So is camping actually fun? Camping is a great way to get away from the stress and routine of everyday life, reconnect with nature, and also have fun with friends and family members. But it also takes work to plan, pack, and unpack when you return. Is it really worth the hassle? In this article, we will explore why camping is so enjoyable as well as deeply meaningful and beneficial – and why it’s totally worth the effort!

What is camping?

Camping is an outdoor activity where you spend time away from your normal day-to-day lives, usually in a rural or natural environment. It usually refers to spending one night or more outdoors. People typically camp out in tents, RVs, cabins, or even primitive shelters. You can RV, tent, or car camp in national parks, state parks, some county and city parks, and private campgrounds around the country. For the more adventurous, look into backpacking, bikepacking, or motorcycle camping. The goal of camping is to have fun and relax while surrounded by nature. If you have never been camping, I hope to convince you to take your first camping trip 🙂

A group of tents on an overlook at sunrise
There are different ways to camp. Here is a group tent camping together

The benefits of camping

Camping is darned enjoyable by itself, and the benefits of camping go far beyond the moment. Getting away from civilization, cooking and sleeping outdoors, and surrounding yourself with greenery has powerful benefits for mental well-being, confidence, and creativity.

Taking a real break from everyday life and stress

Taking breaks from daily life is essential for mental health and physical well-being. Time away from work and your daily routine can help to reduce stress and anxiety, as it gives us a chance to step away from our regular routines and take a break from our worries. Camping is such a different environment that it forces you to mentally switch gears and interrupts your stress patterns.

Vacations and time outdoors will also help to boost your creative thinking and leave you with more mental clarity and focus by giving you space and distance from normal issues. They are an opportunity to reconnect with ourselves, our loved ones, and the natural world. I return from camping trips mentally refreshed with a better sense of perspective on my life.

Standing woman relaxing in sunshine with her head back
You don’t need to travel far to relax outdoors

Build confidence by doing something different

If you are new to camping or just camping in a new location, it’s an opportunity to do something different and get out of your comfort zone. Simply doing something different or trying new things can be a great way to expand your horizons. It can help you to gain new experiences, learn new skills, and make new connections. Overcoming the minor challenges of setting up camp or cooking outdoors helps to boost your confidence with a sense of accomplishment.

The first time I camped alone was both a little scary and exhilarating. Afterward, I felt empowered and confident – If I can do this, what else can I accomplish? It’s a great feeling I hope you have an opportunity to share!

Take a break from technology

If you want to take a break from the constant barrage of emails, notifications, social media, and online distractions, camping is a great choice. In fact, many campgrounds and remote areas have poor cell phone coverage so you have the perfect excuse to tell everyone you can’t be reached! Have you seen the advertisements of a rock climber taking a break to watch a sporting event on his phone? That’s not going to happen in the real world – I get a good laugh every time I see it.

Disconnecting occasionally will help you to reconnect with yourself and the people around you, as it allows you to spend more time engaging in meaningful activities and conversations. Walk away from the always-on expectations and focus on the outdoors for a change.

Winding road with beautiful scenery
Even the park roads in some campgrounds feature beautiful scenery – This is Yosemite National Park

Connect with Nature

Camping is a great way to connect with nature and enjoy the outdoors by surrounding yourself with it at every turn. Many people find peace in being surrounded by lush forests, refreshing streams, rivers, or peaceful meadows. It can be incredibly calming and inspiring to take in all that nature has to offer.

One of the things I love most about camping is that you get to immerse yourself in beautiful natural settings. Most park locations are selected for stunning scenery and a variety of natural attractions. Here are some of the natural experiences you can enjoy spending time outdoors.

Enjoying scenic views

Nothing quite compares to the awe-inspiring power of scenic views. Whether it’s standing atop a mountain peak, watching the sunset over an open field, or looking out over a vast lake, taking in these breathtaking vistas is an experience that can truly take your breath away. Get away from the traffic and buildings to surround yourself with beauty and peace. Even a few trees at your campsite and some fresh air are relaxing and good for your soul.

