Going Without Gives Me More

Last week I went camping in central Maine. I camped in a state park, which means, there are designated campsites, but no electricity. Most campers prefer a few amenities, but I’ve found that doing without, gives me more.

How is that possible? When I go camping, I have to bring my own shelter – a tent.  I have to think of what other items I will need – clothes, food, cooking items, etc. I also have limited space in my car, a Volkswagen Jetta, so strategy is important.

It becomes a game of what do I absolutely need to spend a week in the woods. I usually go through my piles of things three times until I feel this is all I need to succeed in the woods. Camping in Maine is challenging, because the weather changes frequently. Last year, the temperature went from the high 40’s during the night to the low 80’s during the day.

I live in Southern New England, so traveling 5 hours or more up north can be a chilly experience. I plan my camping meals, so I can cook on sunny days and have other meals that don’t require so much cooking time for rainy days. Even if I eat cereal, it always tastes much better, when I’m camping and enjoying the outdoors.

Camping is great exercise, because you have to do everything manually like haul water for cooking or cleaning, You have to walk around to get to everything, which includes bending down to pick up items on your tent floor, lifting and carrying wood for the fire and squatting to dig through your backpack or other boxes you brought.

My best times camping are when I go hiking. It’s just walking, which is a great exercise, and something I learned to do at 9 months old. It takes little effort to walk and you can climb to great heights to get beautiful views. You can cross streams, balance walk on fallen logs and dig in your heels and toes to climb up higher. For the price of a pair of walking shoes, walking is the best exercise and helps to both relax and tone you all over.

Another thing that challenges my sedentary lifestyle is canoeing or kayaking. Canoeing is a real workout, because the canoe is heavier than a kayak and you can travel with someone in the canoe, which means more weight.  The rowing can take its toll, but it worth it. It’s like a ride-share. You can take turns rowing.

Kayaking is for the independent adventurer. Kayaking is an individual effort. It is less taxing than rowing a canoe, but if windy, it can twist you around and force you to get your bearings or be swept away down the stream or to the other side of the pond.

Why would anyone want to go camping, if it is so much work? I like camping, because it makes me think outside the box. I am so used to pushing buttons and programming things to go on and off at specific times.

I camp, because it wakes up my brain and makes me think and exercise and breathe clean air. I also have time to rest my body and brain, because my cell phone doesn’t work in the mountains, so if I want something, I either have to get up and get it or physically talk to someone and ask them for help.

Of course, there’s nothing more soothing that sitting by the campfire. Forget the marshmallows and s’mores! Watching the flames jump up and down is very soothing. It a good exercise for my eyes that usually stare at the computer screen for 8+ hours a day. Watching the embers light up and then fade only to re-ignite plays with my imagination.

The dark sky and bright stars are the last things I see before I go to sleep. It’s the best nightlight ever. The quiet sounds of the forest put me to sleep every time I camp.

As I try to learn new things every day, answer all of my emails, and scout for new clients, I also need to take time to stop, rest and remove myself from my daily environment, so I can renew and refresh, just like my computer.

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