Escape, Unplug, and Unwind: 10 Tips to Get You Camping Again
Spring is finally here and summer is fast approaching, and you may already be thinking of Memorial Day plans– I know my family is, because it is the official kick-off of camping season in our household.
Camping seems to be a dying pastime. People just don’t make the time to really get back to nature. And when they do, they tend to go the easy route. There’s actually a phenomenon called “glamping!” (“glamorous camping” which pairs destinations with the intimacy of camping and the world of luxury travel.) No thanks! I need to get dirty.
It doesn’t have to be a big complicated event with days of packing and taking an extra day off work when you get back. In fact, my #1 rule: DON’T plan ahead! There’s nothing like a spur of the moment road trip and sleeping under the stars!
But if you are the type that must have some sort of plan, here are some tips to make it a more pleasant adventure:
1) KEEP IT SIMPLE
You’re supposed to be getting back to nature and leaving everything behind. You can’t relax if it’s more of a chore than fun. Take just the bare necessities and of course a few emergency items. Experience tells you what you really need to lug along and what you don’t. But start with a basic checklist. You can find many online, and tailor to your own needs.
2) KEEP YOUR KIT EVER-READY
When you return from a camping trip, clean, organize, restock and repack it right away for next time. It makes it less stressful to plan a trip, and thus more likely for you to pick up and go on the spur of the moment when you find that you can!
3) MAKE IT A TECH-FREE WEEKEND
Camping is about really connecting with nature as a family. Leave the world (and cell phones/electronics) behind. I keep my phone in the car and check it only in the morning and at night for emergencies, but that’s it! The world can wait. Explore/hike, canoe, go fishing, make a scavenger hunt, play word games, tell stories. Relive what it was like before all the current distractions.
4) BRING A CAMERA
Society has gotten away from taking photos, other than on our phones…. Capture nature’s beauty…… (no selfies!) And when you get back print out a photo book of your trip or create a scrapbook. (Better yet, bring a sketch pad!)
5) TRY GEOCACHING!
It’s a great way to combine hiking with the fun of a treasure hunt! (Don’t forget to bring a little ‘prize’ to leave behind.)
6) BREAK BREAD
If camping with other groups, plan a potluck night where everyone is in charge of part of the meal. Again, it’s about connecting…. and mealtime is a natural time to bond. And if you’re not with friends, make some new ones from the camp next door!
7) TAKE A MEETING
Undoubtedly, one of the best things about camping is gathering around the campfire at night, with beverage in hand, telling stories and reliving past camping trips. It is also a great time for a “family meeting.” Time to check in with everyone, and talk serious matters when everyone is relaxed and guards are down.
8) DESTINATION UNKNOWN
Don’t just find the closest place…. dig a bit. Find something unique! Explore a part of our state that you have not been to before. We love going to Upper Sioux Agency where we canoe by day and camp in a real tipi and hear the coyotes howling nearby at night.
9) MAKE IT A MUSICAL
There are plenty of smaller festivals, or campgrounds that feature special weekend music events (vs the big crowded ones) There’s nothing like an outdoor concert on a pleasant summer evening.
10) TEST YOURSELF
Push your limits and try really roughing it (no indoor bathrooms/showers!) Hey, at least I didn’t say winter camping! Even I have my limits. Come on, you’re camping. Do you really need to look your best out in the middle of nowhere? It might just make you appreciate things back home a bit more.
In one overnight trip, I tossed my niece’s retainer in the fire, we had a raccoon trapped in our tent porch in the middle of the night, then had to tear down the tent in torrential rain, but we sure have stories to tell now!
Despite complaining about the drive, the bugs, the weather, and boredom, my kids are always asking “When can we go camping again?!” And in fact, now that one is away in college, her one requirement on her trips home are … you guessed it… that we go camping.
To sum it up – Just get out there and make memories! Good, or bad. That is what it’s all about!
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