Memorial Day Weekend is nationally recognized as the beginning of the summer camping season. In Montana that can sort of be a crap shoot. It’s all a matter of if the weather decides to cooperate.

Our good friends George and Carole along with Sandy and I would load everything into the campers, hook up the boats and head out. Our favorite places were Lake Mary Ronan, Georgetown and Lake Placid.

I can remember two separate weekends at Lake Mary Ronan; one was cold enough that while we were out in the boat fishing we were putting our hands in the water to warm them up. The other was watching a couple of tent campers set up next to us. They stored most of the food stuffs in cardboard boxes, outside, in a heavy rain. The next morning it was a pile of pulp. Being the congenial campers we shared breakfast coffee and scrambled eggs.

Georgetown Lake was a raging thunderstorm with about an inch of hail. By the next day it’s 80 and sunburn time. The fishing was good.

Placid Lake was the best. We’ve got our spot all set up. The campground host comes by and checks in and lets us know a couple of young black bears have been wandering through the area. Later a couple of cars loads of folks pull into the spot next to us. They take the basic approach; sleeping bags, cooler, gas grill and hot dogs with s’mores for desert. No clean up afterwards; just leave it on the picnic table. About 2AM we’re awakened by a shout, “holy****!”  Then the sounds of mad scrambling and car doors slamming. At first light it was evident the bears had enjoyed a late night snack of hot dogs and marshmallows with graham crackers. The campers were fast asleep in their cars.

So if you’re going to venture out this weekend take along clothing to cover everything from sun to storm. And one other thing keep a clean camp. You can visit the State Parks website and try to make a reservation or take a chance on finding a spot. The Department holds 25% of the camp sites open for walk-ups.