January 7, 2013

Gone Campin’ (Part 1)

While many Americans went out to eat and to New Year’s Eve parties, I spent the change of year camping in Big Bend National Park (more to come on this topic soon). It was perhaps the best New Year’s Eve I have ever spent, which is not a knock on my other New Year’s Eve experiences, but being in Nature at the turn of the year was simply incredible. And it got me thinking about camping as a whole, which, naturally, made me want to write about it.

So I decided to write a blog about why more people should camp. So here goes.

One reason that people should camp is because it forces us to shut off.  More often than not, campsites and campgrounds and Nature as a whole do not have cell phone or internet access. So for the time we camp, we turn technology off. Now, I am a fan of technology, really, but I also believe that it is important to just switch it all off sometimes.

When we are at home, that is hard to do. We have work and family and friends and school and any number of reasons to connect. When we camp, we do not have the same access to these things, so we can legitimately reboot. Ha…no pun intended.

Another reason to camp is to connect with Nature. When we sleep outside or even in a tent, we breathe in fresh air, feel the quiet of the place we are, and hear the fauna surrounding us. It is almost a primordial experiences. For me, it feels like reaching back to a past long covered with concrete. I feel at peace in Nature especially when I’m camping.

Plus, who doesn’t love a campfire? It serves so many purposes: entertainment, heat, food cooking, and even bug control. I would venture to say that no TV is better than watching a fire, and few appliances cook food better.

When we camp we also have to get back to basics, at least to some degree. We will not have a fridge or microwave or anything like that to make meals quick and easy. We have to think out what foods we will bring and how to cook them (if cooking is necessary). More often than not, that cooking happens over the campfire just as our ancestors did hundreds of years ago.

And camping allows us to get dirty and not have to care about how we look. We don’t have to spend time in the morning doing our hair or putting on make-up or ironing. We just have to get up and go hike or fish or just enjoy the nature around us. It is really nice to not have to worry about looking professional or anything. We can just go. That rocks.

Now, I know not everyone will agree with these reasons, and many other reasons exist to explain why people should camp. Even those who already camp would say the best camping is in a pop-up camper or a RV, but I hold true to the only way to camp is in a tent or even just under the night sky. What you will see, hear, feel, smell, and taste when camping as primitive as you can will open your eyes to the beauty of the natural world. Real meditation, contemplation, and prayer can happen because we aren’t distracted. This perhaps is my favorite reason to camp.

Taking time out to camp is definitely a worthwhile experience. To be in Nature walking, hiking, fishing, or just viewing is simply refreshing. We all need a moment away, and camping allows us that.

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Rayshell E. Clapper is an Associate Professor of English at a rural college in Oklahoma where she teaches Creative Writing, Literature, and Composition classes. She has presented her original fiction and non-fiction at several conferences and events including: Scissortail Creative Writing Festival, Howlers and Yawpers Creativity Symposium, Southwest/Texas Pop Culture Association/American Culture Association Regional Conference, and Pop Culture Association/American Culture Association National Conference. Her publications include Cybersoleil Journal, Sugar Mule Literary Magazine, Red Dirt Anthology, Originals, and Oklahoma English Journal. Beyond her written works, she successfully created a writer's group in rural Oklahoma to support burgeoning writers. The written word is her passion, and all she experiences inspires that passion. She hopes to help inspire others through her words.

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