Friday, 15 May 2015

5 Reasons Why Camping Can Bring You Happiness

The Great Outdoors is not for everyone. It’s raw, dirty, and you're exposed to the elements. And there are bugs. Fortunately for us, we chose the right time of the year and did not encounter one mosquito. The flies at times were a tad annoying, especially in the desert.

No matter how rugged (or fancy) your outdoor adventure, there are qualities about camping we won't find elsewhere in one complete package. What could be better than that? If you’re a camping veteran, you know what I’m talking about. If you’re new to the scene, grab your backpack, you’re going to love this.

We are now 5 days back from our 6 day adventure up North. I have finally caught up on all the laundry and cleaning and packing away of camping gear. As I have gone about each of these tasks, fond memories and feelings of gratitude come to mind as I empty beach sand from the pockets of shorts and sleeping bags and...everywhere! Camping is connecting with nature and can bring you so much happiness!

Slowing Down
As soon as you hit your campsite, it’s like time has been reset. Setting up your “new living space” can be a meditative process. Yes, it is slightly challenging with small children. Our two big boys were able to manage Baby P whilst Mr Man and I set up camp. She probably ate a few too many honky nuts, but that's the fun of camping, the rules get relaxed a little. Cooking food outside forces you to slow down. I loved our early morning toast and french press coffee from our little gas burner stove. We would all sit around in camp chairs rugged up from the early winds blowing in cold off the desert, munching toast and watching the sun come up over the trees. And the birds, such sweet songs. The simple act of sleeping outside can bring about a symphony of sounds that even the best app can’t mimic.

Quality Time
This is by far the best thing about camping. It’s THE reason to go camping - even if you go alone. Quality time can come in many forms: hiking, building sand castles, fishing, throwing rocks in the water, etc. Whether you have small children or not, you can collect rocks, leaves and nuts and seeds, shells, or whatever else you find in your travels. It’s a sliver of time where you can truly connect with family, friends, and remember yourself. And the absence of electricity makes for great conversation as you reconnect over games of cards or colouring in by the halogen lamps.

At first glance, camping doesn’t seem creative. But nothing could be further from the truth. The second you start planning your trip the creativity begins. It forces you to think about how you’re going to accomplish normal everyday tasks, like cooking. Mr Man and I began collecting our camping gear and adding to it over a couple of months. We bought 3 large 60L storage containers and separated all the items. One was for food (dry goods), one for cooking equipment and plates etc and the other for camping gear - ropes, batteries, torches etc. And the creativity doesn’t end until the moment you leave (when you have to get creative about how you’re going to repack everything - including your newly found, nature-y loot). Journaling, painting, even singing and playing guitar around the campfire allows the creative sparks to fly.

Appreciation in the Little Things
It should go without saying that roughing it in the bush or sand dunes for a few days puts things in perspective. While sleeping under the stars is enjoyable, there is nothing like returning home to your comfy bed. Ditto for basic daily amenities - like showers and electricity. A camping trip is an opportunity to observe the small details of life and those around you.

Healthy Habits
It’s only natural to pick up extra activities when visiting the great outdoors. Walking, hiking, and fishing along with surfing, kayaking, and swimming, camping encourages all sorts of healthy activities. Often these activities have a way of following you home and leading into other forms of self care. You may find new healthy habits popping up, whether it’s finding a new local hiking trail or fishing more. In our beautiful South West town, we have several amazing coastal spots available for weekend camping trips. We have made a commitment (weather pending) to get out and camp in our area more regularly, and plan for a longer camping adventure further away in Spring.

Camping comes with a handful of challenges like getting the baby to sleep in a kinder tent in the family tent and how to perfectly toast a marshmallow, but it’s also the perfect opportunity to enjoy your family, and everything nature has to offer. And THAT can bring you happiness.

I'd love to know what you love about camping and when you last went and where.

Nic Nurtures

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