For my family, summertime is synonymous with camping and spending time outdoors. My wife, Tala, and I both did a lot of hiking and sleeping under the stars when we were growing up, and with my wife’s persistent guidance, we’ve kept that tradition alive with our kids.
Since early childhood, Tala has been involved in an international scouting group. Through the wonderful tutelage of this organization’s leadership, which included her mother, Tala has both enjoyed and advanced in this organization to eventually become the scoutmaster for the D.C. Metropolitan division. At that time, I became known as the “scoutmaster’s husband.” I used to joke and call myself the “triple H” — Head Honcho’s Husband.
Tala has great skills when it comes to roughing it outdoors, and she was determined and excited to nurture a love of camping and hiking in our children. As such, she got our toddlers camping in the woods in the western part of Virginia. Every summer for the last 15-plus years, Tala and our children have spent a week or two in a wilderness scouting camp sleeping in tents, exploring and hiking during the day, and waking up to a good wash-up in a freezing cold stream. Truly invigorating!
I have joined these adventures as often as my medical practice would allow but have always enjoyed time with my family in these remote, cell-phone free, rustic campsites. I’m also thankful that these outings feel “normal” to our son and daughter. Some people would balk at two weeks without running water, cell service, or takeout, exclaiming, “This is supposed to be fun?!” But for us, it’s the definition of fun, and we have so many treasured memories of camping and scouting. We’re hoping for the chance to do it again this summer now that we are all fully vaccinated.
Time spent outdoors — whether you camp out for a week, go for a day hike, or just walk around your neighborhood — can greatly benefit your mental health. Allowing ourselves time to step away from the day-to-day worries and reconnect with simple things like fresh air, beautiful scenery, and talking and visiting with friends and family without distractions can be so beneficial.
After a long winter and the second spring of continued pandemic protections, we’re more excited than ever for the opportunity to get outside, disconnect from our devices, de-stress, and let ourselves reset in nature.
Wishing you a healthy and fun-filled summer!