Rest, Relaxation, & Rejuvenation why camping is beneficial for us all

Intro

Camping. When you hear this word you think of sleeping on a lumpy ground in a soggy sleeping bag in the middle of nowhere. But camping is much more than what people perceive it to be. The goal of this paper is to inform and educate the public about the joys of camping and demonstrate that it is not just about what people see on television (i.e. "roughing it"). I also hope to break the stereotype that campers are not just back woods rednecks who have very little contact with civilization. It is a well established fact that my generation solely relies on electronic devices for entertainment. However, spending time outdoors and interacting with nature shows just how much more this world has to offer. It is relaxing, exciting, fun, and is a great way to escape from your everyday life. Camping has many beneficial factors, such as social and individual development, strengthening of personal relationships, and allowing your body to unwind from the daily stresses of life. With that being said, I spent every summer of my childhood in a wonderful campground on the Ohio river and I want my children to grow up having the same amazing experiences and adventures that I did.

History

A quote in Forest History states "In the United States, a new and increasing way of satisfying this desire for recreation and adventure has swept the country. Motor camping has become a leading national pastime." Camping has been dated as far back as the late 19th century, easily becoming one of America's favorite pastimes. National forests set the groundwork for early campers and what is now known as campgrounds. In 1910, the first camping club was formed calling themselves the "Tin Can Tourists" and by 1912 there was 231,000 people camping in national forests. Public demand began to grow rapidly and the Forest Service decided to set a budget for campground development. Shortly after World War 1, when automobiles became more accessible to the public, the number of people using campgrounds skyrocketed. Motor camping became one of the more popular forms of camping and for many years people had been modifying their cars specifically for outdoor recreation. That is when car companies started manufacturing trailers or "auto-camps" in 1910. This changed the game for the camping experience; creating a whole new sense of luxury and convenience. Another huge increase of Americans camping was after WWII when people sought out affordable vacation destinations. As you can see, camping has been a source of recreation and enjoyment for many decades, and the number of campers in our national forests continues to increase today.

One of the First Campers from the 1930's

What Researchers Say

Social & Personal Development

Another benefit of camping that I feel is very important is its impact on one's social and personal development. How does a summer camping experience in the wild with family and friends affect your personality? Camping represents a way for parents to spend leisure time with their children without the confines of urban life. Having to work together toward group tasks such as setting up the camp, gathering firewood, and cooking results in a greater sense of teamwork, camaraderie, and cooperation. Camping skills can give a child a more important role in the family unit and promotes healthy development. Social skills are also refined in a community environment. Camping allows you to meet all kinds of interesting characters from all different walks of life. Some may end up lifelong friends, and other just fleeting acquaintances. Either way, one must develop the social expertise to deal with both. TandFonline studies have shown that a person's interaction with "community, spirituality, nature, and family defines a camping experience. In turn, this leads to stronger family bonds, confidence and self-reliance in the outdoors, and a greater sense of adaptability for the individual."

Health Benefits

Camping makes you happier...it's science! According to Eureka, here are the reasons: fresh air, physical exertion, teamwork, solitude, sleep, eating well, sunlight, connecting with nature, simplification of life and the memories. While being outdoors, you take deep breaths of clear air - free from smog and toxins and more oxygen which the body needs. Additionally, there is the physical exertion and teamwork. Most camping trips involve some sort of planned physical activity, which gets your heart rate going and releases endorphins which make you feel good. And then after a long exhausting day, a long night of solid rest rejuvenates the body and repairs it for the next day. Being in the sun also provides the all-important Vitamin D and limited cooking options usually means that you skip the junk food and give your body a more balanced meal of nutrients. There is also a simplicity and connection to nature when camping. We lead extremely hectic lives and camping helps relieve us from all of that clutter and dependence upon technological devices. "Of course camping makes you happier! How could it not?"

Family Bonding

Nothing fosters family bonding more than camping. It is a "priceless experience." The outdoors provides a backdrop for kids of all ages to learn and make new discoveries. Camping is usually about having fun, but it also forms bonds between children and their parents. It brings a sense of accomplishment and self-reliance. Families are able to come together, explore new activities and adventures together and escape the sometimes tense routines of life. It has been proven to reduce stress and depression by 70%. Being disconnected from technology allows families to relax and actually talk to each other. The decrease from constant stimulation cultivates better emotional health gives family members the one-on-one attention they need. The Enquirer states, "Many people say some of their fondest childhood memories were created by camping with family and friends."

