By Whitney Klenzendorf
Camping: an activity where you pack up all your things in a car, drive to an open piece of land, unpack all of the things you just packed an hour ago, make a temporary home out of a small tent, use public restrooms, sweat, and then at the end of the weekend, pack it all back up and head home.
Appealing, isn’t it?
But in the end, it wasn’t the experience of hauling a spatula into the woods that made camping one of America’s most beloved past times. There are bigger, better reasons why so many people love camping. Without fail, every time I go camping, a moment always comes along when I feel buoyed by the combined forces of the camping experience and say to myself, Why don’t I do this more often?
You could say I love camping for the stars, the scenery, or the s’mores (talk about motivation!), but I believe the motivation is deeper than that.
What to Love About Camping
1. It’s a simple experience, and the simplicity is a healthy change from everyday life. You are required to pare life down to the simplest of things, only that which you need for a few days. When you arrive, you have your small amount of things, but you are surrounded by this big landscape, which dwarfs you and your possessions and any issues you may be facing at home or work.
2. Kids love it. I love watching kids run around a campsite and get engaged in activities they normally wouldn’t have the opportunity to partake in. Of course it’s important for kids to get outdoors so they will learn about the natural world, but I also think the simple freedom that comes with being outside is an important experience for them. Finally, it’s ok for them to get wet and muddy and stay that way all day!
3. Intense, unparalleled bonding. I’m a social being, so I love how close this activity brings me to my fellow campers, but those seeking solitude also benefit from the bonding that occurs when camping—both with God, or the spiritual being you believe in, and with oneself. My solitary moments in nature have given me the most powerful bonding moments with God I’ve ever experienced, by seeing his incredible creation around me and by having the quiet moments to listen to Him.
On the social front, it is no coincidence that the majority of my most treasured moments with friends and family—many which occurred over two decades ago but which stick out in my mind today with crystal clarity—were outside.
Backpacking with my family in the Rocky Mountains when I was just five or six, sleeping out in the open under the stars at camp, racing horses through apple orchards with my friend Leila, camping in state parks with my sister and brother in laws and their daughters, or even times as simple as sitting on a dock fishing with my grandfather, all are treasured memories. I know that the highlight reel of my life (the real highlight reel, not just the “highlight reel” of social media) includes these moments.
And, as anyone who has ever set up a tent with another person knows, you can’t not get to know someone when you set up a tent with them! Just try it and you will know what I mean. (Same goes for field dressing an animal together…you can’t help but experience a kinship over a such a unique experience.)
I hope you feel encouraged to try camping, and if you need tips feel free to check out the “Glamping” section of Whit’s Wilderness. May you have many fun camp outs in your future.