Picture this: Your friends and family having a great conversation around a crackling campfire over some s’mores and hot chocolate against the backdrop of the great Yosemite National Park. Breathtaking, right? Well, on top of such picturesque moments, camping offers many other benefits.
According to the 2019 North American Camping Report, camping continues to grow in popularity all across the USA. Actually, over 1 million households have joined the party in 2018 alone bringing the total number of newcomers to a whopping 7 million since 2014.
Van life and glamping have also contributed to this aspect and even more people are expected to make camping a part of their lives in the coming years.
The National Park Services reports that the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the most visited park in the US. Over 11 million people visit the park on an annual basis.
While camping might seem like the proverbial “box of chocolates”, what with the mosquito bites fused with the freshness of nature, I believe the benefits easily outweigh the challenges. If you are skeptical about camping, then maybe my account on the “whys” might sway you to give it a try.
Firstly, camping is a great way to self-improve through learning new skills, solving arising problems, venturing into new places, and learning about nature in general.
Away from the quick google searches, I am able to tackle problems head-on and even get help on the same from other campers. I never knew how to set up a tent efficiently but fellow campers at the Little Yosemite Valley were more than helpful in imparting this new knowledge.
Camping, especially in the wilderness, will limit the supplies to carry and even help you be more prepared for extremities and emergency situations. I’m now able to prioritize what essential supplies to carry in my backpack as I embark on a backpacking trail.
Fighting off bugs, fending off the weather and even gutting a fish will be second nature once you make camping a regular habit. Being away from the busy town life will help you clear your head and, on some occasions, generate new ideas.
Other skills such as starting a fire, first aid, fishing, tying knots, cooking quick meals, and so much more learned while camping will come in handy when the robots uprising finally pushes us into the wilderness. The acquired skills may not be as “cool” as Bear Grylls’ drinking-your-own-piss kind of “cool”, but it gets pretty close.
If you have little ones, camping is one of the few outdoorsy activities that can help them learn survival skills and to some extent, soft skills.
Interestingly, a study by the University of Plymouth found that kids who camp at least once a year tend to do better at school. Camping also offers a supportive role in understanding subjects such as science, history, and geography.
Nothing comes close to food prepared over open campfires or even campsite grills. Not even home-cooked meals can hold a candle to it.
Aromatic barbecues in the sunny afternoon, bacon-eggs-and-sausages in the morning, camping coffee – it’s almost inexplicable just how enjoyable and tasty the food is while in the great outdoors. The only thing you need to consider is to plan out a great menu before heading out to your selected camping site.
Vitamin D intake can only be achieved in two ways; by taking supplements or by exposing your bare skin to ultraviolet B rays also known as sunlight. Camping is a great way to take in vitamin D as you will mostly be out in the sun for most of the day before pitching a tent for the night.
As we all know, the sunshine vitamin is responsible for quite a lot in our bodies ranging from:
It is rather alarming that up to 4.2 million deaths every year occur due to exposure to air pollution. Camping and more so in national parks seems to be the last haven for fresh unadulterated air.
Luckily, camping exposes you to environmentalist ideals such as the “Leave No Trace” outdoor ethics, which are geared towards conserving our great outdoors and in extension our environment.
Forgot to set your alarm? You can say goodbye to annoying alarms in the early morning ringing in your ear and instead wake up to birds chirping and glorious sunrises. Also, camping seems to be the answer to most sleep problems; that is if we are going by a study published in the Current Biology journal.
Studies show that our bodies follow a natural clock, the circadian rhythm, which allows it to release “sleep hormones” (melatonin) when it’s time to sleep and “wake-up hormones” (cortisol) when it’s time to wake up. The release of these chemicals is triggered by natural light and interference of which causes sleep problems such as insomnia and so on.
While the wild is never without its noisy inteferences, camping takes one away from the noise and bright lights of town life allowing one to have more restful nights. Still, there are general principles for sleeping better while out camping. If these principles are followed to a tee, it figures then that the more you camp the more quality sleep you will get.
Lastly, no healthy living is devoid of some physical exercises and camping can greatly help you on that end. Wandering through your nearest national park or simply engaging in your favorite outdoor activity is a sure way to get more exercise in your life.
Health practitioners recommend regular exercise as it helps improve one’s mood, energy levels, and overall health. The more you exercise the more you are likely to feel more confident, competent and the more positive the effects are particularly on your mental health.
Camping is a sure way to get the much-needed physical exercise; who needs gym when you got mountain climbing, hiking, kayaking, fishing and so much more?
As John Muir aptly put it in his book, The Mountains of California;
“Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop away from you like the leaves of Autumn.”
