Dinner’s over and the kids are zipped into the tent with their flashlights and books. The sun is setting and the grownups are enjoying a cup of wine by the fire. That's when it hits you: Oh, yeah. This is why I love camping.
Because camping isn't just the packing and unpacking, the cooking and tidying, the planning and the doing. Camping is a state of mind. I guess for some people it looks like a lot of trouble to go to for the honor of getting dirty, sleeping on the ground and using public toilets. But it's totally worth it, and here are ten reasons why:
1. Being outdoors 24/7 is good for your head.
Most of us spend a lot of time indoors, so being outside for a few days feels really different. It’s as though the roof and walls are taken away from our poor, boxed-in brains as well as our bodies. It’s good.
2. Nothing tastes better than food you cook and eat outdoors.
There’s probably a scientific reason why food tastes better outdoors – your senses are more receptive or something like that. All I know is that even a spoonful of peanut butter tastes delicious when you’re camping. And when you sit down to eggs and hash for breakfast, it's just about the best thing in the world.
3. You really do get away from it all.
Even the most addicted cell phone users will eventually succumb to the lure of the campfire and wander away from their devices. And when you’re not continually connected to email, FaceBook and Twitter, you connect instead to nature, your family ... your soul, for crying out loud. You can return all those calls on Monday. Just sit back and listen to the crickets chirp. Do they really rub their legs together? Discuss and debate.
4. You can be genuinely spontaneous when you’re camping.
With nothing in particular planned except maybe making a grilled cheese sandwich, it’s easy to be spontaneous. Would you like to take a nature walk and check out the trails? Sure, why not? Watch the kids play in the dirt? That sounds like a plan.
5. It’s a chance to make up your own traditions.
You will remember your camping trips forever, and the kids will remember them forever and ever! A big part of this is the peculiar family traditions that seem to sprout up and stick. (We like campfire songs and somehow always start off with “Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire.” Long story.) The easiest traditions of all are food traditions – so go ahead and make Eggs in a Bag, Spider Dogs and, of course, S’Mores. And make up some of your own camping foods and give them fun names.
|Lot 42, somewhere in New Jersey|
6. Mistakes are funny when you’re camping.
As long as you’re not setting up your tent at night in a mosquito swarm (like we once did), camping mistakes are usually more hilarious than they are annoying. Maybe it’s because you’re not in such a hurry to get to work or get the kids off to school, so it doesn’t seem like such a big deal when you:
• Forget to bring a skillet (there are so many ways to cook an egg without a pan. Try this one.)
• Don’t bring enough warm clothes for the adults (a onesie makes a nice, warm hat)
• Only bring cinnamon sugar (cappuccinos for all!)
• etc. (see more of our mistakes here.)
7. Kids learn the basics about nature.
It’s a lot easier to explain to your kids why recycling is important, or littering is bad when you have a thousand acres of open woods on hand as an example… And such lessons as, “leave the campsite cleaner than when you came” apply to all kinds of situations in life—don’t you think?
8. Grownups get to be pioneers and adventurers.
Some of us (me) like to pretend we’re Laura Ingalls Wilder in Little House on the Prairie (with a station wagon). More serious campers head into the wild to try their hands at surviving with a minimum of food and gear. Either way, it’s pleasing to think that, like our forefathers and foremothers, we might possibly have it together enough to survive in the wild.
9. You reconnect with your spouse.
With nothing much to do but hang out and chit chat in a beautiful, natural setting, there is a moment in every camping trip when one thinks, “Oh, I remember you” about one’s spouse. And every day of camping provides a small adventure to be discussed at great length, which is a lot more fun than discussing bills and grocery shopping.
10. Sitting around a campfire with your favorite people is an experience that everyone should have at least once.
The campfire is the heart of the camping experience. Gather together your friends and family, add a beautiful, starry night and a blazing fire and you've got just about everything you need in the world.
If you want to get everything you can out of the summer, consider this: camping is cheap, fun and space is available—check http://www.reserveamerica.com for the nearest, best place… and get out and go!