Camping in the Woods

A. General.

There are many benefits of camping.   A few include: outdoors improve blood pressure and digestion, and the fresh air reduces stress by releasing serotonin.  Therefore, camping in a forest is healthy. 

1. Cleaner Air.   

Many blogging sites say that plants generate oxygen, so the oxygen levels in a forest are slightly higher.   Not true.  Actual testing shows that the oxygen volume percent is the same worldwide and does not vary significantly.  However, one thing is higher in the city urban areas.  That is air pollution.  There are many pollutants in urban areas and very few in forest environments. 

2. Reduces Stress

Almost all studies have shown that camping in the forest reduces stress.  A study in South Korea showed that forest therapy reduced depression in alcoholics after nine days.  The control and treatment groups started at a BDI (Beck Depression Inventory) of 15.3.  After nine days, the treatment group had a BDI value of 5.5, while the control group measured 15.3.   That is a reduction of 64%.   There are many reasons it reduces stress—getting away from harmful factors, i.e., cell phones, television, computer terminals, traffic, the constant hum of noise, work, etc., and getting in touch with positive factors, i.e., talking with family, walking in nature, lack of noise, smelling the trees, listening to nature’s life-giving rain, getting a good night’s sleep, seeing stars in the sky, etc. 

3. Being with Family

The camping environment brings the family together for more than a few hours.  This results in talking and listening.  Children can learn about their parent’s stories of their childhood, their parents and grandparents, and how people survived without a computer or cell phone.  Parents can learn about what makes their children happy, scared, or their friends.  Sitting around a campfire telling stories and burning Marshmallows is epic and honest.  How many times did you cook a hot dog on a stick, and how did it taste? 

Practice Session.  Can you remember at least three fond stories you learned from your parents or children while sitting around a campfire? 

4. Observing Nature’s Beauty. 

Nature has boundless beauty that cannot be fully captured in photographs. The cuteness of tiny chipmunks darting under a log, the ease of birds landing on tree limbs in complete balance, or the majesty of an Elk holding its head high as it runs through a forest, are all things that can be seen in the woods “free of charge.”  The distance from a tall mountain top to the pristine lake below is breathtaking.  The thunderous crashing of an ocean wave on the beach or rock cannot be described in words.   The smoothness of sand dunes and the patterns illuminated by a sunset is only appreciated by being there.  All these things are available by simply packing up and going camping. 

This is joy.  Joy is accumulating and building blocks around those fears parked in hidden recesses of the brain every minute, every hour, and every day.  The benefits of joy are relatively easy to measure.  Count the number of significant negative thoughts you had on the day before you leave on your camping adventure.  The average is somewhere between 2 and 10 per day.  Then count the number of negative thoughts you had the day after you return.  You may be surprised that you may not have any.  Remember, a negative thought is a false thought.  It is not the same as an accurate observation or occurrence. 

B. List of Camping Sites.

All National Parks have camping sites.  Links to these National Parks are identified in the section on National Parks.  Below is a list of websites that identify the best parks for camping.   

C. General Precautions.

1. Insect Precautions. 

Always travel with a partner who will attract insects.  If you find you begin to run out of friends, then try investing in some insect repellent.  Most of the repellents contain DEET, but six ingredients are approved by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).  If you did not bring any repellent, wear long pants, tall socks, and long sleeve shirts.  There are various electrical zappers and mechanical filters that are on the market.  There are traps for flies that are particularly successful and traps for wasps.  Insect traps that emit various sound waves have not been particularly effective. 

However, camping in areas near ant nests might be your cup of tea if you want to go environmental.  Ants are very effective in killing other bugs.  Of course, the ants may be worst than the other insects. 

Dragonflies are very effective in clearing out mosquitoes eating up to 100 mosquitoes per day.  They are also very smart.  They hang around moist areas where mosquitoes breed.  Never kill a Dragonfly, but their presence may suggest a high mosquito population nearby.   

2. Animal Precautions. 

Some animals are cute and friendly but are extremely dangerous.  The Moose is a prime example.  You do not turn your back to a wolf or bear and run.    Please do not feed or pet wild animals or get between a mother bear and its cub.  It would help if you watched out for wildlife crossing the road, particularly at dawn and dusk.  When camping in a tent, it is advisable not to keep your food inside the tent. 

The National Park Service has many great tips on how to stay safe when inside the park.   The National Geographic organization has many tips in this area as well.  The Parks Expert has some valuable information on bear safety. 

3. Campfire Precautions. 

There are various tips for building and using a safe campfire.   Most of these rules are common sense.  Always have enough water available to put out the fire.  Do not build a fire if it is windy, keep the flames below 2 feet, and never leave the campfire unattended.  A campfire is almost a must for campers.  Children describe it as a time to make S’mores (a roasted marshmallow sandwiched between two graham crackers and a piece of chocolate).  

4. Do Not Get Lost. 

It is a good idea to carry a map, whistle, warm clothes, and a compass.  Do not hike or take a long walk at night.  A general rule is that all trees, mountains, creeks, and paths look the same at night.  And darkness comes early and fast in the forest.  

Have you ever noticed your pets do dislike going side in the rain?  That is an instinct because they can survive in the cold snow unless they get wet.  Therefore, if you are lost, you must keep dry. 

Many camping and hunting websites provide excellent information on what to do in the woods. 

C. Camping Connection to Healing Fear.

Can you name any other fears that may be calmed by visits camping?   Many are the same as those who frequent our National Parks.  These include helping reduce:

  • Fear of insects.
  • Fear of dogs.
  • Fear of Birds.
  • Fear of Getting Lost.

Because camping usually involves building a campfire, fears associated with accidentally starting fires or falling into a fire may be helped. 

This is not the same as a person compelled to start large fires.  Pyromania is a problem associated with the inability to control impulses.  It is a serious problem and requires professional intervention.  Studies have connected a lack of family bonding or being abused or abandoned with pyromania.