Three Things I Learned from Camping

camping

The rock flew past my face, a mere few inches from nailing my forehead.

I blinked, realizing how close I had just come to dying. We were 3.5 miles deep into the woods with no help close by and it was 10 p.m. But when you’re trying something new, there’s always risk involved, right?

This past weekend I took a trek into the woods with a couple of friends. I’ve always wanted to try my hand at real camping — no campsite, hike in with all your supplies, boil water from a stream, the whole nine yards. I finally found friends who were up for the adventure.

On Saturday morning, we loaded our packs — mine was light due to a current injury, so they did all the heavy lifting — and drove two hours east to a beautiful spot in Kentucky called Red River Gorge. Camping at the Gorge, you’re instructed to take precautions against bears. I’m a rule follower through and through, so I tried my hand at hoisting a bear bag into the trees. It was harder than I thought. At one point, the rope got caught so I gave it a harsh tug. The rock I had tied to the opposite end dislodged and made a beeline for my face. It was definitely a close call.

Despite nearly bashing my head in, I am so thankful I had the chance to finally get my feet wet at backcountry camping. And I realized to make that possible I needed a few things:

  1. I needed a passion and desire to do it badly enough that I put in the work to make it happen.
  2. I needed the knowledge to get started. I did a lot of reading and asking questions prior. I’ve hiked and camped to different degrees in order to prepare for this. While there’s ultimately only so much prep one can do, I did what I could.
  3. I needed a team who would help me achieve my dream. The ladies camping with me had never hiked in three-plus miles to the middle of nowhere to camp for the night. They took risks with me because I wanted it bad enough.

Of course, here comes the part where I bring it back to you, campus rec professional.

I’m sure you have ideas and things you want to take risks on. And I would argue with the above three things — passion, knowledge and a team — you can accomplish anything.

Sure, implementing a new policy might be scary. So was hiking out into the wilderness where I could die. Sure, starting a new program is hard. So is carrying all your food and shelter for 3.5 miles through thick vegetation and elevation changes. But for me it was worth it — the stress, the time spent preparing, everything. Because now I know I can. I know what to do better next time. Who’s to say you wouldn’t learn the same thing if you simply tried?

Heather Hartmann is the editor for Campus Rec Magazine. She can be reached at heather@peakemedia.com.

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