Shady Waters Campground

The reason why I chose this topic is dear to my heart and means very much to me. My family has camped at Shady Waters Campground in Gallipolis Ferry, West Virginia since before I was born and it is my true home away from home. My childhood is filled with memories of biking and playing with other kids from dawn to dusk, boating on the Ohio River, having cookouts with all of our friends and family, and sitting around the campfire laughing until we cried. With new residents coming and going from the campground every year, you meet people from all walks of life. The people of the Shady Waters Campground community would give you the shirt off their backs and are always helping each other in any way shape or form. They have helped shaped me into the person I am today and are my extended family. I could not imagine what my life would be like without the Shady Waters campground and the people whom I have met along the way. I am a firm believer, and research has proven, that camping has health benefits, strengthens the bonds with your family and friends, shapes your emotional and physical development, helps you escape from the everyday burdens of life, weans your addiction to electronic devices, and can positively change your life.

Conclusion

Now I have a question for you. Do you still think camping is just a tent in the middle of nowhere? It can be that way for some people, but with camping the options are endless. I hope I was able to give you some insight of the joys of camping and what a real camping experience can be. It brings people closer, relaxes your mind, frees you from the stresses of everyday life, and is genuinely good for the soul. Camping exposes you to people you would not ordinarily meet, to go to new and interesting places, and to do exciting things that take you outside of your comfort zone. This community means the world to me and has shaped me into the well-rounded person I am today.

Photo Essay

These pictures are not only relevant to this project, but are memories that I will hold with me forever. Growing up as an only child, I never knew what it felt like to have siblings. That is until I met, who I now call my second family, at Shady Waters Campground. Alyshia, Skyler, and Sidney are in the first picture and I could not imagine my life without them. Sidney and Skylar are now the brother and sister I never had. And none of this would have been possible without the campground I call my second home. The following photographs are from my campground and I feel as though these pictures convey our sense of community. My family and our friends always have group breakfasts, dinners, and do all of our recreational activities, such as boating, together.

My Second Family
Big Sydney & Little Sidney
Fun in the Sun
Neighborhood Breakfast
Sunset on the Ohio River
My dad's pride and joy.... Our boat.
Another View of the Campground
Enjoying a Game of Left, Right, Center
An Amazing View that I Am Lucky Enough to Experience Year After Year