Camping provides a proven way to relieve stress from everyday hustle and bustle. In fact, you might even run into companies providing Wilderness Therapy Programs in your camping escapades.
Sleeping under the starry sky, waking up to spectacular sunrises and even partaking in stargazing moments can work wonders in relieving anxiety and stress.
Physical activities involved in camping help lower stress hormones and further promote the release of endorphins, which act as natural painkillers and are responsible for improving one’s mood.
Also, camping does provide a neutral space to hang out with friends and family. Such social support systems have been directly linked to helping people through tough times. According to a study by the University of California, spending time with loved ones was found to trigger the release of oxytocin, which is a natural stress reliever.
You will get to relax and recharge in campgrounds away from the hashtags and busy life. Getting away from your personal life, workplace, home environment or any other source of stress greatly alleviates anxiety.
In today’s overstimulated society, it is very easy to fall into a deep pit of anxiety and depression, thus it’s always advisable to take a break and brain-reset. Camping can be a good option to overcome this problem.
Dressing down as is prevalent in camping also works wonders with stress alleviation since there’s no pressure from anyone on how you look or wear. No more dress codes, no make-up or bad hair days, just limitless fun in the great outdoors.
One of the major benefits of camping is its effectiveness in developing and strengthening relationships. From romantic getaways with my significant other to team building activities, camping has always been involved in one way or another.
Campfires also provide ambient lighting as the sun sets, which is not only practical but also very romantic.
Camping together as a family or as a group of friends allows for a distraction-free opportunity to talk, make meaningful connections and lasting memories. It fosters a collaborative spirit as everyone will be able to participate in various camping activities such as pitching the tent, starting a fire, sharing stories and so on.
You will also get to interact with other campers – whom are actually some of the friendliest lot you will ever bump into, take it from me – and get to have picnics with friends and family. There will be no more social media updates to interrupt quality time with your people.
When camping, one gets to experience the sights and sounds of nature whether it be birds chirping or even the sounds of raindrops falling on the tent. Exploring new grounds unravels different scenes, flora and fauna and the close encounters with wildlife are quite exhilarating.
There’s a lot you can learn about nature when you take up camping. For instance, you will become knowledgeable about harmful plants and animals as well as how to gather and utilize what nature has to offer.
With over 13,000+ public campgrounds in the entirety of the US and Canada, you will be spoilt for choice on where to visit next. Whether you want to catch a glimpse of the wild horses on Assateague Island Campgrounds, Maryland or climb North America’s tallest peak, Mount McKinley in Denali National Park, Alaska, your options will be limited by your imagination.
Of all outdoor trips, camping still remains king in terms of saving one some few bucks as you don’t need expensive gear to set out for camp. On a shoestring budget, a backpack with essential supplies and a collapsible tent are more than enough for a short camping trip.
Annual passes are also quite a bargain and will allow you access to even the most exclusive and serene of camping spots. Budget-friendly annual passes are priced at $30 - $70. For instance, Yosemite National Park and Yellowstone National Park annual passes go for $70 while Wilson's Creek National Battlefield and Cedar Breaks National Monument are priced at $30 and $35 respectively.
A night at most campgrounds will only set you back $12 - $30, which is much less than other options. As compared to other vacation options such as hotels or self-catering accommodations, camping will still be the most affordable option.
Additionally, state and country parks provide the most value and affordability when it comes to camping as you will be assured of campsite security thanks to the park rangers on site. There will also be some basics such as a fire pit, picnic tables, charcoal grills, and parking space.
Some parks may even offer free admission days on some specific holidays. For instance, for adventures further north, most national parks have free admission on Canada Day.
Lastly, you can always take up camping right at home – playing catch in between barbeque sessions and finally pitching a tent in my backyard is always an option for my weekends. Starting at your own backyard can also be a good way to prepare for actual camping.
Wondering what to do this summer? How about taking up camping, picnicking at the national park, or hiking? Camping packs a lot of benefits when done regularly; it promotes healthy living, builds long-lasting memories and human connections, and so much more.
It’s a fun, affordable outdoor activity that can be enjoyed by everyone irrespective of age, gender, race or whatever.
Despite all else, always remember that the best conversations happen around a campfire... or so some campers say.
When he's not camping or adventuring the outdoors, you'll find him grinding hard on his keyboard to put up some super-awesome content on campingmaniacs.com. Starting off on camping escapades back in 2011, he has grown fond of the activity over the years. His exposure to a myriad of different camping terrains, gear and the outdoor atmosphere has hitherto changed his perception of the entire outdoor life. He enjoys sharing the experiences of his adventures and gear reviews with the awesome camping community on this platform. Read more about us.