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Camping is the most popular outdoor activity

Notes from the North Woods

Humans are born with an innate sense of discovery, which often results in an inexplicable need to explore our environment. In our efforts to return to our roots, we often recognize the need to simplify our daily existence.

In camp, we learn to slow down. Every day life is slowly reduced to a just a few basic needs such as food, water and hopefully some toilet paper.

Camping teaches us the concept that less is more, and we learn to make due without all of the whiz-bang toys and convenient conveniences of life at home. There are a lot of electronic items we can take off the list. Books, the type made of real paper products provide an excellent substitute for a computer. A ‘Kindle’ becomes a chore you do to start a fire at the end of each day.

For thousands of years, mankind lived in a primitive state and subsisted as hunter/gatherers. Men hunted, fished and foraged for food, and lived a nomadic life, which involved shifting and moving with the game throughout the seasons. Man was attached to the land in order to survive, and it was a very seasonal existence.

Scientists have claimed it was the eventual domestication of dogs, which aided in the herding and hunting of animals, as well as protection of their masters camp; that allowed humans to advance beyond the hunter/gatherer existence.

Camping allows us to return to that nomadic lifestyle if only for a while. It provides a place where we can learn to reduce our dependence on modern tools and recapture a unique piece of our past that remains ingrained deep in our psyche. We are humans mostly in the wild. The built environment of cities and town is most unnatural to our heritage and health.

Undoubtedly, camping is one of the most family oriented experiences ever invented. However, it wasn’t really invented, it was simply rediscovered. We don’t learn how to camp, we camp to learn how to live, and having a dog in camp provides a real bonus.

Joe Hackett is a guide and sportsman residing in Ray Brook. Contact him at brookside18@adelphia.net.

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