Happy Camper

When most people think of March, they think of the impending end of winter and the promise of warm days and spring flowers ahead.

For me, March signals that too, but also something even more important — the start of camping season!

About four years ago, my husband and I discovered camping. Both having grown up in Northern New Jersey with parents that laughed at the idea of spending a weekend in a tent in the wilderness, it’s just something we had never been introduced to. Then thanks to some friends here in Northern California, we had an opportunity to go on our first camping trip. We absolutely loved it — the fresh air, the quiet, being unplugged from technology. It was bliss!

Every year since that first trip, we try to plan one camping trip every month from March through October. Our shorter weekend trips are spent tent camping in some beautiful spots like Sunset State Beach in Watsonville. And for our longer trips we bring our fifth wheel trailer along, which allows us to work while we’re there, but then also unplug and enjoy the beauty of spots like Clearlake, Fort Bragg, and Lake Tahoe once our work is done.

Now you might be reading this and saying to yourself, “I’m SO not a camper!” Heck, that’s what I said for many years. But you’re really doing yourself a disservice if you never give it a shot. Here’s some reasons to help change your mind.

Location, Location, Location

Here in Sacramento we are very lucky to be just a few hours car ride from some of the most beautiful places to camp. Drive to the east and you can start camping as soon as Folsom Lake State Recreation Area or El Dorado National Forest. Go a bit further and there’s tons of camping in Lake Tahoe. To the west there’s beautiful lakes like Lake Berryessa and Clearlake, or keep on going to the coast. Drive a few hours north for camping spots in the Redding area, or head south to spots like Henry W. Coe State Park.

So Much to Gain

There’s numerous benefits to camping, many of which I didn’t realize until I started doing it. The big one for me is being able to unplug from technology for a while — it does wonderful things for the brain! But you can also just unplug from life in general. There’s no grocery store lists or telemarketers calling — just you, your family, and the beautiful scenery around you. And researchers have found spending time in nature can help relieve depression and just make you happier overall.

Give it a Shot

Although it might still be a bit too cool for tent camping, now is the time to start planning and booking camp sites as they will fill up fast. If you’re new to camping, try sites like ReserveAmerica.com and KOA.com to find great camping spots all across the U.S. And if you don’t have all the camping gear you might need, see if you have a friend that will let you borrow theirs for the weekend or some businesses like REI and Peak Adventures will let you rent camping gear so you don’t have to buy it all upfront.

Remember camping is all about letting go of stress and enjoying the beauty around us. Get out there and find your inner happy camper!