Camping is a fun and exciting adventure – and some of the top campgrounds across the United States are part of the state park systems. For example, the Niagara Reservation, Valley of Fire and Hunting Island are all within state park systems.

If you want to fully enjoy the beauty of nature in these pristine surroundings, there are some steps you must take. The right safety precautions help ensure you are protected against the elements, wildlife and simple accidents that can strike any time.

Let’s look at some of the most important camping safety tips to be aware of:

1) Respect Nature

This basic concept will do the most to safeguard your campsite in any state park. Before you go into the wilderness, know what kinds of animals are on the grounds, respect their space and be careful not to get too close. Most animals are not aggressive, but they can be tempted to approach by the scent of food, the sight of a fire and other cues.

2) Don’t Pick or Eat Anything

Even the most skilled outdoorsman should avoid picking or eating anything growing in a state park. In the wilderness, there’s such a variety of plants that it is easy to misidentify them, even if you are familiar with them. Besides, even taking a small amount from the environment may have an ecological impact you don’t intend.

3) Be Cautious About Fires

Especially when camping in the backcountry, it’s crucial to follow proper safety precautions with your fires. There may be specific guidelines you must follow about how to build a fire pit, where your pit may be situated and how to douse it afterward. It’s particularly essential to make sure your pit is extinguished and every ember stomped out.

4) Be Careful with Your Litter

Litter can harm animals, and food waste may draw their attention and cause them to enter your camp. When you are far from developed facilities, you also must be careful about your own biological waste. It may be necessary to bury or otherwise dispose of food and organic waste when you are done. This helps prevent scents from disturbing animals.

5) Be Alert to Weather Conditions

It’s important to be alert to the weather, especially if you are going into the backcountry. Research the area and understand the risks related to rain, snow and heat during your stay. Keep a reliable radio so you can pick up updates from ranger stations.

With these camping safety tips, you’ll protect yourself and your campsite from the unexpected. That way, you can focus on relaxing and appreciating the great outdoors in your favorite state park.

One of the most exciting parts of vacation for endorphin enthusiasts is the chance to switch up our exercise routine. St. George Island is a fitness lover’s dream, with 17 miles of paved bike trails and our greatest resource for adventure—the Gulf of Mexico. Needless to say, many of our activities are water-based, but one company in particular stands out with its unique offerings.

In just five short years, young entrepreneur Sam Fortunas’ Island Fit SUP has become a fixture on the Forgotten Coast fitness scene. Her mission to spread her love of standup paddle boarding brought her back to the same area where decades before her great-grandparents immigrated to pursue the American Dream by way of sponge diving. That heritage of deep respect for Apalachicola Bay and St. George Island is apparent in her fitness offerings, which all take place outdoors, giving access to pristine surroundings while working up a sweat.

In the way of paddle boarding, Island Fit SUP has a variety of options, making it accessible to every level of fitness and background with the sport. Beginners can get a taste for paddle boarding with lessons covering everything from standing on the board to holding the paddle. Both private and small group lessons are available, ensuring you get lots of one-on-one time with your certified instructor. More experienced paddle boarders will enjoy the signature guided paddleboard excursions and eco-tours, led by St. George Island area experts. You choose the setting: explore the intricate estuary eco-system of Apalachicola Bay or seek out dolphins and sea turtles on the beachfront trips. And anglers will love the challenge of the paddleboard fishing trips!

If you’re looking for a more relaxing way to keep up your fitness regimen while on vacation, Island Fit Sup has you covered with their beach yoga classes. Imagine greeting the day on the beach with a yoga flow, with the waves rolling in sand and the gulls calling overhead serving as the soundtrack to your vinyasa. Soft morning sun caresses your skin, and there’s no need for a mat as a beach towel on the sugar white sand provides all the support necessary for this gentle session. Classes meet at the Lighthouse Public Beach every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, from March to September. Private lessons are available. Please bring a beach towel and cash; classes are $15.

Whatever your preferred activity is on the mainland, consider expanding your horizons with Island Fit SUP! You won’t get bored (no pun intended) with this one-of-a-kind way to get out and get active while experiencing gorgeous St. George Island!