Friday the 13th Full Moon

Why So Scared to Camp?

It’s Friday the 13thAND there’s a full moon. Yikes! What better time to talk about any camping fears we might harbor. Push those aside, and you can really enjoy sleeping under the stars.

It's called nyctophobia — the fear of the dark. But it's not the dark itself that scares us. It's what may be lurking there. Could it be wolves? A bear? Has the hook-handed man from the campfire story come to attack us?

We don't seem to fear much when we spend the night indoors, with the doors locked and the night-light on. But the thought of sleeping outside can unlock primal fears that might keep us from enjoying a night under the stars. Don't let an overactive imagination keep you from the highly enjoyable, non-scary world of tent camping.

We’ve all been first-timers, and likely we’ve all been teased for being afraid of things that go bump in the night, especially when they turn out to be nothing more than an owl or hungry raccoon. Getting close to nature can feel scary when you’re used to climate-controlled comfort in your own bed. Remember, you can’t get close to nature from those safe-feeling spots. Maybe it’s time to face those fears and give camping a try.

One of the best ways to get close to nature is by staying in a tent, which is how 60 percent of U.S. campers spent their nights outdoors in 2018, according to the North American Camping Report. But the report also notes that first-time campers are much less likely to stay in tents, with nearly 60 percent choosing instead to stay in cabins, RVs and other accommodations.

In his 2005 book Last Child in the Woods, Richard Louv describes the rise of nature phobia. Today’s parents keep children indoors to keep them “safe,” though their fears are based on dirt, plants, insects and wildlife rather than crime or other urban problems. Today, health officials tell us that it’s to our benefit to reconnect with nature and spend time outdoors, no matter the age.

Let’s get a reality check on some common concerns that intimidate people from camping. 

Lions and tigers and bears, oh my!
As a new tent camper in Texas, you may have nightmares about wild beasts arriving for a nocturnal visit. While we don’t have any tigers in Texas, some areas do have mountain lions and black bears. Remember, we are visitors to their home, so be sure to practice proper procedures on the trail and at your campsite.

Just sounds nasty, pretty much is
Many newcomers to the Texas outdoors have questions about snakes. Texas does have a nice variety of venomous snakes: coral snakes, copperheads, water moccasins and rattlesnakes. Be sure to pay attention to any warning signs or ranger instructions but, most importantly, if you see a snake, leave it alone.

Disconnection detox
The really good news is that your chances of having a Wi-Fi connection or even cellphone service are not very good. Wait, that’s good news? Yes!

To read about more about these fears and learn about others (like poison ivy, oh my!), go to our Texas Parks & Wildlife magazine app for a SNEAK PEEK at our upcoming October feature!


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