Annotated Bibliography

  • Briery, Brandon G. "Family Camping: Building A Community At Warp Speed The Special Case Of Family Camping." Camping Magazine 77.4 (2004): 1. MasterFILE Premier. Web. 28 Nov. 2016. In this article, Dr. Brandon Briery addresses the fact that families are diverse in structure and camping is a way to bring people together, celebrate their diversity and help strengthen their familial bonds. Even children with disabilities can overcome obstacles and become part of a tight-knit unit. Family camp programs help address apprehensions felt by different groups with various themes directed toward community building goals. A camping environment allows each participant to focus on his or her role in the team and therefore acquire a feeling of accomplishment and self-sufficiency. Camping is a unique way of uniting people of all socio-economic backgrounds together in one enjoyable activity.
  • Brown, Perry J. et al. Social Benefits of Outdoor Recreation. Champaign, IL, Leisure Behavior Research Laboratory, University of Illinois, 1981. In the piece entitled “Social Benefits of Outdoor Recreation,” Dr. Perry J. Brown and his colleagues explore the personal and societal benefits of camping and other outdoor recreational activities. One personal benefit of camping involves enhancing relationships. For example, when an individual has more leisure time, he or she becomes more relaxed and in turn has a positive effect on the relationship or marriage. Since economic factors are also important, since more people cannot afford to take luxurious vacations, camping has become a more cost-effective alternative. Societal benefits include a greater quality of life, sense of community, life satisfaction and increased feeling of well-being.
  • Cerullo, Margaret, and Phyllis Ewen. "Having A Good Time": The American Family Goes Camping." Radical America 16.1/2 (1982): 13-44. America: History and Life with Full Text. Web. 7 Dec. 2016. This journal examines camping as seen in New England by two observers searching for insights into democracy in normal communities, or neighborhoods, a topic of concern to political activists who make assumptions about the need for a new populism. This article focuses on the more congested camp grounds that are cities created of equals accidentally, or deliberately as in the case of the Worcester Family Camping Association. These families in search for equality distrusted elites and "others" (minorities). They shared an anticapitalistic dream, yet the glue that held that dream together was the nuclear family, internally as undemocratic as ever.
  • "Growing Relationships And Nature Experiences." Camping Magazine 87.1 (2014): 28. MasterFILE Premier. Web. 28 Nov. 2016. In American Camp Association’s article entitled “Growing Relationships and Nature Experiences,” an interview with Rue Mapp, an eleven-year-old girl is examined. She details her experiences of growing up on her family’s ranch in California and participating in recreational and organized camp experiences. She feels there is a universal need for all children to have nature experiences that can build relationships with families. When people engage in the same activity with similar interests such as camping, hiking and fishing for example, bonds are formed and friendships are forged. Some relationships may last a lifetime. Nature adventures also offer all kinds of benefits, increased activity, reduced stress, improved cognitive functioning, free play and self-reflection.
  • Hogue, Martin et al. “A Short History of the Campsite.” Places Journal, 1 May 2011, placesjournal.org/article/a-short-history-of-the-campsite/?gclid=CjwKEAiAmo_CBRC9qbGQssjqi28SJABYTgZxJRGQIK4WHDBaQxwfdQDjb9NXpPu9luC4gBO-ERqY8hoCzIvw_wcB. Martin Hogues’ journal entry named, “A Short History of the Campsite” delves into the history of camping outdoors as we know it. Modern campsites embody a sophisticated range of utilizes and conveniences. However, that was not always the case. Around 1915, the first public campgrounds in the United States were nothing more than large dedicated clearings, free of trees within which to concentrate groups of tourists. Campers want to maintain the illusion of freedom in the open outdoors, but in fact, with the onset of organized campgrounds and spatial enclosures, tourists were actually more confined. The introduction of utilities further reinforced the limits of protected space. Today, campgrounds and camping itself have become a nomad’s paradise.
  • Jirásek, Ivo, Donald N. Roberson, and Miroslava Jirásková. "The Impact Of Families Camping Together: Opportunities For Personal And Social Development." Leisure Sciences 39.1 (2017): 79-93. Business Source Alumni Edition. Web. 28 Nov. 2016. The purpose of the study performed by Ivo Jirásek, Donald N. Roberson and Miroslava Jirásková in “The Impact of Families Camping Together: Opportunities for Personal and Social Development,” was to investigate the impact of the camping experience on a community of families. The authors themselves shared their history and experiences of camping and they conducted an on-line survey with open ended questions. Their research results in the following conclusions: that camping contributes to the family, the community of other campers, to the spiritual dimension of one’s life, and to an appreciation of nature. Not only is it cost effective, but it is a natural way of spending time with one’s family.
  • Kranz, Cindy. “Camping Fosters Family Bonding.” Enquirer, The Cincinnati Enquirer, www.enquirer.com/editions/1999/08/06/loc_camping_fosters.html. This newspaper article describes how well camping increases a bond between parent and child. It also has quotes from different people talking about their camping experiences. “Family camping is a priceless experience,” says Jim Reid, director of public relations for the Coleman Co., manufacturer of camping and leisure-time products. “Many people say some of their fondest childhood memories were created while camping with family and friends.” The Coleman Company also give numerous camping tips to prepare and make the experience more enjoyable.
  • Nye, Nancy C. “Camping in the National Forests.” Recreation - Camping - USFS History - Forest History Society, Forest History Society , 8 Feb. 2013, www.foresthistory.org/ASPNET/policy/Recreation/Camping.aspx. Nancy C. Nye’s “Camping in the National Forests,” details the history of camping in our nation’s forests and what drives people to do so in the first place. Due to harsh and demanding working conditions, overcrowded city life or a desire for a simpler existence, camping became popular in the 19th century. The act of living out of doors and experiencing nature in close quarters was called “gypsying.” While it was informal and unsupervised in the early years, camping and the subsequent development of campgrounds have become quite popular in recent times. Thousands of campers are drawn to this nation’s forests each year due in large numbers largely in part due to the popularity of motor camping, backpacking and tent camping.
  • Presented By The Coleman Company, Inc. And The Outdoor Foundation. “2014 American Camper Report.” Outdoor Foundation, 2014, www.outdoorfoundation.org/pdf/research.camping.2014.pdf. The “2014 American Camper Report,” presented by the Coleman Company and the Outdoor Foundation, analyzes trends in camping participants, types of camping trips, buying behavior of camping-related supplies, first-time campers, and the future of camping. Camping participants in the years 2012 and 2013 basically stayed at around 40 million Americans, with tent camping being the most utilized method. According to their statistics 85% of campers took their first trip between birth and age 15, and 65% of those individuals participated in outdoor activities. The most cited reason for not going camping was lack of time due to work or family commitments. Motivational reasons for going camping were: camping itself, to escape the grind, to teach kids about the outdoors, and to save money compared to other vacation options.
  • RVCoutdoors. “9 Reasons Camping Is Beneficial to Your Health.” RVC Outdoor Destinations, 22 Apr. 2016, rvcoutdoors.com/9-reasons-camping-beneficial-health/. This article describes and explains the nine main reasons camping is important for you health. Fresh air, socialization, exercise, sunshine, a good nights sleep, less stress, healthy food, new challenges, and the decrease of depression and anxiety are all the of the main topics this articles explores. Fresh air does more for our bodies than we think it does, for example, it improves blood pressure, aids in digestion, and boosts the immune system. Socializing can delay memory loss and expand your lifespan and being out in the sun provides our bodies with Vitamin D which is very important for our bones. Overall, this piece examines the health benefits that all of these topics provide.

