Camping is a wonderful way to get back to nature and enjoy a digital detox. For some families, it is a beloved tradition that includes s’mores and campfire songs.
But camping is so much more. What some of us may not realize as we pitch our tents and cook over a fire is that we are actually practicing essential preparedness skills.
We don’t know what tomorrow holds. But it is possible that there will be a day when we find ourselves relying on the skills we acquired camping to help us survive.
Survival expert Creek Stewart told Men’s Journal, “You can read countless books on survival methods and watch YouTube instructional videos all day long. But until you get out into the field on your hands and knees and practice those skills yourself, all you’ll have is a false sense of security that you’d know what to do in a crisis.”
Camping is the perfect opportunity to apply your survival knowledge. Read on for reasons why.
Camping Is Demanding
In survival situations, people are pushed far beyond their limits, both mentally and physically.
Unlike air-conditioned hotel room vacations, camping is demanding and requires a lot of mental and physical fortitude. This is especially true if you push yourself to try a harder camping location, such as one that requires backpacking and hiking to your campsite.
According to the National Park Service, “Camping...it does a body (and mind) good. The physical demands of camping in the backcountry clearly count as exercise. But any kind of camping has health benefits. Some are straightforward, like setting up camp or hiking. Mental health improves outside.”
Camping Teaches You How to Manage Resources
While some people have entire underground bunkers stocked full of emergency preparedness supplies, most of us aren’t even close to that level of preparedness. Many people have limited space for these supplies and limited funds. The same is true when it comes to camping. There are those who have all of the most expensive gear and others who just have the basics.
The truth is that it doesn’t matter if you have top-of-the-line gear. What matters is what you pack and how you manage the resources you take with you. Ask anyone who has gone camping and forgotten to pack a critical resource, such as a flashlight.
Camping requires planning and preparing. You must know what you need and how much you can carry (especially if you are backpacking). Due to the size limitations of your backpack and your tent, you cannot take everything you want. But you can take what you need.
Similarly, it teaches you the importance of managing your resources. You won’t run your electronics if it means you risk running out of batteries. You won’t eat all your food on the first day if you know that your food has to last you three days.
Knowing how to distinguish between wants and needs, and how to manage the resources you have to meet those needs, will also help you in a survival situation.
[Related Read: 20 Outdoor Survival Tools and Skills That May Save Your Life]
Camping Requires Situational Awareness
When you camp, you spend time finding the perfect spot to pitch your tent and set up for the night. To do that, you take in your surroundings to make sure they are safe and will work to meet your camping needs.
Eureka explains, “Whether you're on a two-day camping trip or you're stuck on the side of a mountain for a week, you should always know your surroundings. Think about novel ways to use your materials and prioritize your needs. If you're able to stay calm and take a logical approach in unexpected situations, you'll be a much better camper and survivalist.”
This is practicing basic situational awareness. This same skill is necessary for every type of disaster.
Camping Gives You a Chance to Live Off the Land
Sure, some families pack a bunch of food in the cooler for their camping trips. There isn’t anything wrong with taking meals with you. However, if you want to use camping as an opportunity to really apply your preparedness skills, consider hunting, fishing, and foraging for food. Knowing how to find food for yourself and your family will go a long way in a survival situation.
According to Mossy Oak, “It’s surprising how many edible wild plants are available in your backyard farm or around your neighborhood. In a survival situation, plants are a vital source of nutrients that can provide a low-impact source of energy. Identifying edible plants can be tricky, as many toxic species have similar characteristics as non-toxic ones.”
Next time you go camping, take your deck of Edible Wild Foods Playing Cards and practice identifying edible plants.
Camping Makes Use of Several Basic Preparedness Skills
Finally, the biggest reason why camping is the fundamental preparedness skill you need to practice is that it encompasses several basic preparedness skills, such as the following:
- Find clean water. Water is essential for survival. Camping gives you an opportunity to practice finding clean water, as well as purifying water.
- Build a fire. One of the quintessential elements of camping is the campfire. Camping is the perfect time to learn how to build one of the 8 types of fires.
- Create a shelter. Most people use a tent to camp, but you don’t have to. A tent is a type of shelter, but camping outdoors also includes building a lean-to, a tarp tent, or a teepee.
- Many people today rely on their GPS to help them navigate, but what happens when you lose signal? Can you find your way? Knowing how to navigate with and without a compass is an essential preparedness skill.
- Identify dangers. When sleeping outdoors, you must stay aware of potential dangers, including wildlife and weather.
- Regulate body temperature. Camping requires you to think carefully about how you will stay warm or cool (depending on the season and conditions). Likewise, in a survival situation, it is paramount to know how to regulate your body temperature as hypothermia and heat stroke are potentially fatal.
If you have kids, go ahead and include them in your camping adventures. They’ll have an opportunity to practice preparedness firsthand without even realizing they are learning critical survival skills.
[Related Read: 12 Survival Skills Families Need to Know]
Get back to nature and put those preparedness skills to work, friends.
Preparedness Advisor, My Patriot Supply