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Board Games in TEOTWAWKI, by Gridley

In “Sleeping With the Friendlies, by Heidi C.”, the author mentions some of the problems of group integration and building group cohesion, and the author touches on a point that I would like to expand on– board games. In this article I will discuss how I feel board games have uses in: Finding like-minded people Building group cohesion Maintaining morale in a retreat location or shelter-in-place I will take these points in reverse order. Board Games? Why board games? First, let’s imagine the following scenario. The fall has happened. You’ve reached your retreat location and found with relief that the …

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Some Health Benefits of Camping

Most people go on camping trips because they’re tired of the city or ready for an adventure. Whether you enjoy biking, hunting or any other outdoor activity, camping offers you a way to focus completely on a hobby for a few days without external distractions. What you might not realize is that camping can help you live a longer, healthier life.

Fresh Air

When you spend time near a lot of trees, you take in more oxygen. That feeling of happiness that you get when you take your first breath of air at the campground isn’t all in your head–well, technically it is, but it’s a release of serotonin from the extra oxygen. Your body can function with less strain when there’s plenty of oxygen.

That’s not the only benefit of fresh air. Research shows that some time outdoors can improve your blood pressure, improve digestion and give your immune system an extra boost. When you spend a few days outside, you get some serious health benefits from the extra oxygen and low levels of pollutants.

Socializing

Camping alone is plenty of fun, but if you bring along a friend or family member, you’ll enjoy a unique experience together that will help you keep a healthy, happy relationship.

Socializing can extend your lifespan and delay memory problems according to research published in the American Journal of Public Health, and apart from the medical benefits, a few close relationships make life more fun. Invite a few friends on your next trip out.

Moods

Regular campers will often talk about how the first few days back from a trip seem happier. This isn’t without merit; spending some time outside in the sunlight can even out the levels of melatonin in your brain.

Melatonin is the chemical that makes you feel tired and can induce feelings of depression, so by camping, you can enjoy better overall moods during and after your trip.

Decrease Stress

Camping also allows you to cope with stress. Stress can negatively affect your health in just about every way possible, and you’re putting much less strain on your mental and physical faculties by giving yourself some stress-free time at the campsite.

The lack of stress is related to the rise in oxygen levels, higher levels of serotonin and managed levels of melatonin mentioned above. There’s also an emotional component at work here, since it’s harder to be annoyed or angry when you’re doing something that you enjoy.

Exercise

Let’s not forget the most obvious benefit of camping: you’re spending a lot of time performing physical activities. Even if you’re taking a fishing trip, you’re burning more calories than you’d burn sitting around an office, and if you hike or bike, you’re performing cardiovascular exercise that will help keep your heart and lungs healthy.

Your activity levels will vary, but hikers burn anywhere from 120-300 calories per hour. Bikers burn 300-500 calories per hour, and fly fishing can burn up to 200 calories per hour. No wonder you work up such an appetite during a long camping trip.

Sun

Sunshine feels great on your skin, and there’s an evolutionary reason for that. When you’re out in direct sunlight, you’re taking on a ton of Vitamin D, which allows your body to absorb calcium and phosphorous.

Sleep Better

Assuming that you’ve got decent camping gear, you’ll fall fast asleep after a day full of outdoor activities. Sleep has an effect on all of your body processes and can reduce inflammation, improve your cardiovascular system and help you stay alert.

Many campers report better sleep cycles when they return for a trip.

Food

If you pack s’mores, you’re not seeing any particularly solid health benefits in this department. However, if you’re fond of fishing and hunting, you’ll likely eat a large amount of protein and healthy fats on your camping trip.

You won’t get any preservatives or unnatural ingredients in a fresh lake-caught fish, and all of the exercise on your trip will help you digest.

New Challenges

No two camping trips are exactly the same, and that’s a good thing. Studies from the University of Texas and University of Michigan show that new experiences help to keep brains healthy.

New activities that are both physically and intellectually stimulating have the greatest effect on brain health, and camping fits both of these criteria.

Meditation

When you go camping, don’t forget to turn off your cell phone. Leave the tablet and the laptop computer at home. Try to disconnect for a few days and enjoy the simplicity of the natural experience.

This isn’t just a general tip to help you enjoy the experience; if you’re willing to enjoy your surroundings without any outside distractions, you could increase your lifespan. Turning off the cell phone and engaging with nature is one of the simplest ways to get the health benefits of meditation.  Meditation may improve a number of serious medical conditions by increasing self awareness and giving a person stress-reduction tools. If you suffer from depression, fatigue, heart disease or even allergies, research shows that camping can improve your overall health.

Just don’t forget to commit to the experience if your cell phone’s off, you’re on your way to developing a stimulating, tranquil hobby that will keep you healthy for years to come.

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Getting Outdoors More

Do you get outside as much as you’d like, either locally or on longer trips away from home? Sure, family and other responsibilities prevent you from getting out as much as you’d like.  As your life grew more complicated and busy, one of the most important “outdoor” skills you can acquired is figuring out how to get outdoors as much as you want. One thing you can do is make it a family outing. Here are some tips to help with the outdoor planning.

PLAN AHEAD

When was the last time you had the freedom to take off on the spur of the moment? Probably years ago, right? Many people lack that flexibility, which means that your outdoor recreation, like your work, has to be scheduled in advance, or it doesn’t happen. Backpacking, camping, and other activities in many national parks, can require making reservations months in advance.

INVOLVE YOUR FAMILY

As a parent, the best way to get outdoors more is to get your kids involved at a very young age carrying them on hikes and other activities before they’re walking, then letting them move under their own power as soon as they can walk.  That delivers multiple benefits for you: creating additional opportunities for you to get outside; ingraining in your children a love for the outdoors that you have always shared; and, by getting your family out as much as they’re willing to go, they occasionally don’t mind if you take off for a long day hike or a weekend of climbing or backpacking.

GET ORGANIZED

If the thought of packing up your gear for a weekend erects a mental hurdle to going, maybe you’ve created too much of a barrier for yourself. Get organized and efficient not just about packing for a trip, but also about storing gear after trips; having it ready to go helps you get out the door more quickly. Keep supplies like stove fuel and backpacking food on hand. That way, taking off for a night or two of camping or backpacking isn’t an ordeal.

GET A REGULAR PARTNER

Self-motivating is hard. Find a partner for regular, local hikes, rides, or trail runs who’s compatible with your style and pace besides pushing each other to work a little harder, you’ll push one another to stick to the commitment.

SCHEDULE WEEKLY OUTINGS

Don’t treat exercise and outdoor recreation as something you’ll get to at the end of the day or on the weekend if there’s time after everything else gets done it doesn’t happen that way. Schedule your regular, local outings during the week, like short hikes or trail runs, just like you schedule work or personal appointments. Carve out time for it on your calendar and you will do it and turn it into part of your routine.

For the next few months try to get outdoors more and maybe plan a trip. A day trip, weekend trip, or a week long trip. Just plan ahead and do something fun.