“If you have never spent a night under the stars, then you have never truly lived.” Joey Holmes
Yes, a bold and somewhat controversial statement and yes, I just went there! But I love camping so much, that I really do believe that EVERYONE can not only benefit from camping, but enjoy it too. Agreed, it can be cold and wet, you might have noisy neighbours who keep you up all night, the toilets might get blocked, rodents might get into your food, or you might just get bored. But there’s a risk of all of those things happening on any vacation or even in your own home! For me, all of the negatives that come with cosying up in the corner of a muddy field, under nothing but a thin tent canvas, are well worth the endless positives that make me happier than (almost) anything else in the world.
Why I love camping so much
So if you have yet to venture into the world of sleeping bag snoozing (and are still reading!), then please, read on to find out why camping is so blooming great, why I love camping so much, and why it might just be right up your street too…
1Have a health boost
There’s no getting away from the necessity to use your body a lot more whilst camping than in everyday life. From the moment you set your wellies in the mud to the moment you haul your aching muscles into the car to go home, you will be moving, in one way or another. And if you’re not, then your body will be working harder than normal to regulate it’s own temperature, thus using up more energy. Even the laziest of loungers out there will find it hard to resist getting involved in some kind of silly camping game that involves moving more than just your drink to your mouth. There are a ton of proven health benefits to spending time in the outdoors, so for more information take a read of the health benefits of camping.
2Get some headspace
It’s not just our physical health that benefits from time out in the wild. Camping also provides the perfect opportunity to clear the mind from everyday chatter, often without even knowing it. I love nothing more than getting out on a hike where my only mental challenge is to get from A to B without getting lost. In our modern world of constant overstimulation, it has become something of a necessity for me to get away from it all at least once a month. If you’re serious about getting more headspace then I highly recommend the Headspace app which can help you develop some simple habits that you can then practice at camp!
People watching is a wonderful way to kill time – I love peaking into tiny snippets of other people’s lives, watching how they interact, how they have fun. People watching at the beach is always entertaining, but put a load of civilised city folk in a field and watch them fight to survive for a weekend, and you’ll be amused for the rest of the day – the ultimate reality TV show. I like to do it with other people and take casual bets on how things will pan out. But make sure you master the art of discretion before you go losing friends before you’ve even made any.
4Have an adventure
To me, there are many ways of defining adventure, from crossing the Antarctic unsupported to climbing a tree in your backyard. Having done some pretty exciting adventures in my time, I love the fact that sleeping in a tent is still as exciting as it was when I was 8. For me, the adventure comes from stepping outside of the norm, be it in the great outdoors or not. And whether you choose to seek out a path less followed or just embark on something you’ve never done before, you’re adventuring! Camping in itself is, and always will be, an adventure, and one I intend to share with other people until I can no longer get into my sleeping bag.
5Bring out your inner child
Perhaps it’s the fact that as a child, everything was an adventure. So when I get adventuring as an adult, there’s a lovely reminiscence of childhood memories that puts an extra spring in my step. It also brings out a need to play games constantly and I start to see things in a simpler, more child-like way. I once spent a whole evening comparing the dying embers of the campfire, to the chubby stubs of cheesy wotsits, only to turn on the flashlight and see nothing but grey ashes! Camping with kids is guaranteed to get my imagination running wild and it’s easy to while the hours away stalking the Indians in the woods with my niece.
Now I’m not suggesting that you turn your vacation into some sort of military operation, merely hinting at the fact that things are way easier, and a lot more fun, when you do them with someone else. Pitching a tent is an obvious example of when teamwork in genuinely required, and it can be a real test of any relationship (queue watching other people try to do this!). So whether you like it or not, you’ll be learning some essential team building skills which, I highly recommend approaching with an open mind!
I don’t think there is any better way for a family to enjoy a holiday together than camping. The reality of it means that not only do the kids have a giant playground to explore, but camping also forces families to spend quality time together, without the distractions of phones or TV. There is time to chat over dinner about the adventures of the day, and plan more fun for the rest of the trip. Time to sing campfire songs together and play silly games. Time to help each other with the chores – because even chores are fun at camp! For busy families, camping allows for some togetherness that just doesn’t happen in everyday life – yet another side to the adventure.
