Whether you're a first-time camper, or a long-time fan, keep these 10 commandments in mind—however serious or silly they are.
1. Thou shalt camp whenever possible1 of 11
Camping is not just good for your soul; it improves imagination and cognitive function, and leads to a healthier life, according to the National Wildlife Federation (NWF). It's also inexpensive compared to most vacations.
Always choose a tent over a hotel room and a camping trip over an expensive week at the theme park.
2. Thou shalt not call glamping, camping2 of 11
While glamping is a form of camping, which is defined as the activity of living in a camp, tent or camper, it's far from what the purists consider camping.
Try a more traditional form of camping at least once to get the full experience.
3. Thou shalt not take nature for granted3 of 11
Each day another tree is cut down to make room for homes, office buildings and highways. Nearly 4 billion trees are cut down worldwide, as of 2011, according to Ecology.com.
Don't take nature for granted; appreciate every moment you have on the trail, at the campsite or even in your own backyard. Take a few pictures, too.
4. Thou shalt keep the campsite holy4 of 11
Modern technology has become a necessity in our world, and as such, many campgrounds and parks have installed WiFi. This makes it easy to answer work emails, update your Facebook and more.
Resist the temptation to use WiFi and any gadgets. Enjoy offline activities like relaxing, hiking, exploring and campfire cooking.
5. Thou shalt honor the natural world5 of 11
"Nature is fuel for the soul...Often when we feel depleted we reach for a cup of coffee, but research suggests a better way to get energized is to connect with nature," says Richard Ryan, lead author of Vitalizing Effects of Being Outdoors and in Nature.
Give thanks by connecting with nature. Volunteer with the Public Lands Program, find a place to help on National Public Lands Day, or simply follow the Leave No Trace principles when you're camping and hiking.
6. Thou shall not harm wildlife6 of 11
You don't have to physically hurt an animal to harm it; though you shouldn't do that, either. Simply feeding an animal food from your camp can be dangerous for you, the animal and other campers. When you give wildlife food from your site it may come back for more, which can bother your neighbors and future campers.
If you see an animal at the campsite or on the trail, let it be. If the animal is dangerous, follow the proper procedure to protect yourself and others around you.
7. Thou shalt not make a reservation and then not show up7 of 11
The popularity of camping is on the rise. In 2012, 38 million people went camping, and this number is expected to grow in the coming years. If you ignore your reservation, you take the opportunity away from someone else.
Choose a campground with walk-in sites. If you aren't sure whether you can go or not, you can make a last-minute decision.
8. Thou shalt not steal from thy neighbors8 of 11
You shouldn't steal from someone at home, and you definitely shouldn't steal from someone while camping. This is an unspoken rule, as most people leave expensive gear, food and clothing around the campsite while hiking for the afternoon, for example.
Even inexpensive items like firewood should be left untouched. If your neighbor leaves, you can take the wood; but it's courteous to ask first.
9. Thou shalt never lie about thy's location9 of 11
Whether you stay in a developed camping area or make camp in a primitive location, it's important that someone knows where you are. In the event that something happens, this person can alert the appropriate people.
Especially when primitive camping, always give your location, date of departure and date of return to a close friend or family member. Use exact map coordinates if you're not at a developed camping area.
10. Thou shalt not covet thy friends' camping trips10 of 11
Instead of coveting your friends' camping trips, take one yourself. Luckily, thanks to modern and primitive cabins, you can camp any time of the year.
Scratch your itch to be outside in the offseason with a winter cabin camping trip and then plan a few getaways for the spring, summer and fall.