The benefits of camping for Scouts and all others are well-documented, and they are not exaggerated. Getting out into the great outdoors brings with it mental and physical health benefits, but camping provides much more than health perks. Spending the night in a scenic location with friends, family, or both can be a prime opportunity to socialize and party like Sasquatch for a night or two.
Camping provides a sense of freedom and accomplishment that few other activities offer in such a practical manner. That said, camping must be done responsibly, and adhering to well-established safety standards that all campers must embrace is the key to a successful overnight outdoor excursion.
Consider the following benefits and safety practices when taking Scouts camping:
Why Go Camping?
RVC Outdoor Destinations lists nine reasons why camping is good for your health. The physical benefits of camping-related exercise, namely hiking, include increased blood flow and a workout for your muscles and lungs. Speaking of lungs, the fresh air that you will find in the wilderness will provide a nice change-of-pace from the urban smog so many of us are used to.
The perks of camping are not only physical. They’re mental, too. A study from Warrior Health found that female veterans of war found relief from PTSD-related symptoms when they engaged in outdoor recreation, which camping qualifies as. The many activities related to camping – hiking, setting up camp, finding clean water, etc. – are also known to improve feelings of self-esteem and self-efficacy. According to Travel Guideline, they also provide a meditative-like peace of mind.
With all of this in mind, it’s obvious why you should seriously consider a camping trip. However, these perks of being in the great outdoors can be quickly derailed if you do not adhere to safe camping practices.
Camping Right Means Putting Safety First
A glance at CA.gov’s wildfire map will help you understand how critical camping safety – and fire safety in particular – is to prevent potential disaster. It’s not difficult to take the steps to hike and camp safely, but too often people are too wanton or thoughtless when it comes to preserving nature and their own safety.
Since hiking is typically a precursor to camping, explaining safe hiking practices should come first. Begin by packing a fully-equipped first-aid kit. Drinking alcohol before hiking is never a good idea, as it can deter your attention from the path and potentially dangerous wild animals, a recipe for serious injury. The National Traffic Safety Institute – yes, they know hiking safety too – recommends wearing protective clothing that can prevent burns and guard from bugs, insects, and other wildlife bites.
A group hiking together should stay within sight of the first and last person. The CDC highlights the dangers of not hydrating properly while engaging in outdoor activities like hiking. Often, camping means venturing on paths which ambulances cannot access, so succumbing to heatstroke or other hydration and nutrition-related illnesses could mean death.
Once you arrive at the campsite, you are likely going to want to start a fire. If this is legal in your area, go right ahead. But this also means being aware of and practicing, safe fire practices. Do not start a fire underbrush that could catch should the flames go higher than expected, and clear any nearby debris from the vicinity of the fire, as it too could be a fire hazard. Safety-proof your fire pit by digging ditches and/or lining it with rocks, and keep ample water nearby.
When it comes time to put the fire out, extinguish it completely. Make sure that no embers are burning before you go to bed, as even one rogue spark could result in disaster. With these tips, you are equipped to embark on a memorable camping trip.
Camping is as American as baseball and apple pie. But camping is also synonymous with bone-headed decisions that can lead to serious injury and even death. The difference between a successful camping trip and a disastrous one most often lies in preparation and responsible safety practices. The most important safety conduct of all is fire safety, as the consequences of starting a forest fire are immeasurable. If you prepare yourself, friends, and family before heading out for a camping trip and remain responsible throughout, you can avoid the worst-case scenario while having a grand old time.