Camp Journaling: Part Two — Writing The Entry

So on Friday I talked about how I take the notes for the camping journal I keep. Since that post was all about the notes, today I’m going to give you a look at how I actually write the entry based off those notes.

For this, I have a black composition notebook that is solely used for writing these entries and nothing else. Labeled and all. It even has an index page and a direction/layout page of how I write the entries so I don’t vary at all from year to year. (I’m actually on notebook number 2 for these entries. Half of the first one makes me cringe though since I was young and aspiring and still trying to figure out a groove on doing this.)

Anyways, for each season/year I designate a title page that even gets one of the flag sticky notes for easy access to each year. Underneath the title of “Year 2016” I’ll make my own little index of each trip for that year and what page that entry starts on. The overall index at the beginning of the notebook only lists the page numbers for the Year title page and then what trips were that year. My index on the Year title page has the page numbers for each individual entry.

(Did that make sense? It sounded better in my head then it did writing it out.)

Once I have those title pages done, the next page starts the first entry. I start by using a black pen and writing the name of the campground. On the three lines underneath the title space, I divide it into two columns, aligning to the margin lines for two separate things.

On the left hand side, I refer to my notes and the three ratings I talked about — Facilities, Activities, and Attractions — and list those going down. On the right hand side margin, I first list the dates in which we went, then the town and state the campground resides in, and then the time in which it took us to travel to the campground. On the fourth line down from the title, aligned center, I write Average for my rating and then using little star stickers for the average rating I gave the campground.

Once I have that header information, I set my black pen aside and go for a pencil so I can start writing the entry.

When I write these entries, I break them up into four paragraph topics: the facilities, other notes that do not include the facilities, places to eat and attractions, and if we are likely to return to the campground or not with final thoughts.

See how this runs parallel to how I wrote my notes?

Starting with the facilities, I’ll write out what the campground has to offer and whatever detail I have about them. What kind of stuff the game room had, how deep the pool was even if I remember to look, how well kept things were. Then there’s things like the camp store and what they have to offer. All that general information you might expect to find in a brochure or About Us section of a website. That all goes into the first paragraph.

My second paragraph is all the left over notes I have that don’t really fit in the category of talking about the facilities. Things like how level the sites are, if they’re expensive or reasonable priced. Perhaps it’s about how swampy the campground gets if it rains, or little interesting tidbits like some campgrounds may do street names for each lane of sites for fun. Like one campground that has a Skunk Hollow because they used to get a lot of skunks around that area of permanent sites. Anything that doesn’t fit into the first paragraph goes into this one.

The third paragraph will map out the places we can eat and any attractions around the campground. I start with the eateries, and make sure to note which one we went to and how good the food was. Then I start on the attractions. When I write the attractions, I go in order of closest to furthest away in travel time. I also try to keep similar attractions grouped together within those travel times as much as possible. When I talk about them I make sure to mention what they have to offer and what the place is if the attraction’s title is not enough.

All three of these paragraphs tend to vary in length depending on how much I have to write about. I’ve had attraction paragraphs last over a page long, and I do not write very big. Granted, I probably could and should break these up a little more, but this is just nice and easy organization to write the notes into three paragraphs of similar categories and topics.

The final paragraph is always the shortest, and easiest. I tend to start it off with the question of “would we go back?” Normally, the answer is yes. Sometimes it’s a sort of yes or a maybe, but rarely is it ever a no. Then again, I’m not always too picky when it comes to campgrounds. It’s a weekend away from work and stress after all. I’ll leave any closing comments about the campground and then that’s finally it for the trip.

I’m all done at that point and ready for the next adventure.

Normally, these entries range from about five pages long to maybe around seven or eight. Again it depends on how good my notes are, and how much I have to write about. Some are a lot easier than others. At the end of writing one, I will take the brochure of that campground and tuck it into the notebook at the start of that entry as well.

And that is how I journal for camping. I’ve been doing this for a couple years now, and plan to keep doing it. Speaking of which, I need to go write one of these entries now.