By El Marshall
Camping trips can seem harder to accomplish as life gets busier, but it doesn’t have to be. A few simple mindset adjustments can help you fit camping into even the most jam-packed schedule.
When you’re young, camping is easy. My friends and I could plan and be ready to execute a trip in a day’s notice and we did so often. The older we have all gotten, though, the fewer and farther between our trips have become. We’re now all grown up with families, jobs, and grown-up responsibility. A couple of years ago I realized that if you asked me to describe myself, “camper” was still one of the first five words I would use, but I was only dedicating time for it a few times a year. To fix that, I had to change a couple of things about my camping persona, and it has made all the difference.
These are some things that have helped me work camping back into my life, and I hope they’ll help you as well.
1. Involve the whole family.
When I was 15-22 years old, camping is what I did to get away from my family. My friends and I loaded up and hit the woods and I was not responsible for anyone except that group for the next few days. Now, I invite my whole family along. Parents, kids, cousins…we have made it an adjustment to be an experience we can all enjoy. More than one birthday party has been held at a campground so that the non-campers can still drive out and enjoy the day with us and we still get to camp.
Combining family obligations with camping desires has given us a great new avenue to celebrate milestones.
2. Embrace the weekend getaway.
There was a time when I thought a couple of nights camping just was not worth spending the time and effort on. If I could not be gone for at least four days, then what was the sense of even going? In my adult life, I have realized that it’s the quality of your experience camping, not the quantity of time that matters. So now if we spot a free weekend, it’s time to camp. We’ll have the stuff loaded and ready to leave by the time the whistle blows on Friday and we’ll be home in time for me to cook dinner on Sunday.
It’s a short trip, but it’s so worth it.
3. Get to know your local campgrounds.
I’ll admit it. My name is El and I am a recovering camping snob. I used to think that camping was only camping if you drove for hours to a secluded area and hiked five miles to get to your campsite with everything you needed on your back. I judged those who pulled their RV into the local campground and were just ready to go. I still think traditional camping is the best, but it’s also a big reason camping wasn’t fitting into my life. Now, I have been to every campground within an hour from my house, and while I’m still all about my tent, some of my best friends have RVs and I love them, too.
Campgrounds came about for camping convenience. Take full advantage of them!
4. Be OK with technology.
As I mentioned, I used to be a camping snob. A purist, so to speak. Camping grills, electricity and Internet connection were not allowed on my trips. I humbly admit though, I was wrong. I have finished up a project in my tent after the kids go to sleep more than once. I have a Coleman grill for some of our meals so my family does not have to spend hours cooking for a weekend getaway. I have even taken out a coffee pot. Why? Because being able to do these things frees up our time to both be able to get out at all, and to make the most of the days that we have.
If I could not finish that project, maybe we would not have been able to go out that weekend at all, and if we did not have coffee quickly the next day, I may not have been able to get out of the sleeping bag.
5. Start a tradition.
I have made some changes to my camping routine, but every once and a while I do still want to hike those five miles to the campground and stay there for a week without my computer, and so my friends and I have made it a tradition at least once a year to do a bucket-list trip. By making it a tradition, we made it a priority and we get it done, because we know it’s good for us. Now, at least once a year, we can count on going back to our roots, making memories, and having a great time.
If you follow some of these steps, you will be able to get out there and spend some time in the mountains again.