I love camping and everything to do with it, even though having two young children means it’s no longer simple or restful. In fact, a camping trip for our family often results in us packing too much gear, not getting very much sleep, having some kind of health crisis and breaking something very expensive. The rain and the kids often wake us up too early, and inevitably we return home more exhausted than we left.
So it got me wondering why we, like so many others, love to go camping when it doesn’t always turn out to be that restful or relaxing. It’s a global desire that fuels a huge industry and with the economy as it is, and camping being relatively cheap, it doesn’t look like it’s about to slow down. It seems the world is filling up with gorgeous campers and I for one am very happy about that.
It’s clear to me that although ‘camping’ is only one word, it means many different things to different people. Some of us love to set off with just a backpack, while others love to pack their best crockery and patio furniture. Then there are those who sleep on a mat under the stars or under canvas, while others stay in their beloved camper van or caravan. And finally there’s the new craze of glamping or cool posh camping that allows all those who love their luxuries to stay in glamorous equivalents of tents, caravans and camper vans while also camping in the wild.
It seems the world is filling up with gorgeous campers and I for one am very happy about that.
My personal theory about why we love camping, despite all the hard work involved, is because deep down we are all survival nomads at heart and camping allows us to answer a natural need we have to travel and make shelter to survive. We simply can’t seem to shake our primitive desires and I don’t think it matters if it’s just with our backpacks and boots on our feet, or with outdoor heaters, cocktails and a gas barbeque. Basically I think we’re all prehistorically hardwired to want to go camping and it’s something we just can’t escape from.
As humans we wouldn’t have spread across the globe if we hadn’t been compelled to travel from place to place. We’ve had to become travellers, adventurers and campers to survive, so as far as I can see it we’ve had these basic instincts hardwired into our systems. Similar to a salmon that swims up stream against the current just to answer a natural call, we feel a similarly powerful desire to get on the road and begin more outdoor adventures.
I think we’re all prehistorically hardwired to want to go camping and it’s something we just can’t escape from.
One of the main motivators to a nomadic culture is the need to go where the food and resources are, but then to move on before they get depleted. These cultures move with the rhythm of the seasons and hunt and harvest at the best times for those areas. Trappers in these communities move more quickly than the rest with very few belongings. They bed down and then move on after only minimal sleep, while the rest of the community follow on behind at a slower pace to harvest as they go. So it’s their own needs, that of their community and of their family that drives their approach to a nomadic lifestyle. You could say that campers take the same approach and this is why there are so many diverse ways of camping today.
We’ve had to become travellers, adventurers and campers to survive. It’s hardwired into our systems.
In the past our voyages of discovery allowed us to cover the earth, but it was skills of camping and being able to move our homes regularly that allowed those voyages to be successful.
So why is this call to a nomadic existence still so important for us today?
Well it seems to me that the feeling of achievement of pitching a tent, setting up the camper van or caravan, and making a home away from home answers one of our very basic needs to create shelter. Then if we start a fire, cook our food with minimal tools, and sleep and wake with nature we get into the rhythm of survival. This is something we rarely have to do in western civilisation today with our easy lives and labour saving luxuries, so the change and challenge I believe nurtures our natural instincts.
When we go camping we also love the process of simplifying, subtracting and stripping back from our normal cluttered and hectic daily lives. This gives us more opportunity to really get in touch with nature, find some solitude and time to switch off, and simply to breath. This space and clarity allows us to really see everything in natures playground, listen to it speak and be reminded of how amazing it all is. This in turn helps us put everything else back into perspective. Being outside in the fresh air also seems to heighten our senses, which can bring more rewards. Food tastes better, air smells cleaner and the birds and nature sound louder.
Of course there are other benefits to camping too. It allows us to escape the regular – the humdrum – and live in the moment and enjoy the now. It’s hard to switch off the TV, iPad, games console or Hoover when they are right there so being away from them allows us to embrace a simpler lifestyle and to slow us down. We also manage to create routines at the beginning and end of the camping day, while learning to do nothing in between. Often, we can also secure a view to die for, get to meet new people from many corners of the world, host gatherings, and share knowledge and camping stories.
Resulting from my own experience when camping isn’t actually that easy, simple or restful any more, I would even say it’s such an intrinsic need inherited from our ancestors we simply have no choice but to surrender to it. It’s as important as eating, sleeping, reproducing and howling at the moon (or is that latter point just in our family?)
It’s as important as eating, sleeping, reproducing and howling at the moon…
So whether we love it, can’t live without it, hate it or endure it, we have to accept that we probably can’t avoid it. Being hardwired to it means that no matter how hard we fight we may never be able to stop doing it… so we may as well just give in. And who knows, it may turn out to be the best thing we’ve ever done.
So what do you think? Do you agree to this theory or do you have one of your own? Don’t hold back… and remember to add your email to the free updates and bonuses box so you don’t miss out on our future articles.
SarahCreator & Writer Inspired Camping
Picture Credit: Roy Riley