Tents on a hill with a scenic overlook
Sometimes the view from your campsite is the best in the park!

Listen to nature’s symphony after dark

As the light fades in the evening, the sounds of the wild really come out. Don’t be surprised if the night is loud during the first few hours of darkness, especially during summer. You are listening to insects, frogs, and occasionally owls. As the night deepens, the sounds fade away to a deep peaceful silence. If you are lucky, it might be interrupted by the crazy and eerie howls of a pack of coyotes in the distance.

Get away from your campsite to see wildlife

When camping, one of the most exciting activities is spotting wildlife in their natural habitats. There is something special about observing wild animals and appreciating their beauty. Camping is one of the best ways to get up close and personal with nature, allowing you to view wildlife in its natural setting. For the best chance of seeing wildlife, head out from the campsite and get on trails or find scenic overlooks. More animals are active in the morning and around dusk so these are the best times to be out. In cool weather, some aquatic animals like turtles and alligators will sun in the afternoon. Ask park rangers or campground personnel for suggestions on the best times or locations for each specific park.

Heron flying over water
Camping is a great opportunity to see wildlife

Enjoy fun outdoor activities

Outdoor activities are some of the great camping experiences and fun times that you can look forward to. Camping offers unique activities which are easily accessible when you are already outdoors. No matter how big or small your group is, there are plenty of activities that everyone can do together when you go camping. In addition to the list of things below, explore our website for more ideas.

People swimming at Lake Tahoe
Feel like taking a dip? Look for campgrounds which offer your favorite outdoor activities.

Physical activities

If you want some physical activity, swimming, hiking, mountain biking, and kayaking are popular choices. If you are camping near a lake or river, be sure to pack your bathing suit and towels even if you are undecided about getting in the water. Most campgrounds on a lake will rent kayaks, canoes, or paddle boats. Check in advance to see what fun things they offer.

People hiking on a scenic trail
Many parks offer hiking trails for you to explore

Hit the trails

Hiking and mountain biking are two of the best ways to explore the local area and immerse yourself in nature. A hiking trail offers an excellent way to get off the beaten path and feel like you’re truly in the wilderness. With a bit of planning, you can find trails that will take you through stunning scenery, offering breathtaking views along with challenging terrain for adventurous hikers or bikers.

Be sure to get a map of the trails at the park headquarters or download one on some of the many trail apps for your phone. Take some water bottles and bug spray for longer hikes. Follow the use guidelines – some trails are limited to one direction or are restricted to hikers or bikers only. From short nature interpretative trail walks to long challenging technical trails for bikers, there are trails available for all levels of skill.

A mountain bike coming downhill on a trail
Mountain biking is a popular activity at many parks with campgrounds

Fishing opportunities

If you love fishing, camping is a fun way to find new locations to try. Many parks on the water have piers or boat ramps to access the water in your own boat. In Texas state parks, you can fish in the park without a license (check the rules in advance for your location).

Fishing reel closeup with lack in the background
Try your hand at fishing. You can fish without a license at many parks

Cooking outdoors

Cooking outdoors when camping adds an extra layer of fun and enjoyment to the outdoor experience. Not only is it a great way to bond with friends or family, but you can also experiment with different cooking methods that are not possible at home. From campfire grilling over an open fire to complex Dutch oven recipes, there are plenty of ways to get creative cooking while camping. You can also keep it simple and relax with no-cook meals. Don’t forget to try cooking hot dogs over the campfire! Check out our food and recipes articles for some great ideas.

Campfire Stories and Marshmallows

I consider building a campfire the defining symbol of camping. Building a campfire is a fun way to spend the evening and the perfect place to hang out with those close to you. There is something truly special about sitting around a warm fire on a cool evening, roasting marshmallows, sharing stories, and relaxing (and drinking your favorite beverage!)

