lenses are the major difference between hunting optics. The least expensive scopes typically use plastic lenses. The next step up in quality and price involves the use of glass lenses.  Coatings added to glass lenses enhance brightness in low light situations and add a bit more cost. The most expensive optics use precision ground glass, similar to eye glasses.

Here are a few other tips to keep in mind when shopping for optics:

Power
The power of a scope is described by two numbers that indicate its magnifying ability and the size of the lens.
A standard 4 x 32 scope will magnify an object up to 4 times larger than you could see with the naked eye. The 32 indicates that the lens diameter is 32 millimeters.
The larger the second number, the lens diameter, the more it will help brighten the view.

Fixed Power
The magnification set by the manufacturer.
Fixed power scopes are adequate for hunters who need a good view of 50 to 100 yards.
The most popular fixed scopes are 4 x 32.

Variable Power
More applicable to a wider range of uses.
Variable power scopes can be adjusted according to the field of view needed as well as the available light.
Variable scopes range from 1.5 magnification up to 25 times for long-range viewing and shooting.

Field of View
How much you can see through your scope at 1,000 yards.
Generally, the higher the magnification, the less the field of view.
This information is always printed either on the instruction sheet or directly on the scope.

Eye Relief
The distance between your eye and the scope, which allows you to achieve the entire field of view.Can be adjusted once you have your scope and have it mounted.

The final key to selecting the right scope is assessing how you hunt. Hunting in the woods with shadows and less light requires a different scope than hunting in open fields with plenty of sun. Think about how you hunt, where you hunt and what the typical conditions are. Selecting the right optics becomes a lot easier when you can match your hunting needs with the right lens, power and view.

-Deer Abby

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HUNTING FROM BLINDS

A fundamental maxim of hunting is for you to see the prey before the prey sees you. This is why hunting blinds are so popular. They provide concealment for you, as well as a comfortable place to wait for that prey to appear. Whether you hunt deer, elk, turkey or waterfowl, blinds let you pick the perfect spot, help you blend into the environment, and protect you from the elements.
 
Buying a Blind
 
The obvious first question to ask is what are you hunting? Duck blinds and deer blinds are two completely different, well, animals. Waterfowl blinds can be set up on land or water. With deer blinds the fundamental question is bow or rifle. A bow means you’ll need more interior space. Draw your bow all the way back and then leave some wiggle room beyond that. You will also need some extra space depending on some other factors. For example, if you bring your son along, you’ll want more than a one-person blind. And if you travel via ATV you’ll want a blind big enough to hold the vehicle.
 
You also need to look at what you are hunting and the way you hunt it. Scent control is critical for deer, so you’ll want blinds with scent control fabrics. For turkey, that’s really not an issue. Camouflage is important, but don’t just assume any pattern will work. Take a look at the camouflage on the blind and make sure it will blend into the area you’re actually going to hunt in. Whether you stand or kneel will determine where you want visibility. Also, blinds with windows, screens or doors in all directions give maximum flexibility and the widest fields of fire. Portability is another big factor if you plan on moving often from site to site. Blinds vary greatly in how easy they are to transport and set up. If your site is semi-permanent, portability is not as big an issue.
 
Location, Location, Location
 
Just as in real estate, location is everything in hunting from a blind. Of course, you could say the same thing about any kind of hunting. You’ll want a high traffic location where you can blend in to your environment. That means finding appropriate cover. The best camouflaged cover in the world will stand out if it’s in an open field. Try to add bushes and/or tree branches to enhance the natural look and feel. If possible walk the area before you hunt it. Look for food supplies, cover and routes between the two. If possible, set up your blind a week or so before the actual hunt. That way the deer will get used to it.
 
But there is also an advantage to a portable blind. It lets you take into account prevailing winds so you don’t give away your scent. Try to identify several good areas for the blind and then you can set up in the best one for that day’s wind patterns.
 
Location and blending in are also important for duck blinds. You want to be on or near the water in an area you know ducks will be present. A high vegetation area will help attract ducks and will also help you camouflage the blind. You can cover the blind in camouflage netting to match the area, and cut a slit in the front where you are going to shoot.
 
Ultimately, the ducks will tell you how well your blind is set up. If circling ducks tend to fly away from your blind, you need to make some changes.
 
Tree Stands
 
Tree stands are another effective way to hunt deer. Their height gives you better visibility while preventing the deer from seeing you. While they may not be as comfortable as a blind, they give you clearer shots by allowing you to shoot over limbs and branches. There are four types of stands:
 
Ladder – Essentially a small platform at the top of some steps. Great for people who don’t want to climb and/or are insecure at height. Stable, but also heavy, not very portable and take time to set up.
 
