By: Blonde Two
With just 17% of parents feeling confident about their ability to build a campfire bringing up children who really want to do just that, as well as put up a tent, build a raft and go fishing we appear to have reached a tricky situation, especially as we all know just how good a bit of Get Outside is for us. The Independent article that delivered these survey results suggested that more and more parents were turning to the internet to find out how to gain camping skills. The best way to learn however is not by reading (even a splendid blog such as this), it is by doing. Camping, especially when it ends up a soggy disaster, gives you life skills and this week, we have chosen to make these our Tuesday’s 10.
1. Camping reminds you about the basics
If you live an entirely indoor life with walls, electric lights, hot water and flat floors, you will forget that the elements outside are the basic building blocks of life; an important thing that we could all do with remembering. The sun brings heat and light, things (including sleeping people) roll down hills, rain gets you wet (all the way wet, through to the skin), cold water can both wake you up and make you too cold to sleep and you need food to keep you warm.
2. Camping will increase your creativity
Often when I am camping my brain starts composing bits of writing as soon as I wake up. Although I write for a living, this doesn’t happen when I am at home. There is a reason that musicians, artists and authors move to live in lonely, wild places. If you don’t believe me, read Robert Macfarlane’s ‘The Wild Places’ or listen to Vaughan Williams’ ‘Lark Ascending’.
3. Camping builds fortitude
Life rarely goes exactly to plan and neither does camping. Finding out that you can make the most of a rainy day, sleeping on a slope or the snoring of your nearest neighbour will build your ability to deal with difficult situations.
4. Camping teaches basic cooking skills
You have to learn how to do basic cooking when you are camping because basic equipment is all you have available. Knowing how to boil an egg is not a given in today’s society, neither is deciding whether or not your black-on-the-outside sausage is cooked on the inside.
5. Camping can make you be kinder to yourself
We live in a world obsessed with appearance, and social media only serves to fuel that obsession. WiFi and data access can be useful on a campsite but if you can find one without either for a while, allowing your ‘camping hair’ to develop alongside a face spotted with smuts from your campfire and your most practical but decidedly eccentric outfit, you will start to realise that appearances don’t really matter that much after all.
6. Camping encourages problem solving
Whether a camping problem is big (e.g. your tent has just fallen down) or small (e.g. there is an ant on your pillow), 9 times out of 10 it will be up to you to create your own solution. This will help develop a ‘solution not problem’ mind set. As Baden Powell once said, ‘Difficulties are the salt of life.’
7. Camping will improve your planning skills
I can guarantee that, the first time you camp (and probably all of the subsequent times), you will wish you had something you have left at home and will not use something else that you have brought with you. After nearly 10 years of camping together, B1 and I still make ‘next time’ lists after most of our expeditions and activities. Learning how to plan for possible eventualities is a great life skill and may even, one day, save a life.
8. Camping can improve brain function
This sounds like a big claim but any activity that takes us that little bit beyond our comfort zone is going to teach us new skills. Our brains are composed of around 86 billion neurons and can create new pathways and reorganise old ones, this is known as plasticity. Plasticity is good but needs feeding… with new experiences and new learning.
9. Camping gives you something to talk about in an interview
I used to teach careers and you would be surprised (and probably horrified) by how many youngsters can only give ‘spending time with friends’ and ‘gaming’ as their hobbies. Both of these are acceptable in proportion but camping has the potential to provide entertaining and thoughtful answers to such interview irritants as, ‘Tell me the last time you solved a problem’, ‘Tell me a little bit about yourself’ and, ‘What do you like to do outside work?’
10. Camping can make you more friendly
You might have to work a bit at this one but, stay in a campsite long enough and you will find yourself talking to people you don’t know. The more you talk to people, the more you realise that most of them are actually quite pleasant and interesting. Mr B2 and I used to practice by playing a game called, ‘Morning’. The person to collect the most ‘Morning’ type greetings each day won.
10+1 Camping gives you self confidence
Okay so I have already reached my ten but this is perhaps the biggest camping life skill of them all. Whether your camping experience includes sunshine or rain or outdoor fun or tent reading or a lonely mountain or a friendly campsite or a long journey or a local jaunt… Just doing it will have added to your self confidence bank because of all the new things you have learnt either to do or not to do.
What are you waiting for… you kids certainly don’t want you to wait… Get Outside and go camping. You won’t regret (at least not once you get safely back home again!)