I just returned from a camping trip to Joshua Tree National Forest. It was an awesome trip, but I had to apologize to my whole family for being such a complainypants. I was pretty stressed out and I think I set a bad tone for the trip. The point of a camping trip is to relax and unwind, right? It just showed how much control I like to have over my environment, and you can’t control nature.
So why do I camp? Many HSPs have a special connection to nature. Open spaces give us permission to slow down, daydream, and breathe. For example, a day at the beach tingles all 5 senses just enough to keep us pleasantly stimulated, but not overwhelmed the way city life can be. I also believe strongly in the benefits of physically grounding oneself in nature– digging your feet in the sand, hugging a tree, wading in the water, bathing in sunlight.
As a kid in suburban California, I never got to camp. My dad was not interested, and my mom was too busy working and holding the family together. My one and only camping trip took place in 7th grade when my best friend’s hippie family invited me on their backpacking trip in the high Sierras. I’m sure they didn’t realize what a dead weight I would be. I remember complaining. A lot. About: being devoured by mosquitos (they always like my blood best! So unfair!), ear pressure and faintness from high altitude, being afraid of slipping off the side of the mountain or falling off the log bridge, etc. With that family, I’m still infamous for being a complainypants on that trip. They love me nonetheless, and understand that I’m a product of suburbia.
As an adult, I make it a priority to camp. My daughter loves it. She’d chose a humble camping trip over a fancy hotel trip any day. As an HSC, I see her thrive in wild, open spaces. I am hoping my kids will be rugged and confident outdoors like my husband is, and camping regularly will help nurture that quality.
But let’s be real- camping is called “roughing it” for a reason. It’s not easy, and nature can be scary, especially for someone who is highly sensitive.
Things that stress me out about camping…
- Packing light, but not too light.
- Mosquitoes. Why do they love me and my daughter so much but barely touch my husband and baby? Do mosquitoes like HSP blood more perhaps? Just a hypothesis 🙂 Also my bites become golf ball sized welts.
- Fear of wild predators (bears, mountain lions, rattlesnakes, etc.)
- Keeping the tent clean and uncluttered and mosquito free.
- Going potty in nature. It’s just sooo hard for me. Perhaps a gadget like this pee funnel might help next time?
- Making sure the kids are safe and comfortable.
- Dangers in general, like falling off a cliff.
- Worrying about food poisoning because the cooler didn’t keep things cool enough, or I didn’t wash the dishes well enough. This amazing germ busting cloth helped ease my worries about the latter. I used this cloth to clean EVERYTHING on this trip, including myself and the kids.
- Worrying about breaking the rules of the park or getting yelled at by the park rangers. I’m such a goody goody. I also fear accidentally setting a forest fire.
- General discomfort of being sweaty, itchy, too hot, too cold, dirty, smelly, etc.
I read this list to my husband and he couldn’t believe all the things going through my head on a camping trip. He’s the ultimate bare-footed, tree-climbing, rock-scrambling outdoorsman. It’s hard for him to even imagine being stressed in nature. I’m hoping that by camping several times a year, I can desensitize myself to some of these worries/fears/discomforts because camping is totally worth it. The best things in life aren’t always easy, right?
When you read this list, can you relate? Do you have a complicated relationship with camping, too?