Outdoor Trophy Room


Don’t give up on that beautiful girl that has captured your heart just because she doesn’t share your love of the outdoors. When you take her on that first camping trip, if she’ll go at all, you have to convince her that she will have a good time.

I’m sure that by now you’ve already gone to movies and restaurants and you have convinced her that even though you are an outdoor person, you really are completely civilized. You might have made some meals together in your backyard on the grill and convinced her that cooking by a campsite is the same, only in different surroundings. Now is the time to convince her how nice it would be to spend some time in a tent.

When you take her camping for that first time, be sure that everything will go well. Pick a campground that you are sure will be very crowded. When she sees all of the other campers and meets some of the other women, she will not feel that what she is doing is so unusual. I’m also sure that the other women are by now experienced campers and will convince her that camping is a lot of fun. Be sure to check on the weather. At times, we all experience some bad weather, but for this first time, be sure to have checked the weather forecast for good weather.

When you pick your campsite, be sure it is away from any standing water so as not to have bugs and mosquitoes, and that it is out in an open and airy spot. Pitch your tent on a flat area and rake out all of the twigs and rocks. Don’t camp too close to the washrooms; you don’t want it to be too noisy with people passing by all night long.

Be prepared to do all of the cooking. She is only there for her enjoyment and it will be up to you to show her how easy camp cooking is. If she does learn to enjoy camping, I’m sure she will be happy to improve on your outdoor meals.

Plan on some activity that can prove interesting for her. Hiking in the woods, perhaps bring a small fishing rod and start an interest in fishing. Some campgrounds are near a lake and you could do some boating as well.

These are all examples of the first time I took my wife camping. You might have to have a fancy camper, or rent a cabin in the woods to get your lady out camping. My camping was all done with a tent, but if you wish, your campsite could include most of the conveniences you have at home. My children grew up camping and are all avid campers. We have, through the years, shared many family campsites together. If you teach your girls how to enjoy camping, you will be doing their future husbands a favor, as I did.

We are fortunate to have many good campgrounds in our area. White Pines State Park offers good camping if you want to be with a lot of campers, and a hike through the pine forest is a rewarding experience. Apple River Canyon offers a more secluded campsite and the river can provide some fishing.

Shabbona Lake has some of the best camping in the area, but because of the great fishing there, it can be very crowded. The lake offers great bass fishing and it is home to many of the larger Illinois muskie records.

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Lake Shelbyville is surrounded by some great campgrounds and the town offers some fine restaurants if you want a break from campfire food. Mary Satterfield, who writes her monthly Shelbyville fishing report in this magazine, is available as a fishing guide on the lake and can be reached by calling 217-827-0179.

I’ve camped by Lake Carlyle and the lake above the rail crossing, besides the remote campsites. It offers some good catfish. I’ve never done well in the main lake—it’s very shallow and muddy—but fishing below the dam can be very productive.

The campsites by Mississippi Palisades State Park are set up for some more group campsites and you’re quite a way from the river. I’ve never camped there.

A good place to take a first-time camper would be by the Scenic Ridge Campground near Whitewater, Wisconsin. It is located on the shores of Whitewater Lake near Routes 12, 89, 11 and A in southern Wisconsin. It has all of the attractions that I mentioned before—a hiking trail, beach, cabins, campgrounds, cottage rentals and boat rentals. You can call 608-883-2920 for reservations and receive a brochure describing the directions and map of the campground.

After 60 years of marriage, my wife says the only camping we’ll be doing at our age will be on the deck of a cruise ship. But we will be living with all of those memories of all of our past campsites.

And lastly…for all of you veteran fishergals and campers out there, you could go back through this article, interchange all of the “she’s” and “he’s,” “his” and “hers, and use the same strategies to take your significant other male rookie outdoorsman on his inaugural camping/fishing trip. Just don’t out-fish him too badly the first time out. However, once one of you puts a ring on the other’s finger, then it’s safe to let the outdoor games begin in earnest.



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