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Sleep under the stars and get a little dirty
When the weather is inviting, the smell of campfires and pine trees allure many people into the woods and mountains for camping trips. At the start of summer, when the days are getting longer, or perhaps in fall when the nights are chilly and the leaves are beginning to turn, are ideal times to take to the woods.
Sometimes there's nothing better than sitting around a fire and roasting marshmallows. If you still need more convincing, here are 10 reasons you should consider packing up the sleeping bags and heading into the wilderness – or the local campground.
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1. You get (much) closer to nature
While camping, you're most likely going to be in a national or provincial park, wilderness lands or national forest lands. Campgrounds in these areas are about as close as you can get to some of the most beautiful places on earth.
How about camping just a stone's throw from the blue waters of Crater Lake, on a river in Maine or while enjoying a view of Mount Whitney, the tallest mountain in the contiguous U.S.?
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2. You get far away from technology
Most campgrounds don't have Wi-Fi or even a cell signal, so you and your children can leave the tech at home and get up close and personal with wildflowers, bugs, swimming holes and the Milky Way. Some privately-owned campgrounds like KOA do have Wi-Fi if you need to keep in touch or pull up maps to plan the next leg of your journey.
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3. You realize how little you can live with
My husband and I have traveled around the world, but one of our best trips ever was a two-week trip to the Oregon coast. We were able to fit everything we needed into the trunk of a car and realized we could be happy with very little – including plans. You can go big and camp in a 45-foot fifth wheel, or you can keep it simple with a two-person tent.
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4. Food tastes much better in the outdoors
Ribs, hamburgers, corn on the cob, Jiffy Pop and roasted marshmallows – typical camping food is some of the best-tasting food and it tastes even better in the fresh air. Cooking over an open flame or over a grill gives burgers an intense flavor and s'mores can't be done as well on the stove at home.
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5. Camping is affordable
When strapped for cash for a vacation, many families can keep it cheap by heading into the woods for a camping trip. Camping gear these days can be purchased from many big-box stores for very little money, and the biggest cost is usually the gas to get to the campground.
Keep it even cheaper by staying away from private campgrounds and heading into publicly-owned national forest lands.
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6. It's a chance to explore your own backyard
You can make camping even more affordable by visiting your own state parks. Learn more about where you live by camping close to home and maybe even attending a ranger talk or visiting the park's museum. Hike local trails and be home before Sunday evening.
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7. It's a time to feel small and insignificant
Take along a star chart for your part of the world or an app like Star Walk and delve into the mysteries of the universe. You'll realize that most problems will feel very small in comparison to what's above your head. Some campgrounds and parks even have special nighttime and stargazing activities.
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8. You could get scared out of your long underwear
A group camping trip is not complete without some scary storytelling. The darkness, lack of civilization and the fear of spiders and bears will get you in the mood for some screams. Websites like Ultimate Camp Resource have quick and creepy stories to tell your tentmates – with only a flashlight.
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9. You can really be alone
If you're interested in backpacking, you can carry everything you need on your back and head into the wilderness. Whether you want to practice survival with some prepper gear, or just have some time to yourself, backpacking on- or off-trail will take you places many people will never see.
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10. Your friends will be inspired
Post a few photos of your camping trip to Grand Teton, Moab or the Great Smoky Mountains and many people will wish they had gone camping, too.