Climbing – Involves two pieces, a chair and a platform below it. Allows you to ‘climb’ the tree while in the stand. Portable and easy to set up, but only for certain trees and for people comfortable at heights.
 
Hang-on (Lock-on) – This has a seat and footrest attached to the tree. Popular because of their versatility, they are lightweight, easy to set up and will fit most trees. The disadvantage is you have to carry the steps and climb the tree.
 
Tower – Not a stand, per se, but a separate platform with 3 or 4 legs. It’s necessary in areas without trees. It’s the only real alternative in prairie-like environments. It is comfortable and stable, but not at all portable.
 
-Deer Abby
 
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Getting Cozy With A Crossbow

Used correctly, the crossbow is an accurate and reliable weapon.
 
Riding a wave of relaxed hunting regulations and good results in the field, the crossbow has become the weapon of choice for many hunters.  “The crossbow market is still growing,” said Jackie Allen of Barnett Crossbows, ” and we’re happy to be part of it.”
 
The crossbow’s surge in popularity is good news because it enables more hunters, but crossbow hunting is not something that should be rushed into without preparation.  Like all weapons, a crossbow is only as accurate as the man or woman releasing the arrow.
 
Crossbow Basics
 
Hunting with a crossbow requires stalking capability, because you must get within 40 yards of the prey.  But crossbow hunters have an advantage over bow hunters in that the crossbow can be pre-cocked, so when a deer is in range, the mechanics of shooting are less likely to spook it.
 
Two types of crossbows are in general use today: compound and recurve.  Both offer advantages.  A compound crossbow is capable of generating more energy, but a recurve crossbow produces less vibration and is quieter.  A recurve crossbow can be serviced in the field if the string breaks, while string replacement on a compound crossbow is more complex.
 
Shooting either type of crossbow is a matter of drawing the string until it locks into place, loading an arrow, releasing the safety and pulling the trigger.  Crossbow arrows — sometimes called bolts — are shorter and heavier than standard arrows.  As with all weapons, a steady hold is essential.
 
A crossbow should never be fired withour an arrow loaded.  Doing so can damage the bow.  It’s also important to use arrows of the size and weight recommended by the crossbow manufacturer to ensure good performance.
 
While many crossbows make excellent hunting weapons, some are easier to use than others.  The Quad 400 Xtreme is one of the most hunter-friendly compound crossbows available and is capable of delivering a  400-grain arrow at a speed of 345 feet per second.  It’s available at Dunham’s in a package that includes a 4×32 multi-reticle scope, a quiver with three arrows and a crank cocking device that makes it possible for hunting.
 
 
Achieving Accuracy
 
Many factors affect accuracy, including damaged arrows, misaligned sights or scopes, hunter technique and mechanical defects.  When shooting with a recurve crossbow, it’s important to achieve an even draw when cocking.  In other words, if one of the crossbow’s limbs is displaced more than the other, the arrow won’t fly true.  A compound crossbow will generally draw equally if it is in good mechanical condition, but care should be exercised when cocking.
 
Crossbow hunters should do some target shooting before going out in the field.  This will not only allow time to achieve a smooth and steady release, but will also provide an opportunity to sight in your weapon and compensate for arrow drop over distance.
 
All crossbows have a sighting system that compensates for drop at a specific arrow speed and range, usually 20 to 50 yards.  This compensation allows you to aim directly at your target.  When the arrow leaves the crossbow, it drops continuously until it reaches the target.  So a properly calibrated sighting device will cause the arrow to leave the weapon on an upward trajectory when you aim directly at your target.  The arrow will then travel in an arc and arrive at the target.
 
Since arrow drop is continuous, the sighting adjustment is only correct within a specific range. But many sighting devices are gauged with multiple reference points that allow accurate aim at varying distances.  Some scopes display reticles, essentially lines, while others use dots.  A three-dot scope, for example, might be set up accurate targeting at distances of 20, 30 and 40 yards.  Range-finding reticle scopes are equipped with a scale that allows you to measure distance from target before selecting a reference point.
 
Sighting-in your scope is critical and best accomplished with a stationary target and the arrow you’ll use in the field.  All scopes have an adjuster for windage, which determines the targeting accuracy left and right of center, and another for elevation, which dials in targeting above and below center.
 
Begin by shooting from 10 yards away to make sure you’re in the ballpark.  If your results are close to target center, move out to 20 yards away.  IF they’re not even close, your scope might be incorrectly installed or way our of adjustment.  At 20 yards, you should be able to achieve a tight grouping of three shots within a 3-inch circle.
 
If you can’t achieve a tight grouping, there’s no point in twisting adjustment screws.  you should practice your aim and make sure you’re shooting with a smooth motion and steady grip.  Once you achieve a tight circle, you can tweak the adjustments to position your grouping of arrows at the target center.  If your group of three arrows is consistently to the left or right of the bulls eye, you should turn the windage adjustment to compensate.  Similarly, if the group is above or below the bulls eye, you should turn the elevation adjustment to compensate. Then retest and make further adjustments if necessary.
 
