By Amanda Wilkes:
Camping has always been one of my favorite weekend getaways. From the time I was a young child until literally last weekend, I have been camping several times each year. There are so many things that continually excite me about camping.
For now, it is just my boyfriend, myself, our fur baby, and usually some friends and family who join us on our weekend adventures; however, I know somewhere down the line it won’t just be our furry baby, but hopefully a few two-legged babies! That may be a little far off, but I know that camping will continue to be a major part of our lives, no matter how many babies we have — furry or not! Let me try to explain my endless love for camping….
An Absolute Blast for the Entire Family
Even with our small family of three, we always have the best time! Our puppy especially loves being able
to get extra dirty when he’s playing, then rinsing off in the creek or ocean. Afterward he sleeps like a baby. I love it when our niece and nephews, brothers and sisters, and moms and dads come with us because we can really see the entire family unite. Time spent together is scarce for most of us on a day-to-day basis, but when camping, everyone is in one place together and forced to spend quality time. An entire weekend of cooking together, playing together, fishing together, hiking together, and sitting around a campfire together, makes memories that otherwise would be void if we didn’t take the time out to be with one another.
Respect for Nature
Each time we experience hiking, fishing, collecting wood for the fire, or gazing up at the stars, we gain an elevated respect for and perspective of our beautiful Mother Earth. She has so much to offer, and I cannot express my gratitude for the excited expressions that come across our niece’s and nephews’ faces when they see a full size buck, or catch and release a rainbow trout. It’s as if they realize how much more is out there than the typical everyday things they see.
Physical and Mental Health
If you ever have had a long, exhausting week at work, which I’m pretty sure we all have experienced, then you know the draining feeling that Friday night can exude. I get the feeling that many of us come home and pour ourselves a glass of wine, order takeout, and end up watching mindless television until we fall asleep only to wake up on the couch at 3 a.m. with a stiff neck and backache, which is absolutely the last thing we need.
Now, instead of that less than ideal situation, imagine coming home on Friday afternoon, packing up your car, truck, SUV, or trailer, and heading out for the open road! Every time I know that I’m going camping at the end of the week, it brightens each day leading up to it! Once you are on the road, you feel free, alive and ready for any adventure that might come your way! I promise that once you are sitting around the warm campfire, with the bright stars shining overhead, your sense of relaxation makes you feel nearly weightless.
If camping is that beneficial for adults, imagine what it could do for children, as they are still learning about relaxing and taking time to hear the quiet. Plus, it has been scientifically proven that camping is beneficial to physical and mental health — why argue when you can experience it for yourself?!?
There is nothing like a good, warm meal at the end of a long day in the great outdoors. I never see our niece and nephews eat the way they do after a day of camping; they don’t even throw a fit about the “healthy stuff”! When camping, we all learn to appreciate the little things like a warm fire, a freshly toasted s’more, a river or lake to jump into after a long, hot hike, or a cozy warm sleeping bag to snuggle in before we drift off for one of our best nights’ sleep.
Building Self Esteem and New skills
When setting up camp, it’s important to include everyone so that you develop a sense of community and each person takes pride in the part they had. This means the little ones, too! Have them help you collect wood for the fire, set up chairs, put out a rug, make a bed, set up a tent, roll out a sleeping bag, etc. Maybe keep just the axe work and boiling water to the adults! The kids in our family have learned to be pretty self-sufficient when it comes to camping. They have also learned how to use a fishing pole, bait a hook, build a fire (before it is lit), ride a quad, know when apples are ready to pick, and so much more! Now, I know I’m biased, but I think they are excelling in life, and camping has been a huge contributor to the little humans they are today and who they will be in the future!
As we all know, traveling is EXPENSIVE! Plane flights, hotel/motel rooms, eating out, excursions, souvenirs and so much more! Camping simplifies all of that: all you really need to camp comfortably is a car, tent, sleeping bags, food and water. Now, I must admit that we are not that simplistic of campers, but it is doable!
It isn’t very often anymore that we get true quality family time when we aren’t at least slightly distracted by an e-mail, phone call, or something flashing by on the T.V.
When you’re camping, you get a real opportunity to disconnect from the fast paced, ever going, technological world we live in. My favorite thing is when we get to a campsite and there is no cell service — talk about freedom! As you and your family spend time disconnected from the digital world, you will begin to see how truly enjoyable it is to spend time connecting with one another.
Do you love camping? Where do you go, and what do you and your family love to do while in the great outdoors?