8Wide open spaces
During the years that I lived in London, I was always struck by the impact that seeing a horizon would have on me. Such a simple pleasure. It didn’t matter what the view was, but the ability to see further than the houses across the street, evoked a huge sense of freedom and space within me that reminded me that there is life outside of the city after all. So you can probably imagine the impact that a weekend camping out in the wild has on my senses. In recent years, I have taken to camping without a tent in wild and deserted places. Pure bliss and ultimate freedom. But if that’s not quite your thing then I highly recommend visiting a high landmark at sunrise every now and then – even if it’s just your local city park.
9Notice and appreciate the small things
I’m a bit of a geek when it comes to camping. The inner Girl Guide in me likes to rear her organised head, and having a campsite that is just so warms my heart more than it probably should. It’s always the small things that get me the most: a neatly swept tent porch, or a well-rolled tent door. The chairs being arranged around the campfire nicely and of course a ring of well-laid stones around that fire. But it’s not just my OCD tendencies that keep me smiling. I love the sound of the tent being unzipped in the morning, the crackle of the campfire and the sizzling of cooking bacon. Wearing wellies with my pajamas, the smell that comes after you strike a match and the feel of fresh air on my face, constantly. I’m sure there are loads of little things in everyday life that would give me as much satisfaction – if only I took the time to notice them.
10Eat amazing food
It wouldn’t be proper camping without a big old BBQ to finish the day, and it is the one time when it is genuinely OK to be caught with at least three types of meat on your plate. All that fresh air and energy exertion makes camping meals seem extra tasty, and it’s also the perfect excuse to try new ways of cooking some fun and delicious recipes that may (or may not) be a little on the indulgent side. Take a look at these campfire dessert ideas to get your juices flowing.
11Learn something new
I don’t think a lifetime of outdoor living would be long enough to truly learn everything about how to survive and thrive in the wild. I love all the new skills that can be learned, from stick whittling and campcraft, to learning how to gut a fish or finding new ways to fend off the weather! And then I love imparting my knowledge to others to help them enjoy it all too. There is also a load of things I learn about myself during camping trips – and about other people. Things that would never come out during a week’s holiday sitting on the beach.
12Never miss a sunset or sunrise
I never get up in time for sunrise if I’m in my own bed. Even if I know it’s going to be a gorgeous morning, my duvet is always too warm and cosy to crawl out of any earlier than I need. But when I’m camping, waking up is so much easier when the sunrise is right at your feet. I always pitch my tent with where the sun will rise in mind. Then I can just unzip my tent and watch it from the comfort of my toastie sleeping bag. Equally, it’s all too easy to let sunsets go unnoticed or unappreciated in everyday life. There’s always something more important going on. But when I’m camping, the sun gets busy setting at just about the same time as I pop open a cool beer and settle into my camp chair! Heaven.
13Disconnect from your device
A recent study found that the average person checks their mobile device 85 times per day. 85 times?! That’s around 5 times per waking hour, based on a 16 hour day, or once every 12 minutes. What are we really going to miss out on in that time? So if you’re looking to break away from the shackles of constant and instant connection, I suggest a weekend camping – without a charger! You’ll definitely feel lost without it to start with, but it’s surprising how little you miss it once you get used to it, and most things can wait. I like to use a real camera and a proper paper map. I bring a book to read instead of the internet, and play cards with a human being. Sure, I’m right back to my old habits on Monday morning, but the temporary disconnection slows everything down and leaves me feeling much more relaxed – for a little while at least.
There’s nothing like star gazing to totally remove you from the worries of everyday life. Sitting around a campfire always evolves into lying back and contemplating the universe. But I think the best time to really appreciate the canopy of stars is when nature calls in the middle of night. Although somewhat annoying initially, climbing out of the comfort of my sleeping bag is well worth the effort for the incredible display of twinkling stars that greet me. And even better, I get to enjoy it all to myself.
15Create lasting memories
And finally, with all the action of camping, the newly learned skills, playtime and downtime, indulgent meals, nurtured relationships, physical exertion and increased headspace, it really is unavoidable that lasting and happy memories will be made every time you get out camping. I have great recollections of almost every camping trip that I have been on and can’t wait for the many many more that will be made in the future.
So hopefully you can see why I love camping so much? And if that has helped you get a step closer to your new life of camping, then gather up some friends, beg, borrow or buy some camping gear, and get out there to see just what you’ve been missing out on all these years!