3. CAMPING

Camping in the Woods

a. General.

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

i. Cleaner Air.   

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

ii. 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 9 days.  The control group and the treatment group started out at a BDI (Beck Depression Inventory) of 15.3.  After 9 days the treatment group had a BDI value of 5.5 while the control group continued to measure 15.3.   That is a reduction of 64%.   There are many reasons why it reduces stress.   Getting away from negative 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 natures life giving rain, getting a good nights sleep, seeing stars in the sky, etc. 

iii. 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 the parent’s stories of their childhood, their parents and grandparents, and how peopled survived without the computer or cell phone.  Parents can learn about what makes their children happy, scared, or their friends.  Sitting around a camp fire telling stories and burning Marshmallows is epic and real.  How many times did you cook a hot dog on a stick and how did it taste? 

Practice Session.  Can you remember at least 3 fond stories you learned from your parents or children while sitting around a campfire.  

iv. Observing Nature’s Beauty. 

Nature has boundless beauty that cannot be fully captured in photographs. The cuteness of tiny chipmunks darting under a log, or 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 forest “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.  Every minute, every hour and every day Joy is accumulating and building blocks around those fears parked in hidden recesses of the brain.  The benefits from 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 get back.  You may be surprised that you may not have any.  Remember a negative thought is a false thought.  It is not the same as a true 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

i. 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 there are six ingredients approved by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).  If you did not bring any repellent then 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 as well as traps for wasps.  Insect traps that emit various sound waves have not been particularly effective. 

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

Dragonflies are very effective in clearing out mosquito 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.   

ii. Animal Precautions. 

Some animals are cute and friendly looking, but are extremely dangerous.  The Moose is a prime example.  You do not turn your back to a wolf or bear and run.    Do not feed or pet wild animals or get between a mother bear and its cub.  You must watch out of wild life crossing the road, particularly at dawn and dusk.  When camping in as tent, it is advisable not to keep your food inside the tent with you. 

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 useful hints for bear safety. 

iii. 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).  One fun game is started by calling out the word campfire.  The next person the, states a word associated with campfire.  For example, the next word may be “fire,” the next may be “air,” then “life,” etc.   

iv. Do Not Get Lost. 

It is a good idea to carry a map, whistle, warm cloths, 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, dark comes early and fast in the forest.  

Ever notice your pets do not like to go outside 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. 

There are many camping and hunting websites that provide excellent information as to what to do in the woods. 

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