In 2020, travel is fairly restricted and, for the most part, we are not really permitted to travel outside the US. There are a few countries US citizens are able to travel to but I do not feel comfortable boarding a plane right now given the pandemic is, as of this writing, still raging with infection and death numbers increasing drastically. We’ve not traveled anywhere exotic this year but we did go camping in the wild. We decided to go camping because we needed a break from our home and wanted to do something differently. Alfred’s sister was going camping with her family and she invited us to go too. We had a great time camping and I think you will too if you give it a try.
Types of Camping
Now there are many types of camping and many different ways people classify them. But I’ve reduced them down to just four categories that can adequately describe most camping situations. There is no right or wrong category of camping but just remember no matter how you choose to camp, you should always leave your campsite so it looks like no one was ever there. That means keeping your trash from polluting the environment, putting out fires, and taking everything you brought in with you when you leave. Here are the different types of camping…which one do you prefer?
Tent Camping: This is my preferred way to camp because it is the easiest, least stressful, and requires very little skill. I am not trying to be a survivalist and really just want to experience nature in a laidback atmosphere but I still want to feel like I am in nature and not sitting in a cushy RV. Tent camping essentially means you are going to a campsite and setting up a tent as your shelter. Typically this means you’re campsite is already cleared and ready…all you need to do is bring the supplies and gear you’ll need for your trip. For instance, we camped at a site that was already set up with a space for our tent, had a picnic table, and a fire pit already dug out for us. The site even had a post we could hang lanterns from and tie a cloths line too. We didn’t need to hike into the campsite or anything. Tent camping requires minimal effort and is best suited for those wishing to get out in nature but aren’t looking to be survivalists.
Adventure Camping: Adventure camping encompasses a number of types of camping but essentially requires a lot more effort and skill. Most the time it means caring your supplies on your back and hiking until you find the location for your campsite. You’ll need to take care of everything yourself and you won’t have access to clean water or toilet facilities. Within this category are varying levels of skill needed. First of all, you will need physical strength and stamina to carry everything as you hike to your camp site. But depending on what you’re trying to do, you will need other survival skills as well. Some people take food with them and simply want to experience remote camping. Others don’t take anything with them instead choosing to hunt, fish, and gather for their sustenance. Additionally, this is the type of camping you do if your going to engage in serious hiking such as hiking the Appalachian Trail.
Glamping: Glamping is essentially not camping. If you go glamping then you’re heading to a campsite where everything is set up for you and often resort-style services and amenities are available. You don’t need to worry about a single thing when glamping because someone else is paid to take care of everything. It’s usually a way to experience nature in a comfort and luxury. Camping purists might frown on this form of camping but I happen to think it’s fantastic. Often, glamping will expose people to nature in a safer fashion which can be beneficial to environmental causes. I think there is a time and a place for everything and certainly will give glamping a try sometime.
RV Camping: There is heated debate over whether or not RV camping is actually camping because it involves the use of, basically, a mobile home. There is nothing wrong with using an RV (or other form of mobile camping) but it does detract from the nature experience. You aren’t sleeping outside and are instead closed inside a vehicle. However, by using an RV, you have access to built in kitchen, refrigeration, and bathroom facilities which can make for a pleasant experience for many families. It’s also pretty handy should the weather turn bad as you won’t need to worry about getting wet. You can still set up a fire pit and enjoy some of the other aspects of camping while using and RV. However, I’d argue that it simply is not the same and does detract from the overall experience of camping in the wild.
Camping in North Carolina
My home state of North Carolina is great for camping as we have the coast on one end of the state and the Appalachian mountains at the other end. There are a plethora of designated camping sites to choose from…especially in the mountains. You can easily find camping scenarios that fit your preferences from glamping to RV to tent to adventure camping. We are also surrounded by the commonwealth of Virginia and the states of South Carolina and Tennessee which offer ample opportunity to get outdoors and camp in the wild.
Aside from a diversity of campsite and geographical environments, the region where I live is known for warmer weather in the spring and summer with mild autumns and winters. The weather here makes camping a bit easier even in the toughest part of the year.
Where We Camped This Year
This year was the first time Alfred and I decided we’d give camping a try together. It isn’t usually our normal way of travel but circumstances definitely called for stepping outside the box. We headed up north to the Appalachian Mountains in Virginia for our camping endeavor. We camped at Bear Tree Recreation Area located near Damascus, Virginia with family. There are actually two campgrounds in this area so you could choose to stay in Beaver Flats campground as well. They’re right next to each other. The campgrounds offer a really relaxing and family-friendly experience with a variety of recreational activities. It’s located in the Mount Rogers National Recreation Area which is part of the George Washington and Jefferson National Forest. Camping here offers an excellent opportunity to reconnect with family and friends as there is absolutely no cellular service in the area and the closest town is about 30 minutes away.
Bear Tree offers a fairly large camping layout with both group and individual campsites. The recreation area offers places to swim, hike, and fish for trout, smallmouth bass, and sunfish. If you plan to fish make sure you buy your fishing license before you go! Nearby is the town of Damascus where you can reserve bicycles and take a ride down the Virginia Creeper Trail; it’s a super easy ride because the tour company drives you to the top and it’s all down hill.