Works Cited

  • “8 Ways Camping Enriches Your Life, Benefits of Going Camping ,” director. Vitchelo , 28 Mar. 2016, www.youtube.com/watch?v=5fDFOyCUw3I.
  • “Family Sitting Around the Campfire.” RVC Outdoors, RVC Outdoor Destinations, 22 Apr. 2016, rvcoutdoors.com/9-reasons-camping-beneficial-health/.
  • “Trailer Camping at White Ledge Campground, White Mountain National Forest, New Hampshire, 1937.” Forest History, Forest History Society , 8 Feb. 2013, www.foresthistory.org/ASPNET/policy/Recreation/Camping.aspx

Reflective Piece

My advocacy essay does an amazing job fulfilling the learning objectives of this course. The first one being, “Ability to formulate solid research questions that explore ideas and current conversations within the course theme.” By formulating questions that need answered for a writing exposition is a method which I had never used before. I found this to be an extremely helpful and insightful way of thinking about approaching a subject or argument. It actually makes writing easier in that your topic sentences are already generated once you determine your research questions. I also learned that by exploring both sides of an argument, it allows the audience to understand the matter completely. The second learning objective that I believe I achieved in this project was, “Ability to attend to issues of audience, purpose and rhetorical context." This class definitely opened my eyes to the large spectrum of media by which text and ideas can be communicated and presented to the public. I had never heard of Adobe Spark, but constructing my “Into the Wild” analysis piece on this digital platform was actually fun and I very much look forward to creating others in the future. This process also taught me to predetermine the target audience for my essay, contemplate the angle at which I want to approach said topic, and choose the appropriate writing style accordingly. I feel that this skill has made be a better writer, made me think more critically and thus will have lasting benefits on my career as a student.

Last but not least, the third learning objective that I believe helped me the most was,“Ability to work with different texts as researchers, to mine for information, and to effectively use research sources, including online sources, in their writing."Regarding my essay or research projects in the past, I would use the first few sources that popped up on Google with no regard to their validity or accuracy of information. After taking this class, I have learned that there are other means of acquiring information available and it is okay to think “outside the box.” Tracking down databases, interviews, and media content is not such a daunting task after all. The ability to obtain a variety of interesting and reliable sources that connect to the theme is vital to the message you wish to convey. Anyone can have a long list of boring articles cited to their composition, but if you have meaningful sources to lend support to your subject or argument, it much easier to persuade your reader.

This advocacy essay is by far my favorite project I have ever done in an English class. The personal aspect of this essay made it incredibly easier for me and actually made me want to write! The strengths for this essay was finding sources and credible information to back up my thesis. A weakness however, was finding the ten sources because after you have accumulated so many, the sources start to sound repetitive and you run out of different things to say.

Credits:

Created with images by Sam Howzit - "Campfire" • kaboompics - "fool meal sausage"

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