Slow Down and Look Around: Immersing Yourself in Nature While Camping

Slow Down and Look Around: Immersing Yourself in Nature While Camping

Returning to the Peace of Wild Things

To celebrate Autumn’s arrival, I intentionally joined a canoeing/camping excursion offered by Washington Women Outdoors (a local outdoor adventure group for women). On the last morning of summer, I awoke on an island in the middle of the Susquehanna River (the largest river on the East coast) outside of Harrisburg, PA; with a part Huck Finn, part Peter Pan and the lost boys kind of feeling.

After six hours of meandering down this waterway, we began searching for our evening real estate. Like Goldilocks tasting her porridge, the first island we came to was too small, the second one was already occupied and the third one was just right. Plenty of room for seven spacious camp sights. Canoes were beached, tents were pitched, a campfire was built and the traditional WWO happy hour began. Each of us slowly made our way to our sleeping bags on full bellies, sun-warmed skin from our day on the river and muscles pleasantly tired after a day full of physical effort. Sleep came easy.

Dawn sun rays poked me awake through my tent screen along with the morning chorus of crickets, tree frogs & the haunting call of a train whistle. A soft river-scented breeze began to seep into my bones. My six two-legged companions were beginning to stir as well. As poet Wendall Berry says, I was “returning to the peace of wild things”.

Tribal Consciousness and River Wisdom

Leaving my world behind, whether to take a short hike solo or with other women, often can calm my frazzled nervous system like no other medium. As Robert Greenway notes in his contribution to Ecotherapy, Healing With Nature in Mind, many things begin to happen when one enters the wilderness or brings ‘the wilderness mind’ to an outdoor excursion. Physically, the body begins to awaken when tasked with being responsible for whatever might be needed during our weekend and while meeting the navigational demands of an unknown waterway with lots of rocks, class 1 or 2 rapids and shallow water.

Traveling in a group helps us remember our tribal nature. “Exercises of mutual caring and of developing trust in the sharing of camp duties, cooking and eating food together all arouse this tribal consciousness.” – 1 Sitting around a crackling fire naturally connects us with our ancestors, a sense of gratitude for its warmth and light along with a sense of “We’ve been here before”. Finally, rivers are a natural place of balance that we can align with when the senses are opened to her gifts.

Remembering What it Feels Like to be Alive

One of my favorite shows of the 1990’s was called Northern Exposure. In this comedy-drama series, Native American wisdom and seasonal rituals were often featured. One of the most beloved characters was ‘Chris in the morning’, part-time radio DJ, philosopher & artist. In one episode, a variety of random personal items were going missing – hair dryers, blenders, etc. Finally, Chris was caught in the act of stealing a car radio and confessed without any resistance, stating, ‘sometimes you just have to do something bad to know you’re alive.’

My take on this is sometimes you just have to do something that takes you out of your comfort zone and provides an appropriate challenge (within one’s skill set) to remember the feeling of being alive. Maybe going camping or spending time on a river is not your thing, however, a nature prescription is available to everyone of us. Whether just stepping into one’s own back yard for a few minutes in the morning, sitting next to a plant on a windowsill or visiting a favorite park for a long walk, these simple choices can reconnect us to the more-than-human world and most importantly, to ourselves. The best part? It’s free.

An Invitation to Slow Down and Immerse Yourself in Nature

Spend some time this autumn remembering this important relationship and enjoy Ilan Shamir’s: Advice from a River:

Go with the flow – immerse yourself in nature

Slow down and meander – Go around the obstacles

Be thoughtful of those downstream – stay current

The beauty is in the journey!

Whether it’s a weekend getaway to the Scottish Highlands or a mindful pause in your own backyard, the invitation is here to slow down, look around, and immerse yourself in the wonder of the natural world. When we open ourselves to the gifts of nature, we not only find peace and balance, but we also reconnect with the primal part of ourselves that remembers what it truly feels like to be alive.

So pack your bags, leave your watch behind, and get ready to experience the magic that awaits you at Loch Ness Shores – a serene campsite nestled in the heart of the Scottish Highlands. Unplug, unwind, and let the rhythm of the river, the whisper of the wind, and the songs of the birds guide you back to the peace of wild things.

  1. Buzzell, Linda and Chalquist, Craig, Ecotherapy, Healing With nature in Mind,2009, Sierra Club Books

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