We really enjoyed camping, hanging around our campfire, hiking, bike riding, and fishing during this trip camping in the wild and I think you will too.
Why I Love Camping in the Wild!
You might think of camping as roughing it and, in a sense, that’s fairly accurate. You’re venturing into a remote forest, sleeping outside, adjusting to the atmosphere, and don’t have your normal facilities that you’re accustomed to. But camping really isn’t that tough…at least if you camp at a pre-made campground with bathroom facilities. After a few hours of being out in the woods, I didn’t even think about my phone and lack of service anymore. In fact, I want point I felt ecstatic and couldn’t really explain it. I assume it was just an effect of being out in the forest. Come to find out, I really enjoy camping for so many reasons. Here are just a few reasons I love camping in the wild and why I think you’ll also enjoy it.
Don’t knock it until you try it!
According to science, spending time outdoors is good for you for a whole slew of reasons including boosting mental health, improving blood pressure, and decreasing cancer risk. It’s also a great way to get more sunlight which boosts your vitamin D levels. When I spend a bit of time outdoors, I always feel refreshed. Forest bathing is when you spend a substantial amount of time in nature and it can definitely improve your mood. It’s in our nature to be outdoors and it’s essential that we make time for it. That means camping for a few days is an excellent way to improve your health in many ways.
If you’re anything like me then you are constantly looking at one screen or another. If it isn’t the tv, then it’s my computer or phone. We are highly connected these days and constantly bombarded with a ceaseless river of information. This isn’t good for our mental health at all as we perceive the happiness of everyone around us and wonder if there is something wrong with our own lives. Too much screen time can make you feel less successful and that in turn can take a toll on your overall health. Camping in the wild often means you do not have access to the internet or even cellular service. It forces you to disconnect and make time for yourself and other things such as pets and family. When we went camping earlier this year I felt so happy and didn’t think about my phone for most the trip. It was liberating.
Spending time with family
To me, family is everything and family is also those who you choose. This applies to blood relatives and to friends. It’s always a choice and I’ve chosen the people I want in my life. Now, I often get so caught up in my travels and projects, and other work that I forget to make time to spend with those people. Since camping is all about getting back to nature and achieving a bit of a temporary lull, it’s a great time to connect with the people you are camping with. For me, during this trip, it meant spending more time with my family and it was awesome.
I’m going to be honest with you, for me, one of the biggest turn offs when it comes to camping is the idea of sleeping outside. I simply don’t want to be uncomfortable and wake up with pain in my neck and back. I’m also not keen on the possibility of bugs crawling over me while I sleep…or worse the potential for a snake to enter our tent. But none of this happened. Granted, my idea of camping involves a nice big tent decked out with a queen sized air mattress that keeps us off the ground and comfy pillows to boot. But there is nothing wrong with this. The idea is to get out in nature. Sleeping outside is a great experience as you slowly drift to dreamland while hearing the sounds of the forest. It’s also great to sleep under the stars. Just follow my lead and make sure you’re sleeping area is as comfortable as you can make it.
Who doesn’t love sitting around a campfire? I love bonfires and campfires so much that I’ve actually dug a fire pit in my back yard. When you go camping, building a fire is a given because you’re going to want that warmth and light at night. Break out the marshmallows, grab a drink, and tell some ghost stories. Campfires invite fellowship and it’s one of the best parts of camping.
Cooking over a fire
With campfires comes the opportunity to cook over an open fire. Most of us would not normally get to do this in our day to day lives so this is a unique opportunity. Even if you have a gas stove at home, cooking over a campfire is definitely different and poses a unique challenge. You can’t control the heat as much so you’ve got to figure everything out as you go. I really enjoyed doing it as soon as I got the hang of it all. There is something about cooking outdoors and enjoying a meal under the canopy of a forest that is so fulfilling.
If you’re spending time camping outdoors then you’re bound to get active and this is great for your health. Simply setting up and running a campsite takes physical effort. However, you’re probably going to end up hiking which is definitely good exercise. Not only that but there is usually opportunity for swimming, fishing, and even bike riding. All of this means you’re getting up and getting active while camping in the wild.
For me, one of the highlights of camping is going fishing. I love to sit there and cast my line waiting for a fish to take my bait. It’s relaxing and a great way to hang out with other people or just let your mind wander. The moment you get a bite, the serenity ends and you’re adrenaline starts rushing. When you catch a fish, it is definitely exciting. You have two choices: throw it back or keep it and eat it. If you choose the latter, it’s very rewarding to catch your own food and then cook it over a fire. It’s just another perk of camping in the wild.
I think this goes hand in hand with unplugging from social media in and the internet but camping can lead to communicating with your significant other and family better than you do on a day to day basis. When there isn’t much to distract you then you begin giving the people in your life at the moment more attention. You find there is something to just sitting around, hiking, and having real conversations with the people you’re with.
Yes, there are tons of really cool and expensive camping gadgets and gear but you don’t really need all of that. You can easily go camping in the wild with just a tent, some cooking gear, and a few other essentials and have a great time. I am definitely a sucker for gadgets but they simply aren’t necessary. Campground fees are typically not very expensive either. That means camping in the wild is a fairly affordable thing to do. So give it a go!
Would you give camping a chance?
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