Picnics 201—Keeping the Great Outdoors Great

In Picnics 101 I listed items that no picnicker should leave home without. In Picnic 201 we cover another essential park of picnicking—location. Choosing a picnic destination can be just as exciting as deciding what you will pack in your basket. Whether you choose to dine at the beach, at a national park or at your neighborhood playground it is always a good idea to be responsible when using a public area.

By remembering to exercise the following rules you not only insure that the area you are picnicking in will be viable for years to come, you also set a good example for your children about how to treat property that doesn’t belong to you:

· Don’t picnic in unauthorized areas. Some parks have areas that have been declared “off limits” to picnickers in order to protect wildlife and vegetation. Respect the rules and stay in areas where picnics are permitted.

· Don’t picnic in an area that is close to rising water. Check with local rangers to find a safe and legal picnic area. You don’t want to spread out your meal in an area that is susceptible to sudden flash floods or other dangers.

· If your picnic involves grilling food make sure you are using the proper outdoor cooking equipment. Some parks have restrictions on the types of grills or camp stoves that can be used on the grounds. Check with the park or beach ahead of time to make sure there are no fire bans or other restrictions in place.

· Don’t Litter. If a napkin flies off your picnic table chase after it and put it in the trash. Don’t leave leftovers out thinking that it will make a nice afternoon snack for Yogi and his friends. Bring your own trash bag. If there isn’t a trash bin near your picnic spot collect your rubbish in your own bag and deposit it in a trash receptacle on your way out of the park.

· Be courteous. Remember you are sharing public lands with other picnickers so don’t crank up your radio, yell, scream, fight, or use profanity in front of others. After all, most people retreat to the great outdoors in search of peace, quiet and to enjoy a meal in a relaxing atmosphere—they don’t want to be witness to your family’s dramas.

· Be prepared—always bring along extra safety items such as water, flashlights, maps, and a cell phone.

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About Michele Cheplic

Michele Cheplic was born and raised in Hilo, Hawaii, but now lives in Wisconsin. Michele graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a degree in Journalism. She spent the next ten years as a television anchor and reporter at various stations throughout the country (from the CBS affiliate in Honolulu to the NBC affiliate in Green Bay). She has won numerous honors including an Emmy Award and multiple Edward R. Murrow awards honoring outstanding achievements in broadcast journalism. In addition, she has received awards from the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association for her reports on air travel and the Wisconsin Education Association Council for her stories on education. Michele has since left television to concentrate on being a mom and freelance writer.