I’ve always lived in apartment buildings in New York City. I’ve never been the outdoorsy type either, which I guess makes me a city-slicker. For a long time, the closest I had ever been to “the great outdoors” was my grandmother’s concrete backyard. Needless to say, I didn’t get to grow up camping. Maybe you relate to some or all of that. Like me, you might not have had a lot of exposure to the more natural parts of the world. For me, that changed when I went away for college.
When I decided to leave home and pursue my education, I found myself in Upstate New York. In the much less urban environment, I expanded my horizons in a variety of ways. It started with a trip to a cabin in the woods. There was so much in that trip I hadn’t previously experienced. I didn’t have cell service or wifi. The remoteness was anxiety-inducing, but also exhilarating. It was peaceful and quiet, which was different from the symphony of city noises to which I had been accustomed. The people I went with also made it memorable. That experience stuck with me through the pandemic as something that I want to explore again. However, I want to take that experience to the next level and try camping.
In our technologically driven world, a moment of peace is rare. When we aren’t at work or thinking about it, we’re immersed in the maelstrom of news, current events, and celebrity drama through social media channels. Their algorithmic designs bombard us with story after story, keeping us on the hook and scrolling through a good portion of our free time. Taking the retreat into nature through camping offers the chance to unplug from all of that. It’s healthy to get a break from our normal day-to-day routines, especially when they include so much screen time. Disconnecting from that sphere gives you the chance to reconnect with yourself, your body, and your mind.
If you’re like me and you’ve never been camping before, going out and doing that would be a novel experience. Despite the nerves, doing something you haven’t done before is new and exciting!! It is an opportunity to shift focus and potentially learn something new. You may be surprised with what you can learn about camping, nature, or even yourself. Out there in the elements, you will likely forget about all the distractions of the world because you’re forced to be mentally present and conscious of your surroundings. When you find yourself in that environment focused on surviving and appreciating nature, you may discover that you really enjoy spending time in the wilderness.
If you’re reading this and have identified with what I’ve said, I imagine you’re used to feeling comfortable. Sometimes, we need experiences that not only push us out of those comfort zones, but remind us of what else is out there and how small we really are. Stepping out of the safety of your home and spending time outdoors, admiring and experiencing nature’s more hidden gems can put so much else into perspective. Having moments where you sacrifice those creature comforts will give you more appreciation for them, as well as other things in your life.
On a more personal level, you’ll never grow if you refuse to push yourself and stay within the confines of your comfort zone. Camping is something that scares a lot of people. On some level, the idea of it scares me. It requires strength and courage to go out and be that vulnerable, especially if you’ve never done it before. Of course there are safety measures you can take to minimize any potential risks; camping does not have to be dangerous by any means, but the point still stands. That initial leap is the hardest part. I want to take that leap and see where it leads me. I hope that, after reading this, you will too.