If your scope has multiple reticles or dots, you should dial in the top line or dot for your minimum shooting distance, then the other dots or lines will serve as targeting marks for longer distances.  So if the top dot of a three-dot scope is adjusted for accuracy at 20 yards, the two lower dots may will be accurate at 30 and 40 yards.  Test and verify.  The extra time on the range will serve you well in the field.
 
-Deer Abby
 
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Who Says Roughing it Has to be Rough?

Ahh, the peace and tranquility of camping in the great outdoors! There’s nothing like it. The fresh air, the sounds of nature, the beautiful lakes, and sleeping under a blanket of stars.
 
Oh, wait — don’t forget the biting bugs, the risk of getting lost in uninhabited wilderness, and the lack of toilet paper and running water. On second thought, maybe camping isn’t quite the summer vacation you had in mind. But, before you roll up your sleeping bag and pack up your cooler, give Mother Nature a second chance. Camping can be a great vacation option — and it’s fast becoming one of the most popular activities.
 
In fact, with uncertainties about the economy, falling home values, rising food prices, and a big decline in consumer spending, many people are looking to their own backyards for a “staycation” getaway — otherwise known as a more affordable vacation spent at or near home.
 
When you consider the fact that for less than the cost of a hotel room and meals in restaurants, a family can enjoy a weekend getaway camping, it’s not surprising that last year alone, nearly 33.7 million Americans chose to visit local campgrounds for backpacking, hiking and camping, while many others chose to pitch a tent right out their own back door.
 
If you’re one of the millions who’ll be roasting marshmallows over an open fire (or over the BBQ in the backyard), you may want to think about a few small investments that can make your camping experience memorable and fun without breaking the bank.
 
First, let’s talk about the most important piece of equipment for any type of camping excursion — the tent. It’s the staple of your outdoor stay — regardless of where you’re staying.
 
Tents can vary in size, shape, weight and price, and Dunham’s has something for everyone. From smaller tents like the Coleman Sun Dome and the Eureka! Apex 2XT, to a family tent like the Browning Cottonwood tents or the World Famous 18 x 10 tent, you’re sure to find one that will fit your needs.
 
Keep in mind, if you’re camping away from home, it’s a good idea to practice putting up your tent in the back yard before the trip. A dark rainy night is not the time you want to try to figure out which pole goes where!
 
Sleeping bags are also a necessity. You’ll want a bag that will keep you comfortable in different climates, so unless you plan to camp in the extreme cold, Coleman suggests a three-season bag that will handle temperatures that drop to about 30 degrees. That said, if you’re someone who likes to pile on extra blankets at night, you might want to opt for a bag that is colder-rated.
 
Regardless of where you’re camping, you’ll also need a place to cook your food. If you’re doing the backyard thing, your BBQ grill is a handy option. However, if you’re staying at a campsite, you’ll need to bring your own stove or use a grill that’s located on the premises. (While many sites do have grills for use, you’ll want to make sure to pack your own charcoal, lighter and lighter fluid.)
 
Speaking of cooking, you’ll want to make sure you have paper plates, napkins, utensils (disposable or metal), and of course, some sort of table to eat on. While most campsites have picnic tables available for use, there are several inexpensive folding tables on the market should you choose to purchase one. Again, if you’re roughing it in the backyard, your patio table will make a great picnic setting.
 
Flashlights, matches and lanterns are also important to have when camping. And, while you backyard campers can certainly use your porch light, an “official” camping lantern makes the experience feel more authentic.
 
So, now that you know the basics of what you’ll need to pack, have you figured out what you’ll do once you’re there? Well, here are a few suggestions to help make your family camping trip (home or away) a fun experience for everyone:
 
Make s’mores. Everyone loves them, and they are easy to make. Just toast marshmallows over a fire and then place between two graham crackers and a piece of chocolate.
 
Give your kids 10-15 minutes to go on a nature hunt. Have them find things like “the biggest green leaf,” or “the smoothest rock.” Gather back at the campsite and talk about what you found.
 
Play flashlight tag. Every player gets a flashlight and everyone runs around the yard — or campsite, hiding from the flashlight beams while trying to spot other players with flashlights.
 
Remember, with a little preparation, and the right equipment, camping can be an exciting, inexpensive vacation option for the whole family. So lace up your hiking boots, pack up the cooler, and get ready to enjoy the great outdoors. It will be a trip you’ll never forget.
 
Important tips to keep in mind when camping away from home:
 
Pack items that have multiple uses — this cuts down on the amount of gear you have to take. For example, a poncho packs easily and can be used as a rain jacket, a windbreaker, a ground cloth or a mosquito shield.
 
