Author C.E. Poley starts her article with a quote from the patriarch of all things nature, John Muir: “In every walk with nature, one receives far more than he seeks.” To me, that speaks volumes.
Camping recharges our batteries because we both disconnect and reconnect.
When we’re camping, we turn off our electronics — no TV, no iPods, no cellphones, no emails — nothing that would have us tied to the daily grind that wears us down.
Instead, we’re free to enjoy time for self-reflection, time with our families and friends, and time for what Mother Nature has so gloriously provided.
Foley’s article delves into the science of how camping enriches our life — some of what she says, quite frankly, are beyond my simple comprehension. Honestly, I tend to gloss over those sentences when terms like “biorhythms” are thrown about. All I know is that I feel better when I’m camping.
So here’s Foley’s “8 Ways Camping Enriches Your Life” — along with my comments thrown in for good measure
1. It resets your body’s biorhythms
Foley says our bodies are “naturally inclined to follow solar patterns when it comes to day and night activities.” She cites a study by the University of Colorado that tracked two weeks of outdoor living showed that “being outside reset and improved the body’s daily rhythm.” Basically, the study said people who lived outside slept better at night and got more sunlight during the day.
“Get outside and get some extra rays and deep sleep, whether it’s cold or not,” Foley said. “Your body will feel refreshed, which means you will, too.”
Can’t argue with that, mainly because I still don’t understand what my “body’s biorhythm” exactly means. All I know is when I settle down to sleep in our travel trailer after a long day of being outside, it’s some of the best sleep of my life.
2. It forces you to problem solve
“If you’re taking an extended hiking and camping trip of some kind, it’s likely you’ll have a moment where you can’t find enough kindling in the dark, or it turns out your tent is missing some parts,” Foley says.
Who among us haven’t had to solve a problem when we’re RV camping? Rare is the trip when we don’t have to fix something. Honestly, as much as a pain that can be when we’re in the moment, my Neanderthal self feels exhilarated when the problem has been solved.
It’s as if I’m beating my chest, and declaring: “I am a pioneer taking my family and all our belongings into the Great Frontier in a motor home, and I am capable!”
Or something like that.
“These moments are for problem solving — the kind you wouldn’t normally do at the office or on your day off,” Foley says. “Camping won’t just get your body going, it will get your brain going, too.”
I couldn’t agree more!
3. It makes you cook for yourself
This one’s a no-brainer. Cooking while camping produces some of the best meals we’ve ever enjoyed. Hobo pies, steaks marinated for 24 hours, corn on the cob smothered in butter and covered in tinfoil, s’mores, dutch oven sausage casseroles, monster breakfasts of eggs, bacon, waffles and biscuits and gravy — what’s not to love?
Foley adds that “a camping trip will require you to choose the food you’re going to bring. Choose healthy foods that will give your body good energy while you’re camping. You will need that real strength to be alert outside. You have to decide what to eat, which means that you’re more likely to make a healthier choice than if you ate out at the restaurant.”
Campfire meals are always better than a restaurant. (Addendum: Unless it’s raining, then it’s time to find a mom-and-pop restaurant; never a national chain). And, since we’re able to bring all our meals with us in our travel trailers, we not only eat better we eat healthier, too.
4. It keeps you in the moment
Foley says when we’re camping, we must “be attentive to your surroundings.”
“From the time you pitch the tent to when you stand on the edge of a canyon, you’ll need all your faculties,” she says. “Weather, good camp sites or just a safe water source — these are the things you’ll need to be on the lookout for. You can’t be anywhere else when you’re climbing a steep hill or trying to build your fire for the night. Travel in the outdoors demands the attention of the traveler. The more present you are mentally, the more relaxed you’ll become, making a camping trip the best vacation you’ve ever had.”
To paraphrase: camping simplifies life.
We’re not worried about anything other than where we’re at and what we’re doing. The bills, work, all those things that can weigh us down in the real world are distractions we don’t have to worry about when we’re camping.
5. It gets your body moving
“Your body needs exercise, and if you don’t exercise regularly hiking and camping can be great ways to do so,” Foley says.
Lord knows I could use more exercise. I suspect I’m not alone.
When we camp, we typically will select a state park or private campground that has trails that we can hike or bike. I’m sure for those of us with toy haulers, you’d say the same thing about ATVs or motorcycles. Almost always we come back from one of those trips having seen something new or interesting. It’s amazing how Mother Nature can provide those moments, if only we’d just slow down and pay attention to them.
6. It takes you away from digital screens
Foley says “digital screens like TVs, computers, kitchen clocks, lamps, and smartphones all disturb the release of natural melatonin in our bodies at night.”
Basically, without the artificial light of digital screens, she said we’ll sleep better.
As I mentioned last week, when we camp we have a no-technology rule – no televisions, iPods, iPhones, iPads, gaming systems, etc. I love that rule. It forces us to look at each other. You know, like back in the old days when to talk to someone you actually had to look them in the eye and say something.
Wouldn’t it be nice if there was more of this, and less of the other?
7. It keeps you humble
“We’re just one species on a big planet, and being in the outdoors is a great reminder of that,” Foley says.
“No matter the geographical location, there are all kinds of insects, ground animals, fish, or larger creatures. There might be oceans, mountains, or a desert. No matter what the landscape, it will be bigger and older than you and if it could talk it would probably know a lot more than you. Appreciate nature and the outdoors for what they are. Breathe in the cold air and drink coffee, and get in touch with proper circadian rhythms.”
I’m not sure what “circadium rhythms” means and, truthfully, I slept through my Philosophy 101 class in college, so I’ll just take Foley’s word for it on this one.
I will say this: I cannot wait for my first view of Yosemite Valley. I expect that to be a religious experience. And if that gets me in touch with my circadium rhythm, then I’m all in.
8. It creates a healthier social atmosphere
Foley says “outdoors on a trip with friends or family is the perfect time to interact face to face.”
Again, disconnect from the distractions of the real world and reconnect with each other.
But Foley goes on to say “the camping group must act as a team during many parts of the trip. The team mentality brings everyone together in order to build camp at the end of the day or make a decision about which trail to follow at the fork in the road. There are no emails or texts that need to be sent during dinner or over the campfire; interaction can be organic and human. Everyone can enjoy the outdoors together on a camping trip.”
I couldn’t agree more with this. When we’re camping with others, we’re all about doing things together — cooking, eating, playing, gathering around the campfire and enjoying each other’s company. Nothing better than all that!
Thanks C.E. Foley for eight wonderful reasons why we enjoy camping!
See you next week,
Gr8LakesCamper celebrates the world of RV Camping in the Great Lakes region. Gather around the campfire and share tips, ideas and stories on RVing, camping and travel destinations. Follow Gr8LakesCamper on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and the Gr8LakesCamper blog.
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