(Lower Huron Metropark/Facebook Photo)

(Lower Huron Metropark/Facebook Photo)

In Michigan, when the long, long months of winter have finally drawn to a close, Detroiters from across the southeast region flock to the beautiful outdoors of the Mitten State to get back in touch with nature. One of the best ways to do this (and easiest) is to plan a camping trip. While camping can be an extremely relaxing and very peaceful experience, you’re going to need the right tools in order to make it a successful excursion. For that, metro Detroiters can turn to the helpful hands and knowing minds of the hard-working individuals at Bass Pro Shops – including those of Bill Jarrett, the team lead of the store’s camping department.

Bill Jarrett of Bass Pro Shops (Credit, Michael Ferro)

Bill Jarrett 
Bass Pro Shops
4000 Baldwin Road
Auburn Hills, MI 48326
(248) 209-4200

As a 14-year veteran of Bass Pro Shops’ Camping Department, Bill Jarrett has acquired an extensive knowledge of all things related to camping in the Michigan area. Being the store’s Team Lead in this department, Bill shares his experience and expertise on a daily basis, as well as educates customers and fellow coworkers. In addition to camping, Bill is also very knowledgeable in proper footwear for hiking, trail-walking and other extended nature-plodding activities.

1. What is the most crucial item for any camper packing for a trip in the southeastern Michigan area?

The most important piece of equipment when packing for a camping trip is your shelter. This goes beyond a tent to include canopies or screen rooms. Spring in Michigan means equal chances for both sunshine and rain. Make sure that your tent is roomy enough for everybody to sleep as well as has enough extra room for storing gear. Check this carefully as a “four-person tent” doesn’t typically sleep four and have room for gear. If it does rain, you’re going to want some extra room for cooking and eating that you’ll likely not have in any tent. This is where screen rooms or canopies can come in handy.

2. What is one tool that novice campers struggle with most? Do you have any advice or products to help with this item?

More people struggle with their tents/shelters than anything else. Make sure when choosing your first tent or shelter to consider the more simple designs such as dome tents. These usually only have two to three poles and are simple to put up with very few parts to cause confusion. Always remember the KISS method: “Keep It Simple Stupid.” It can become especially important if you’re putting up your tent in the rain, wind or dark.

3. Are there products that can help first-time campers adjust more easily to the great outdoors?

Some of the best products for first-time campers are simple camp stoves and folding camp kitchens. Stoves are compact and run on small portable propane canisters. These make cooking far easier than trying to cook every meal over a camp fire, particularly if it’s raining. Camp kitchens create an organized area to prepare meals, as well as clean dishes or other camp tasks.

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4. What is one product that all veteran/experienced campers pick up to pack for their excursions when they come to your stores?

The one item every camper, new or experienced, should have is a ThermaCell insect-repellent system. These are an inexpensive addition and will clear a small area of most flying insects, because nobody likes to have flying pests around their campsite.

5. During the spring, what are some of the best aspects about camping?

The best part about spring camping is that you’re out in the middle of nature as it’s coming back to life after a long winter. Flowers are emerging, birds are coming back north for the summer and other wildlife is emerging from their winter hiding spots. You’re also taking a break from the “plugged-in” world. You’re able to experience that there’s more out there than what you can find on your computer screen or smartphone.

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Michael Ferro is freelance writer and a graduate of Michigan State University where he majored in Creative Writing and received the Jim Cash Creative Writing Award. Born and bred in Detroit, he currently resides in Ypsilanti Township. Additional writing can be found at Examiner.com.