Wear comfortable shoes — a hike in the woods could turn into a host of blisters if your shoes are too tight — or not the appropriate material for the terrain.
 
Dress in layers — this way, you can take clothing off if you get too warm — and put it back on when the weather starts to cool off.
 
Always let people know where you are going and when you plan to return — chances are, everything will be fine, but if something does happen, someone will know where to send help.
 
Other things to pack:
–First aid kit (bandages, cold compress, calamine lotion, antihistamine, aspirin/similar pain reliever, antibacterial ointment)
–Bug spray
–Plastic bags (storage for food, wet items, outdoor objects you find)
 
-Happy Camper
 
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As Close as Your Own Backyard

It’s summer, and the backyard beckons.
 
What better way to spend a sunny summer day than with the family in your own backyard? No need to ponder where to go and what to do. Forget the travails of travel and parking.
 
At one time, fun in the backyard meant badminton or croquet. No wonder most of us hit the road looking for entertainment. But today there are a wide variety of outdoor games from which to choose; games the family can enjoy together.
 
To give you an idea of some of the great choices in backyard entertainment, we’ve put together brief descriptions of some of the games families enjoy most.
 
Poles by Watersports LLC
 
This is a new game that makes the flying disc more fun than ever. All you need to play are two game poles, a flying disc and a couple of empty water bottles. The poles are illuminated for night play and have a sturdy base that keeps them upright. They come packed in a carrying case along with the flying disc.
 
To play, the poles are placed 20 to 30 feet apart and an empty water bottle is placed atop each pole. The object of the game is to knock the bottle from the top of the pole with a flying disc. Players throw the disc from behind their pole toward the opposition’s pole. A direct hit on the bottle or a hit on the pole that causes the bottle to fall results in a score. Two or more can play, with teammates taking turns.
 

Corntoss Bean Bag Game
 

From Driveway Games comes a weatherproof version of this classic target game. Competitors toss plastic-filled beanbags at portable plastic game boards. The competition is scored similar to horseshoes and offers hours of entertainment for two to four players. Packed in a storage bag, the game includes a rulebook and setup guide.
 
Stream Machine Water Guns
 
Put on those bathing suits and get out the water guns! Stream Machine hydrobolic water launchers from Watersports LLC can shoot water up to 70 feet. Quick and easy to fill, they’re the perfect choice for serious water battles. Stream Machines are available in a variety of sizes, so there’s one to fit the smallest or largest of hands. A double barrel model doubles the fun.
 
BAGGO® Bag Toss
 
BAGGO® is a popular backyard game where two or four players toss beanbag-like toss bags of unpopped corn at plastic targets. The game comes with toss bags, game boards, built-in scorekeepers, and an instruction manual. Toss a bag in the game board’s hole and score three points, a bag on the board scores one. The first player or team to reach 21 wins.
 
Tournament Gold Volleyball
 
Volleyball is an active game that will get the family moving. Sportcraft’s Tournament Gold Volleyball set comes with heavy-duty poles, an easy-to-install, clip-on 32-ft x 3-ft net, an on-net scorekeeping system, an official volleyball, and an air pump.
 
Blongo Ball
 
Does your family blongo? From Blongo Family Fun comes this new game that will provide hours of entertainment. Bounce blongo balls — two golf balls joined by a foot of rope — onto the rungs of a ladder-like stand to earn points. According to the manufacturer, the game does not require athletic skill.
 
Kan Jam
 
This disc-tossing game from Kan Jam LLC is fast-paced fun for four players. One player from each team throws the disc toward the target “kan.” If the thrower doesn’t score a direct hit, a teammate tries to deflect it into or onto the kan. Points are awarded based on whether the disc strikes the can or lands in it. The first team to record an exact score of 21 wins. A direct toss into the kan’s narrow slot is an instant win. The distance between the kans can be modified to accommodate players of various ages and ability.
 
Washer Toss
 
Ty Fun Trading Company’s Washer Game provides tons of fun in just a wee bit of space. Players score points by tossing washers into a cup within a box. A toss into the cup counts for more than a toss into the box. Scoring is similar to horseshoes. More than two can play as teams. First player or team to score 21 points wins.
 
Jarts, Hula Hoops, and Hot Ropes
 
From Whamo and Fundex come classic backyard toys like the easy-to-learn but tough-to-master hula hoop. While hula hooping is usually a solo sport, Jarts is a game for two players or two teams. Large darts are tossed underhand toward a horizontal target on the ground. Jumping rope is great exercise for one or the whole gang, and vibrantly colored Hot Ropes bring high fashion to this favorite outdoor activity.
 
-Fun For All Ages
 
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