Originally published in Comfort Zone Newsletter: August 2007.
It seems fairly clear that HSPs benefit from time in nature. Most of us regularly hike, garden, walk a dog, or do something more ambitious like swimming or jogging. Some of us would also like to camp more, but probably do not for various reasons, including inconvenience and discomfort. Who needs to spend the first half of a day off packing up so you can sleep somewhere outdoors, then spending the next day packing up to come home? Most of the camping experience is at night in a tent, which is nice for hearing the rustlings of animals in the dark and practicing balancing on one foot while gripping a tent pole and putting something on your feet when you get up in the middle of the night, but not much else. Here is an idea for a more efficient use of your time outdoors. I call it day camping.
Day camping can be whatever you want, but the essence is to spend an entire day outside, not just the time you would spend hiking or gardening. That extra time is spent relaxing or resting, not working or exercising. What my husband and I do is take what we need to lie down very comfortably out in the open, plus food and reading material. No tent, no elaborate cooking equipment, no lanterns or flashlights. Simplicity itself.
Even better than the simplicity, you are not limited to campgrounds. We head for one of our nearby state or regional parks and seek out a special spot entirely to ourselves. We return to it weekly until we want something different. For us the spot is usually a circle or semi-circle of trees in a meadow—shaded but not dark forest. A view if possible. Certainly a nice breeze. Maybe the sound of running water. Privacy is essential, so finding The Spot means scouting around off the roads and trails, which is fun in itself.
While I plan to read or converse on these day camp days, what I actually do is just lie there inert, absorbing the sounds, sights, smells, and touch of wind on my body. I open my eyes awhile to watch the sun and wind playing through the leaves or watch a bird, then I close my eyes and listen or doze. It seems I cannot get enough of resting in this particular way.
An evening cookout becomes completely voluntary. Often I am ready to come indoors for dinner and a nice sleep in my own bed. I have successfully turned camping inside out.