6 Reasons to Grab Your Sleeping Bag (if the thrill of adventure isn't enough)
Now that the cool weather is setting in, it's time to break out the sleeping bags and marshmallows. Camping has been a part of my life since childhood and I absolutely crave it. For a short time, as the dry, autumn leaves rustle beneath your feet, nothing else matters.
For some, however, they can't imagine why anyone would want to sleep on the hard ground, smell like smoke, potentially freeze at night and pee behind a tree. Allow me to explain:
1. Hits the reset button in your brain
According to Hilarie Cash, executive director of the reStart program, "The vast majority of the American population is mildly addicted to technology..." Our eyes (and consequently, our minds) are glued to our devices. While practical in modern society, it isn't always healthy. Camping allows your brain to metaphorically hit the reset button allowing you to think clearer, become less of a jerk, focus better and chill out for a minute (check out the Quiet Place Project).
2. Rekindles an appreciation for natural beauty
When was the last time you sat on the back porch and just watched the sun set? Do you even have a back porch? When was the last time you sat around a camp fire with friends and just let the dancing flames hypnotize you? When was the last time you went somewhere where there was no light and marveled at the immensity of space? When was the last time you climbed a tree, swam in a lake, picked a wildflower or caught a lightning bug?
We're forgetting the simple joys that accompany simple things. It's time to rediscover.
3. Nurtures a spirit of gratitude
Recently, I heard a speaker tell a story about a trip he took to a remote village where over 600 families shared a single spring of water (that produced less water than if you turned your faucet on all the way) an hour away from their huts. Upon his return trip home, he counted the places that water ran in his house... 17 places (showers, toilets, sinks etc.). And overseas, 600 families fought to fill up one jug (smaller than the amount of water it takes to flush your toilet one time) for the day.
When we remove ourselves from the abundant conveniences of life, it tends to foster an appreciation for those very things. How blessed are we to have such resources at our fingertips?
4. Helps you remember that life is about more than your job
It's becoming increasingly difficult for modern Americans to mentally disconnect from their work upon coming home. For some reason, we associate work as being the most important structure of our lives, around which we plan, schedule, budget, travel, play and think. Sadly, that has resulted in a lack of awareness of other, potentially more meaningful, experiences in life. Take this camping trip as a time to distance yourself from that sphere of your life for a temporary amount of time and enjoy your family and your friends.
5. Resets your biological clock
It has been proven that camping resets your biological clock allowing you to go to bed sooner and wake up earlier. While sleeping outdoors, we submit ourselves to the limitations of light - when it gets too dark to do anything our bodies say, "Hey, it's time for bed!" and when the sun rises our bodies say, "Wake up sleepy-head!" At home, the convenience of lights anytime, anywhere we want them tends to trick our brain into staying up as late as we like simply because we can.
6. Relieves stress
According to research, being outdoors, surrounded by nature, helps to relieve stress. Perhaps not entirely, but significantly enough to help you relax and refocus. Go stand in the midst of a forest, watch the dappled sunlight burst through the leaves, listen to the birds chirp and breathe.
Hopefully, you've begun to see the benefits of camping and how you can leverage this time away from "real life" to gain a better appreciation for living. Perhaps, we can go camping together someday! Whatever the case, may the wind be at your back, the smoke stay out of your eyes and your coffee taste just as good with the grinds floating around in it.