One of the most challenging things about taking a vacation from work in this day and age is that you’re never really away. Instead, emails arrive on your phone, co-workers call, and you come home more stressed than before you left. That’s why, if you really want to catch a break, your best bet is to get off the grid and go camping.
Of course, not everyone finds the idea of camping appealing, but if you want to spend quality time with your family, it’s worth giving it a chance. Though camping may feel like a foreign concept, this first trip could be the start of a wonderful family tradition.
A Growing Community Of Campers
Though the activity has always been popular with older, white Americans, our hyperconnected lives have created growing interest in camping among previously disengaged groups, particularly millennial families. Since 2014, 6 million new households have started camping, and as of 2018, Kampground of America reports that 45% of camping households plan to increase their trips.
Hispanic and African American families have historically been reticent to take to the woods. Recently, though, these groups have also shown growing interest in the activity, with a particular emphasis on RV camping. In other words, no matter where you congregate or where you come from, you’ll likely find other young families like yours enjoying the outdoors.
Outdoor Adventures With Kids
Outdoor play is an important part of childhood development and provides both physical and mental health benefits. Children who grow up near green spaces are less likely to be overweight and have better self-esteem and lower levels of anxiety than their peers in more restrictive urban environments.
One reason children who grow up spending time outside are healthier is that you, as a parent, are more likely to model healthy behaviors. Remember, our kids reflect the behaviors they see around them. If your vacations are based on physical activity and enjoying the great outdoors, then they’ll learn to associate those things with pleasure.
Testing Your Boundaries
Both adults and children today can have some anxiety about separating from technology and trying new things, but that’s exactly what we do on vacations – we go on rollercoasters or travel to unfamiliar places. Camping is similar; it’s a new experience and it can take some getting used to, but it’s a chance to do things you’d never do otherwise. For example, you can cook over a campfire, visit a lake and go fishing or kayaking, or go on long hikes. As a family, these activities can encourage you to work together, laugh, and have great conversation without all the distractions from technology.
Let The Kids Lead
Even when you go to a destination that your kids are enthusiastic about, as a parent, you’re usually in the lead – you’re trying to keep to a schedule and make sure no one gets lost in a crowd. When you’re camping, though, the whole day is spread out ahead of you, and it’s a great opportunity to let your kids take the lead and decide what to do during the day.
Too few vacations today really leave room for adventure; they’re just about following a different schedule than you would at home. Allowing your kids to take the lead, though, encourages them to think creatively, feel empowered, and can help them beat boredom independently when you get back home.
Expand Your Horizons
If you discover that you like camping – and what’s not to like about avoiding email for a few days – it’s a vacation that can really grow with your family. For example, with young kids, you’ll want to build in plenty of time to rest, you can build forts in the woods, or go swimming. With older kids, you can bring mountain bikes and explore the terrain or tap into a budding scientist’s passion and identify plants, bugs, and wildlife. Camping trips are endlessly customizable based on your family’s interests.
Camping is an incredible way to see the world while traveling light. You can pitch a tent nearby or cross the country in an RV. You can even go camping in other countries in between seeing the sites. No matter where you go, you can put your phone away and take a deep breath. You may be surprised just how refreshed you feel when you get back home. And isn’t that the point of a vacation?