As I type, I’m laying in my tent listening to the sound of persistent, pounding rain. I’ve been camping in Madras, Oregon with my family for the last few days, and while getting stuck in a rain storm isn’t number one on my list of hopes and dreams, I have thought of a new list while I’ve been here. Each day has provided me with a moment that I consider to be an essential experience to have while camping. These are the moments that make you realize what camping is all about, and why we leave the comfort of our homes and our beds to sleep in a sleeping bag under a tent.
1. Watch the sunset (from the highest vantage point possible).
No two sunsets are the same, and in my opinion there is nothing more stunning than a pink and purple sky. If possible, watch it without taking a million pictures. Look at the sky, not your smartphone, and take the moment in.
2. Sit outside in the dead of night and look at the stars.
If you’re like me, you like your camping spots as far removed from the city as possible. This means a lack of city lights, which means an abundance of beautiful stars. No night sky compares to the one you’ll see from your campsite in the middle of nowhere.
3. Appreciate the wildlife.
No matter how many times I see a deer hanging out in the field next to my tent, I still get excited every single time. If you live in the city as I do, it’s not every day you get to see animals like deer, bunnies, goats, horses, etc. Enjoy the wildlife, and respect that you’re in their territory.
4. Have a campfire and roast some stuff.
Campfires are the quintessential camping experience. I love everything about them; the warmth, the smell, the way the flames dance. Smores made with Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups don’t hurt the experience either.
5. Go to sleep/wake up with the sun.
Without the distraction of the TV or the internet, camping is the ideal time to listen to your internal clock. If you’re tired at 9 p.m., go to sleep! Odds are you will wake up bright and early feeling rested and ready to take on
6. Bask in the silence.
Ah, silence. Another thing I often take for granted. Sometimes it’s quite wonderful to sit in the campsite and do nothing but listen to the quiet. It’s next to impossible to find a completely quiet moment anywhere else, so if you find one on your camping trip, focus on it, and appreciate the rarity.
7. Catch up on your reading/crosswords/sudoku etc.
Camping is the perfect time to catch up on those leisurely activities that we often feel we don’t have time for at home. Reading is one of my favorite things in the world, but it often takes a backseat to work, and other duties. This is why for most of my camping trip, you can find me posted up in a chair with a book in my hand.
8. Act like a kid again
Play games! Get out the ladderball, card games, horseshoes etc. and challenge your friends and family members. Get dirty. Run in the fields. Walk around barefoot. Ride your bike. Do all of those things that you did shamelessly as a child, and do them with reckless abandon!
Going camping is something that I will always make time for. It’s different than any other trip or vacation we can take. It’s your time to connect with nature, your loved ones, and yourself. It’s the time to get back to basics, to live simply, and appreciate those bare necessities. Next time you get a few days off, pack up the tent, find a patch of land, and set up camp, literally.