Think Outside the Box with Adaptive Camping
Recent changes in weather have us thinking of getting back outside and the type of activities we want to do. Camping is typically not very high on the interest levels for people with disabilities. Especially in a tent, which requires the most gear for participation in general. You have your tent, seating options, bedding, food, personal items, games/activities, general materials (flashlight/plates/utensils, etc), and whatever else you can fit in the vehicle. Good news! With some creative thinking - people can continue outdoor recreation activities like camping. Simple tweaks to some of the standard camping supplies may be all that is needed to get you back out in the great outdoors.
For instance, tents will have a zip up entry that then creates a lip at the bottom people generally step over when entering. That same step creates a barrier/tripping hazard for those with mobility difficulties or using devices. An adaptation for this is to take your standard doormat (may need 2) from your front door and lay across the bottom of the unzipped tent. Other ways to make the zippers on the door and windows easier to use is through adding zip ties and creating loops for hooking and pulling. For a little extra privacy while sleeping or changing clothes, consider looking into tents that have a center divider you can portion off from the other side. Or a way you create that will serve the same purpose of privacy.
It is a good idea to think of elevating the sleeping surface. Use a sleeping cot to either use as it comes or as a base for an air mattress to be placed on top. This would make getting in and out of bed easier by creating a more natural position to transfer or sit/stand.
If the camp site does not have restroom facilities –Portable commodes are an option that can be used for the bigger stuff. There are many variations of these from merely a bucket with a lid to full framed chairs with a chamber pot hooked up underneath. Don’t forget to pack the toilet paper! For bathing, a wash cloth and soap or some wet wipes will be your friend for cleaning all the areas on your body.
Don’t forget to pack:
Hands free flashlight – aka headlamp
Duct Tape – fixes everything – temporarily
Pot for cooking meals and boiling water
First aid kit
Camping will require some extra planning, adjusting, or rethinking how to accomplish those activity goals. But don’t let it hold you back from something you want to experience. There are even groups that take trips together. UMAISE - (University of Michigan Adaptive & Inclusive Sports Experience) will do an indoor camping for newbys to try and then go out in nature as a group on another date. Plus they even supply most of the gear!
For those venturing out, don’t let a few fears of the unknown hold you back. And don’t forget to check out all of the state parks - especially within Michigan - with campgrounds nearby and the features they offer in terms of amenities and accessibility. Several of the Michigan state parks have track chairs that are available for people to take out and enjoy some areas that they wouldn’t have been able to get to otherwise (beaches, hiking trails, hilly terrain..). For a list of parks with track chairs and how to reserve one free of charge, use the following link for track chairs in Michigan state parks. #Awareness