There is nothing like camping if you want to immerse yourself in the great outdoors. You play, eat and sleep outdoors. Personally, camping allows me to venture off the beaten path and experience places and peoples that I would otherwise miss. I love to cook over an open fire and then sit and watch the stars after a day spent playing, hiking, biking, swimming, paddling, etc outdoors. I sleep better in a tent, breathing fresh air all night than I do any where else. It’s a unique experience with time to simply be in touch with a part of myself that gets shut out by the noise of everyday life.
Sadly it’s an experience that seems to be going by the wayside in our society. Studies show that attendance at State and National Parks is declining. Fear of the outdoors and inexperience with camping is cited as the obstacles for 19-34 year olds. They didn’t learn how to play outdoors and as a result it’s easier for them to keep their children indoors. Kids growing up today live indoors and on concrete. Computers and video games have replaced your mother’s command to “go outside and play.” Their safe play zone is a mere one city block from their home, many can’t even get to a tree in that amount of space. They have lost touch with nature and at the same time with that part of their very core that longs for that connection. They don’t know how to sit and look at a lake, wait for a fish to bite, drift along in a canoe. They have never learned how to be outdoors, at one with nature.
Camping is an easy and fun way to get outdoors. It’s the ultimate break from “real life” but it doesn’t have to be hard. The first thing to remember is that camping is safe! And once you make the commitment to get outside for the weekend you will want to do it over and over again.
Camping has come a long way from heavy canvas tents and wilderness trekking. Everything is now light weight and the park systems have easy access to drive in camping spots. With the new camp stoves and cook wear you won’t even miss your kitchen. There are showers and bathrooms available for a short walk and a park ranger on hand if you have any questions. Folding chairs, sleeping mats and warm sleeping bags make for lots of campsite comfort. If you want to “hike in” to really get away from it all you can do it with a light weight pack filled with light weight gear and freeze dry food.
In the past few years I’ve enjoyed getting off the beaten path to camp and backpack here in Minnesota as well as far away in Washington, Montana, Belize, and Espiritu Santo in the Sea of Cortez. Some have been tours booked with professional guides, some backpacking hikes to remote areas and others simply car camping along mountain streams. All have been quiet, peaceful retreats with time just for “being” no cell phones or computers allowed.
So check your calendar, plan a weekend, reserve your campsite and get out to sleep under the stars.