Going camping was the last on my to do list this summer. Who wants to give up the soft bed, clean sheets, shower, full length mirror, processed food and most importantly – cell phone! But because I am trying to be that person, who plans and actually does things – checks things off the list, I decided to go camping.
Me and a couple of my friends ventured out to Pennsylvania, to the “secret” location, or so we thought. (Had a couple of hikers come by to look at the view, which indeed is spectacular). To get to the camping ground we had to walk for an hour and a half, carrying all of the food, water, tents and sleeping bags with us. Nobody said camping was easy but boy was it rewarding! Here is what I realized about camping and why I recommend everyone to do it.
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1. Connect with nature
Life in the woods is so simple and so carefree. After my phone died and the extra batteries to charge the phone died also, I had nothing left to do but just be – be in the moment, look around and enjoy the beauty of the nature. Not just look, but see. The first 20 minutes of me laying there on the grass without a phone, computer or TV (obviously) were so boring. Once you spend half an hour doing nothing and just observing, it’s like meditation, and not the one where you sit with you eyes closed and concentrate on breathing, there you concentrate on the nature, on the sound of the wind. They say you really start burning calories after 30 minutes of exercising, I guess same goes for meditation. After just sitting/laying down there, doing nothing for about an hour, I was already connected with nature and with myself. I couldn’t ignore things that creeped into my mind and substitute them with checking Twitter or read celebrity news, I had to face those thoughts. There was no procrastination because there was nothing else to do. As I was sitting there absorbed in my thoughts, I was able to finally think of things I kept postponing. Besides, I saw a hummingbird, amazing butterfly trying to get food from the flower and a bear! (Kidding about a bear, wouldn’t be writing about this if I did).
2. Makes you humble
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You know Maslow’s hierarchy of needs where food and shelter are the first ones on the pyramid? Oftentimes we forget about those basics and complain about things like: not enough vacation days, traffic, or not being able to buy that Dolce & Gabbana bag. It makes you realize that all those things are material things which you’ll easily survive without. It is society, advertising and social media that is making us want those things. All we need is enough food to survive, a roof over our heads and good people around us.
3. Connect with people
Carrying bags of food, water and shelter for nine people for three days was not an easy task. But on the way to the camping ground, you see friends helping each other, holding each other’s hand while crossing a very shaky dangerous bridge, men being men – taking all the weight on themselves (literally). You get to build a fire together, cook food, catch fish and watch the stars. Fire in itself has a very mediative and calming effect.
4. Observe the world, take mental pictures
We are all so absorbed in our phones that when we have a minute, we choose to check Facebook or Instagram instead of just observing the world. We see something beautiful – we immediately want to take a picture. How about taking a mental picture? That’s going to be more memorable because a photo can’t translate the feeling, the atmosphere, the moment. Seeing starry skies is not usual in New York so it really was special to see the star fall. (Turns out, it’s not an actual star that’s falling but rock and dust called meteoroids falling into the Earth’s atmosphere and burning up.) Ah, how I wanted to take a picture of that beautiful sky but of course, my phone was dead. I just embraced the experience and now I remember it so much better than I would have if I took a picture.
5. Eat simple and natural food
Going camping, you know that you need the essentials – a tent, plain food like potatoes, meat, some veggies. You don’t take snacks and chips and soda, can’t buy a slice of pizza or a burger. That’s a great experience in itself, where you have no temptations, no need for money. It’s a perfect way to clean your body from all of the processed food we consume. When you know that you have a limited supply of food, you don’t overeat, you eat for nutrition.
6. Put on less make-up
Sure I took my make-up with me but when you wake up in the woods, surrounded by bugs, dirt, limited access to water – make-up is your last priority. There is no-one to impress, everyone is in the same boat, same turf. Your face gets to rest from all the make-up we put on every day, from all the abrasive cleansers we use, from all the fumes in the city. I’m sure that the air in the Swiss alps is one of the best but if you can’t afford going to Switzerland – camping would do.
7. Plastic, oh so much plastic
We hear people talk about pollution, global warming, that we use way too much plastic that doesn’t biodegrade, that chemicals which are added to plastic are absorbed by human bodies. We know that so many things are made of plastic but what’s another toothpaste tube or a yogurt cup. When we went camping, I realized how much plastic we use simply because there was none around. Click here and follow this page to see how plastic effects ours lives and leads to global warming.
Sometimes we just need to step back, to get out, to look at the global picture from a primitive perspective. It will make you realize what’s most important in life, what we take for granted, and that life goes on without you checking Facebook.