Camping: We’re Worth It!

 

You’re sitting in a canoe in the middle of a river surrounded by trees and dark, cool water full of living things like water lilies, a flock of floating geese, fish and bugs. The sky is bright and blue. You look around and something feels off. You can’t see a street or a car. You can’t see a telephone pole with wires stringing across the sky. You can’t see them because they aren’t there. You’ve set off on an adventure with no cell phone.

Paddling down a river to a beautiful New England island is an easy way to leave the world behind. I’ve done it, and I want to encourage you to consider taking a night or weekend to unplug from your technology and your life, and explore this beautiful world that you are a part of.

We spend so much time focused on screens that we need to give our brains a break. We’re worth it! Being in nature can reduce stress, and turning off our constant connection to others can allow us a moment to breathe, reflect and look inward. Camping is a relaxing form of escape. It’s also an economical one, so your wallet can breathe easy, too. It’s not too hard to make camping comfortable — I don’t like sleeping on the ground, so I plan ahead and bring what I need to make me happy. Here are my tips for a first timer:

  • Borrow equipment for your first time out to save money, but be sure to test everything in your living room or backyard prior to your departure so you can figure out how to set up your tent or blow up your mattress. You will also be able to make sure your mattress doesn’t leak. When you’re at your campsite, be sure to build camp before it gets dark.
  • Plan and prepare your food ahead of time. Everyone says it because it’s so important. The more you prepare ahead of time, the less you will have to clean, and that’s good because it’s harder to wash things in the woods. You’ll also save time cooking, and you can make some delicious meals. Instead of packing your favorite spices, put them in a resealable bag with some olive oil, and toss the bag in your cooler to marinate with your meats or vegetables. My favorite things to make are campfire packets in which your meats, veggies and marinade are all pre-wrapped in a heavy duty tin foil packet. When it’s dinner time, place the packet over campfire coals. Let it cook for about 40 minutes or until the meat is cooked and veggies tender, and you’re opening this hot, delicious dinner al fresco.
  • Forget fashion, bring layers. I love clothes, but camping is less about how cool you look and more about the right clothing for the season. You’re in control of your comfort, not a thermostat. Be prepared.
  • Bring extra toilet paper in a resealable bag with matches. You want your toilet paper to be dry, and extra toilet paper can work as a starter when your fire pit/wood is a little damp.
  • Don’t pack unnecessary weight, and bring lots of water. Choose H2O and weed over heavy beer and glass bottles for your camping fun. You already smell like a campfire.
  • Buy yourself a cool headlamp. You’ll look like a dork, but you will be the happiest dork in the woods if you can find your way to the bathroom in the middle of the night.
  • Go camping with people you like. Camping is not fun with your needy, high-maintenance, super-trendy or annoying friends. Go with the chill, self-sufficient friends who have control of their lives and have the most survival skills.
  • Check the weather and go when it’s nice. Sometimes it’s worth losing the campsite registration fee to take a trip when it’s sunny and dry.

When you camp, you leave everything you find familiar behind. When you leave your phone behind, you remove yourself from your connection to others and a stream of constant information. Once you set up home base and your campfire, your basic needs of sleeping and eating will be satisfied, allowing you to wonder, be with yourself and explore inward.

You might discover how stressed you really were at work, constantly checking for new emails or returning phone calls, texts, or other messages. You might have a lot of feelings that you can notice and reflect upon in detail. It’s the same detail you will begin to notice in your new surroundings. The variety of trees, the smell and crunch of the earth, the sound the wind makes and every other new experience will calm, delight and help bring you new insight into yourself and your place in this beautiful world. Or maybe the weed will. Good luck and adventure safely.

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