Drop everything and go camping before the semester is over
In October, I went on my first spontaneous mid-semester camping escapade. During those two nights on Salt Spring Island, my perspective on what is and isn’t important in life completely changed.
It’s easy to get caught up in the routine of being in school, and with classes well underway, it feels like there’s no time for anything else. With work, chores, social commitments, and the never-ending stream of looming deadlines, it’s tempting to stay cozy at home, glued to a screen all weekend.
We’ve all heard that going for a walk outside will make us feel better, but what if we took that to the next level and really put ourselves in nature’s embrace?
Why is spending time indoors bad?
Canadians spend as much as 90 per cent of their time indoors, often sedentary and engaging in screen-bound activities. Elevated screen time can be associated with heightened anxiety and depression symptoms, poor sleep quality, and cardiovascular issues. As such, the more time we spend outdoors and away from our screens, the more control we may have over our physical and mental well-being.
How does nature help us?
During my camping trip, I discovered that nature serves as a temporary antidote for the stress that plagues my life as a university student. Spending time away from screens and in nature reminded me that life is so much more than a perfect test score. Our lives are really about meaningful experiences and connecting with the people and landscapes around us.
Southern Vancouver Island is part of British Columbia’s temperate rainforest, which makes up 25 per cent of the world’s temperate rainforest. This provides a striking backdrop of lush vegetation to help us reorient ourselves to what is really important to us while also boosting our mood, health, and well-being.
The significance of nature isn’t lost on Canadians. A series of online interviews from 2011 states 87 per cent of Canadians feel happier when they spend more time in nature. In the same study, 37 per cent said that camping is the way they like to experience nature.
As I see it, camping makes you commit to longer periods of time outdoors, giving your body more opportunities to relax and get some fresh air — and free your spirit.
What are the barriers?
For many students, a weekend spent camping clashes with the relentless workload of classes.
Studying for long periods of time is uninspiring and dreary, by getting out into nature you give yourself the opportunity to stimulate your mind, or maybe even gain a fresh perspective. A camping trip forces you to disconnect from your devices and homework, creating tangible distance between your personal life and schoolwork.
The weather, known for being particularly cold and damp this time of year, further encourages us to stay indoors. As long as you go with a good pair of boots that are water resistant and a rain jacket, you’ll be protected from the weather and can listen to the soothing sounds of the rain falling.
While camping may not be accessible to everyone, I encourage you to explore your options and do it in a way that makes sense for you. Whether this means going for one night instead of two, choosing a closer location (to reduce travel time), or even asking for an extension on an assignment, there are options to make this trip feasible.
If you have extra room, consider packing a soft blanket, extra snacks, and a book you’ve been meaning to read to make the trip even more enjoyable.
What did I learn?
My trip was, as predicted, wet and cold. I read books, coloured, almost made a fire, went on numerous meandering walks, and did a polar plunge. It felt good to put technology away (besides my trusty Nikon camera) and truly be present in the moment.
Still, the most important thing I learned during my getaway was that you really don’t need a lot in life to be happy. Stripping away all the literal and metaphorical clutter in my life helped me figure out who and what I really needed to prioritize in my life.
The time I spend watching teen dramas and scrolling through apps that waste my time are meaningless in comparison to the time I spend with friends. We only have a short time to exist in our university bubble before graduating and inevitably moving away. I’m here not to rot away in front of a screen, but to make memories with the people that make my time here worth it while enjoying the natural landscape of my home province.