Camping is a gateway to the outdoors.
Charles Lindbergh famously said, “Real freedom lies in wildness, not in civilization.” And camping gives us an opportunity to define just what that freedom looks like.
Are you the type of camper who likes to stay at the campsite, enjoying the scientifically proven relaxing effects of nature? Or do you set up camp and immediately take to the trails?
Whatever your habit is, here are four ways to add more adventure to your camping trips and exercise the freedom of the outdoors.
Hiking, the Ultimate Exercise of Freedom
Those who love to hike understand why it’s on this list: you get to see more of the surrounding vegetation and wildlife, while at the same time getting your lungs pumping and heart thumping. There are few better feelings than being on top of a hill spotted from below. Or the feeling of finally taking a seat in your camp chair after a long day on the trail.
Those who don’t love to hike might find it too boring. After all, to be overly simplistic, it is just walking in the woods. If you’re struggling to get into hiking, try to embrace the freedom of the outdoors. Don’t think of it as one foot in front of the other on a predetermined path. Think of it for what it is: exploring. You’re going where you’ve never been before, with sights, sounds, and smells that are all new to you. And, unless you’re hiking in a sensitive habitat, you can embrace the freedom of the outdoors and truly explore. Go off trail, go where your heart takes you, make the experience about play. It’s hard not to like hiking when you approach it with that attitude.
Orienteering, Using Your Wits to Explore Beyond the Trail
Orienteering is the art of navigating the land. Using a topographical map, your compass, and your wit, you must make your way from point A to point B. Traditionally, Orienteering is a sport that involves unfamiliar terrain, multiple teams, and is often timed. But you can conduct your own version of orienteering from the campsite.
Bring topographical maps of the area and locate a nearby landmark on the map to target as your destination. Maybe it’s a tall point or a low point or a wide-open field in the middle of nowhere. Once you pick a destination, you’ll need to start on your way, which involves a number of different skills. For instance, you will need to judge distances on the map and relate them to real life. Knowing your pace count (how far you travel over 100 paces) is crucial. You will also need to recognize land features from the map as you pass them in real life.
Orienteering is a fun way to turn the outdoors into a puzzle, to introduce more adventure to your camping trip, and to get back to basics. Plus, you get to use your wits to cover a lot of terrain and see new sights.
To learn more about orienteering skills, this is a good place to start.
Climbing, the Art of Scaling Rocks
Few outdoor sports bring a rush like that of reaching the top of a rock wall completely of your own accord.
There are a number of different types of climbing you can get into from your campsite.
Bouldering is where a lot of people start. It requires the least amount equipment: just shoes and a crash pad. But bouldering isn’t necessarily the best place to start. For one, it requires more strength than technique, and for two, finishing a route puts you on top of a boulder, rather than on top of a wall. If that sounds like your kind of thing, then bring a crash pad and shoes on your next camping trip.
If you’re more into climbing up a wall of rock, you’re going to need more gear. Depending on what type of climbing you’re doing, you could need as little as a rope, harness, belay device, carabiners, and shoes. That would be for top-roping, which involves running your rope through an anchor at the top of the route. One person stands on the ground running one end of the rope through the belay device while the other person, connected to the other end of the rope, climbs.
Beyond top-roping, you could work up to the more advanced sport climbing and traditional (a.k.a. trad) climbing.
Learn more about the different types of climbing here.
Paddling, for New Perspectives and Exploration
There are few feelings better than gliding over a lake of glass in a canoe or careening down whitewater in a kayak.
Just make sure you have appropriate gear, from the all-important flotation device (rated for your type of paddling and size) to the right boat for your type of adventure.
Adventure doesn’t have to be frightening — it should be fun, too. So, if you’re not into the whole whitewater thing, stick to a canoe, kayak, or rowboat.
Regardless of which type of paddling you chose, boats give you a new perspective and take you to new places.
And that’s what adventure, and camping, are all about.