A glowing campfire at dusk
Campfires are iconic symbols of the camping experience

If you want a campfire, first check the local conditions to ensure there are no burn bans in effect. Bring portable chairs, fire starters, and a lighter. What about some glow sticks for the kids? (and adults!) Don’t gather firewood at the campsite! Gathering firewood is prohibited in most campgrounds, but they typically sell firewood for a low cost or donation.

Camping games

Camping is a great opportunity to try some fun and exciting outdoor games with friends and family. From classic game like horseshoes, ring toss, or ladder ball to more modern options such as spikeball or KanJam, there are plenty of ways to get everyone involved in the fun! Whether you’re looking for an intense competition or just want something simple to pass the time around the campfire, these outdoor camping games will be sure to entertain all ages. Note: Some campground offer games like these, but I recommend bringing your own.

Person playing spikeball
There are many portable games you can bring camping with you. Spikeball is shown here

Kids activities

Many campgrounds have activities specifically for children, and playgrounds are common in larger locations. Here are a few activities you may find: guided hikes, talks about the park, animal encounters, a nature scavenger hunt, or junior ranger programs with lists of tasks for kids to try. Visit the nature center or headquarters to find out what your campground offers on your next camping trip.

Sleeping outside

Sleeping outside when camping is one of the most enjoyable activities. Snuggling into a warm sleeping bag and stargazing under a blanket of stars, surrounded by only the night sounds of nature, is an incredible experience. If the weather is clear, leave the rain-fly off your tent for the best experience. There’s nothing like waking up in the morning to the sound of birds chirping, feeling refreshed. Note: If it’s your first trip, you may find it difficult to sleep on the first night because it is so different. Try bringing some earplugs to help.

Just get away and relax

If all of the activities above sound too demanding, perhaps you just want to relax. Hang up a hammock and read a book on a beautiful day. Take a nap in your tent. Take a relaxing stroll around the campground or a short nature trail. Find a quiet spot to meditate or do some yoga. Drink a glass of wine next to the campfire. Stick to simple meals and take it easy. Camping is what you make it, so make it your own and enjoy.

A couple in a hammock near a lake
Just relax in a hammock – they are easy to hang and enjoy with little effort

Spend quality time with loved ones

Regardless of what activities you choose, camping is great way to spend time with friends and family. Many people use camping as an opportunity to bond and create memories that will last a lifetime. If this is your goal, plan your trip around activities everyone in your group or entire family can do together. Look for specific campgrounds which offer amenities you want to try, and bring games and gear to supplement the local offerings. Regardless of your choice, shared activities bring people closer together and strengthen relationships.

Group around a campfire in the evening
Camping is an awesome way to spend quality time with loved ones

Make camping memories and stories to share for years to come

I once heard the phrase “families who camp together stay together”. It took me a while to understand why, but over time our family developed a variety of camping stories that we share over and over. Camping is usually a wonderful experience, but you can count on nature to be unpredictable. As you build fun memories like talking around the campfire at night, some occasional bad weather or other mishap is inevitable. Maybe it’s a bee sting or falling in the mud, but those little challenges become shared history among your family and friends which brings you together in the future.

On my first family camping trip, the weather turned cold and windy on the first night. We stayed warm together in the tent, but we didn’t sleep much with the wind blowing. The next morning it started sleeting! The weather cleared up a few hours later, but I can’t tell you how many times my husband has shared this story and we laugh over it today. Get out there and make some memories!

Get out there – Go camping!

With all of these reasons that camping enriches your life, I encourage you to try it. Don’t let the fear of the unknown keep you from having a memorable camping experience – get out there and do it!

Need help finding a campground? Visit Reserve America or your local state park’s website

Want to know more about camping? Check out these articles:
The Best Mosquito Repellents for Camping (That Actually Work)
Butane vs Propane Camping Stoves: Everything You Need to Know
See all our camping articles

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