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Why Should You Camp?

For under $50 a day, you can wake up to amazing views,and get a chance to reconnect with nature. (Adobe stock image)

By Nushin Huq

Between 2 Pines Magazine

During Thanksgiving 2018, my family and I packed up our car, rooftop bin and all, and drove over eight hours to West Texas to camp at Big Bend. In addition to hiking and exploring the park, we also spent a large chunk of time cooking our meals, properly cleaning and clearing our campsite, pitching a tent and taking down our things.

“What’s the point?” someone once asked me about camping. That’s a fair question. Camping is work, more work than most people want to do on vacation. Plus, as I get older, sleeping on the ground isn’t kind on my hips (even with padding). Yet, as I sit here, almost three months since my last camping trip, I find myself yearning for another camping trip, another family adventure. So, what is the point?

There are many reasons why camping is the perfect family vacation.

A big one is the cost. It's true that buying gear can add up, but you can find ways to save money and accumulate over time. On the other hand, with a family of five like ours, camping is a lot less expensive than hotels. 

Consider this: A camping spot at Jenny Lake (Grand Teton National Park) is $29 a night. On the other hand, one night at Jenny Lake Lodge will set you back almost $600 a night. Ok, it's an extreme example because Jenny Lake lodge is the only National Park AAA four-diamond accommodation so it’s a lot pricier than most places you’ll rent. Even so, for $29, I was able to wake up, get out of my tent and drink my coffee at the foot of the Grand Tetons range. Afterwards, instead of looking for parking, I was able to meander my way to the lake. 

But camping isn’t just about saving money. The main reasons we camp don't have anything to do with money. There’s a calmness and relaxation that comes with getting back to basics. The essential acts that keep us alive, preparing food and finding shelter, have become secondary in our jam-packed lives, but when we go camping, these acts become front and center again.

Even when we prepare simple meals, such as hot dogs, there’s a certain ritual that we’ve lost in modern life. Same goes with putting up a tent, making it cozy and inviting inside, as well as cleaning up. When camping, these things take time. The act of living becomes front and center once again, like it did for our ancestors, and there is perspective to be gained from this.

Taking time out for a camping trip also gives you a better chance to reconnect with nature. During our trip out West or being able to camp within the borders of Big Bend, gave us more time to explore, take longer hikes and experience the park. 

The most beautiful parts of the country aren’t accessible by road. How wonderful it is that the national parks belong to all Americans. By connecting to nature and doing so with our kids, it strengthens the bond we have to the land and this country. I’m a child of immigrants, and it was heartwarming to see so many immigrant families visiting Big Bend over Thanksgiving weekend with their kids. Camping at the National Parks is an iconic American pastime.

There are also reasons to camp that are harder to articulate because they are ephemeral, such as the feeling I get when I wake up on a cold morning and I’m bundled up, nice and cozy, in my sleeping bag. I can smell the distinct scent of the fresh morning air, each breath heavy with morning dew.  

There’s the renewed sense of self-esteem I find, too. When I build my own campfire or when I am able to finish a difficult hike, I’m not worried about how I look, but I am proud of what I’ve accomplished. 

Not everyone will love camping as much as I do, but everyone should try it at least once. It might seem intimidating or daunting, but anyone can camp and most will find joy in it.

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