There are plenty of reasons to go camping. It’s fun; you can learn new skills; you can relax — but it also has health benefits.
While we love camping, during this time it’s important to follow local and state guidelines for the COVID-19 pandemic and remember to read this checklist before starting in-person Scouting activities. For additional answers to questions regarding camping this fall and winter, see these FAQs. And for any outing, refer to this pre-event checklist.
Even if you have to go camping in your backyard right now, check out these seven reasons why you should make camping a priority:
- It resets your biological clock and balances melatonin levels. We are definitely living in an era where our regular sleep rhythm can get skewed. With the constant flood of artificial light and stimulation we deal with, it is no wonder that our sleep is disturbed. Being outside with all-natural light, we are allowing our bodies to reset to a natural cadence. This can also help balance our melatonin levels, which — without getting into a full-blown science class discussion — simply results in healthier immune function, protects against some toxins and also results in better sleep.
- Higher oxygen intake. This one deserved its own line. There are so many benefits to increasing your oxygen intake. Benefits of increased oxygen include higher energy levels, a stronger immune system, quicker muscle recovery and better sleep. Getting outside will give you those benefits, so cheers to that.
- Get a solid mood boost. Increased sunlight exposure equals an instant mood booster! Too much sun can damage your skin, but getting into some direct sunlight can help the body to release serotonin, which can help lift your mood. Being out in the sun can also result in higher levels of vitamin D, which plays a crucial role in bone health. Again though, you need to protect yourself from overexposure.
- Better physical fitness. Being outside with all the fresh air, surrounded by nature and trails, should lead to higher amounts of physical activity. That then leads to your body releasing endorphins, which leads to a happier mood. More movement also can help you get a better night’s sleep. Make sure you review the risk factors and safety considerations with any physical activity you’re planning. Be sure to check the Guide to Safe Scouting as well.
- Increased problem-solving skills. You know, one of the best parts of Scouting is that it teaches you to view problems as opportunities to grow. Camping provides an opportunity to test out your skills. You cannot control the world around you, so there might be curve balls that you get to work on turning into home runs.
- Reduce anxiety and depression. The reduction of stimuli can greatly contribute to lowering anxiety levels. Nowadays, we can be constantly bombarded with “action items” and information. With so much input coming in, our nervous systems never actually have a chance to relax. Not only does this contribute to negative changes in our body’s hormone levels, but can also lead to poor sleep and depression. Getting outside and off-the-grid a bit can greatly reduce all of these negative side effects and gives our bodies a chance to reboot.
- The chance to get bored. Being bored actually gives us an opportunity to be creative. It allows our brains the space to daydream and make connections that wouldn’t be made if we were engaged in a million tasks in a fast-paced world. Let yourself be a little bored and let your kids discover the freedom of boredom!
To be honest, this list could continue with the benefits of relaxation, spending time with whomever you are camping with and outdoor cooking, just to name a few.
The BSA wants to share your adventures. After you get back home, you can share photos with the Scout Shop on social media by using the #ScoutShopBSA hashtag. You can also share with Scouting magazine by visiting go.scoutingmagazine.org/showandtell or emailing at firstname.lastname@example.org.
And if you have a cool campout planned with your unit, be sure to let Boys’ Life know by clicking here — they might want to tag along.