Make the Most Out of Summer with This Camping Checklist

If you live in North America – or in any country where the cold months dominate the year – you should make the most out of the short summer season by going out and getting some sun. It’s actually one of the most beneficial activities you can do for your health.

If you have kids, you should encourage them to do the same. Allow them to play so that they can develop their imagination, relieve stress, and simply be themselves. Of course, it definitely wouldn’t hurt to organize a few structured activities that the whole family can participate in.

Camping is a favorite summer activity among many families. Not only will it allow you and your family ample time with Mother Nature, but it can also strengthen the bond you share with one another.

6 Ways Camping Benefits Your Health

Spending time in the wilderness can provide a number of health benefits:

Family Camping
Studies show that staying outdoors can provide you with many health benefits.
  1. Raises your vitamin D levels – Adequate sunlight exposure stimulates the production of vitamin D. Studies have linked this nutrient to many body-wide benefits.
  2. Resets your circadian rhythm – Scientists have found that camping allows you to live by the sun’s schedule, which will help adjust your body clock to its natural state, and reverse the effects of frequent exposure to artificial light.
  3. Promotes fitness – You’ll probably hike across jagged terrains or even cool down in a lake or river. Your physical activity increases and you get more exercise.
  4. Supports your eyesight – Your time outdoors can help improve distance vision and lowers your risk of myopia or nearsightedness.
  5. Improves your mood – In one study, children who spent time outdoors experienced a number of positive emotions, including happiness, peacefulness, and a sense of belonging. Exposure to sunlight and increased physical activity also triggers your body to secrete serotonin or “feel good” hormones.
  6. Benefits your brain – Engaging in environment-based education can enhance children’s critical thinking skills.

Camping Supplies List: What Every Camper Should Have

Going out into the great outdoors can be a challenge for some people, especially for first timers. Anything can happen, and you must learn to work with the resources you have with you.

The key is to be prepared. As with any activity, proper planning will help you make the most out of your trip. Below are some camping essentials that are necessary for every trip to the wilderness:

    Sleeping bags and blankets  
    Food, cookware, and garbage bags  
    Pure and clean water  
    Flashlights or headlamp  
    First aid kit  
    Sun protection  
    Mosquito repellent  
    Maps, pocket knife, and rope  

Although these items can be found almost anywhere, you should also ensure that they aren’t made of materials that can expose you to dangerous chemicals. For instance, some plastic materials contain dangerous chemicals like bisphenol-A (BPA) or phthalates, which may leach into your food or drinking water.

You need to be particularly meticulous when it comes to the products you apply on your or your children’s skin, such as sunscreen or insect repellents. Remember, your skin will absorb anything it comes into contact with, and studies have shown that some sunscreen chemicals are absorbed through the skin and end up circulating in your blood stream.

Your Key to Safe Sun Exposure

To receive safe sunlight exposure, you have to consider certain factors, like:

  • Your skin color – If you’re fair-skinned, you need shorter exposure – about a few minutes – than those with darker skin. Deeply pigmented individuals should limit their stay under the sun to 30 minutes.
  • Time of day – UVB rays, which trigger vitamin D production, are abundant between 10 AM and 2 PM. UVA rays, on the other hand, are available throughout the day and can induce more free radical damage.

To learn more, I encourage you to watch my 1-hour vitamin D lecture.

Why Having Safe Sun Protection Is Wise

One of the biggest concerns during camping or hiking trips is sun protection. Some people slather sunscreen to block the sun entirely, believing it’s a threat. In reality, allowing moderate amounts of sunshine on your skin can be beneficial for your health.

However, that’s not to say sunlight can’t be harmful. Prolonged exposure to sunlight can increase your risk of wrinkles and premature aging, so if you’ll be exposed to direct sunlight for more than a few minutes, you should take necessary precautions, like wearing protective clothing and using sunscreen.

But don’t be duped into using just any kind of commercial sunscreen. These products often contain chemical ingredients, such as parabens, artificial fragrances, and other questionable ingredients that may disrupt your body functions.

For more tips in choosing a safe sunscreen, read “The Safe Sunscreen Guide: Why Chemical Sunscreens Are NOT Your Best Bet.”

Mosquito Repellents That You Should Avoid Like the Plague

How Clothes Can Make a Difference

The clothes you bring to your campsite can help protect you against prolonged sun exposure and even reduce your chances of becoming a bug prey.

Here are some tips you can use:

  • Wear a cap – Your face, especially the skin around your eyes, are extra sensitive to the rays of the sun. A cap can shade your face and at the same time, allow you to benefit from the healthful wavelengths from the sun.

    Avoid wearing sunglasses for long periods of time because these block beneficial rays of the sun.
  • Avoid dark-colored clothes – Mosquitoes are attracted to them. Wear light-colored, loose fitting clothing. Wear long-sleeved shirts, long pants, hats, and socks when you hike or during nighttime.

Encountering mosquitoes, as well as other insects, during a camping trip is inevitable. Remember, there are over 3,000 species of mosquitoes, and roughly 200 can be found in the United States alone. To avoid becoming prey to these pests, you need to have some sort of protection, especially when you’re staying in damp or humid areas.

Before you get an insect repellent, know that, like commercial sunscreens, bug sprays are often loaded with chemicals like DEET (N,N-diethyl-meta-toluamide) that may do more harm than good.

DEET is used in hundreds of products, with concentrations of up to a hundred percent. This chemical is known to melt plastic or fishing line. Research has also linked it to many diseases, including nervous system disorders.

Another chemical ingredient is permethrin, which is a known pyrethroid. Pyrethroids are known neurotoxins that can cause immune system problems, behavioral issues, and chromosomal abnormalities. Permethrin is also toxic to the environment.

Knowing this, would you risk applying these dangerous substances to your skin?

Safe Alternatives to Commercial Sunscreen and Bug Sprays

Using Safe Sunscreen
Looking for safe sunscreens and bug sprays? Follow these tips.

If you are to use sunscreen or insect repellents on your camping trip (or on any occasion), make certain that it contains ingredients obtained from nature – not manmade. Fortunately, there are safe alternatives out there that can protect you more effectively than their chemical-laden counterparts.

To help you find a safe sunscreen and mosquito repellent, here are some considerations to remember:

  • Always check labels for ingredients such as chemical fragrances, petroleum, parabens, and nanoparticles. Regardless if they function as effective water-resistant agents or preservatives, these toxins can accumulate in your vital organs, tissues, and cells, and consequently cause damage.
  • Only use a safe sunscreen made from plant or food-based ingredients, such as green tea, coconut oil, sunflower oil, aloe vera gel, shea butter, beeswax, and jojoba oil. These agents can help protect you against long-term sun exposure and nourish your skin, too.
  • Check for sunscreens containing mineral ingredients, such as zinc oxide and titanium oxide. These two ingredients can provide you with a stable barrier without irritating your skin. They also work to reflect and scatter both UVA and UVB rays from your body.
  • Bug sprays with plant-based ingredients, such as citronella and lemongrass, are ideal choices. Both have distinct odors that are irritating to mosquitoes and other insects.
  • Another effective agent you can use is peppermint oil, as it can repel adult mosquitoes. Peppermint also induces a cool sensation that can provide temporary relief from insect bites and itching.
  • Pure vanillin can also be effective against mosquitoes. It was also found that mixing pure vanillin with agents like citronella can help increase protection time against mosquitoes.

Dr. Mercola’s Summer Survival Kit – A Boon to Your Camping Supplies List

Summer Survival Kit

Fortunately, you don’t have to look far. I have a solution that has taken all of these camping considerations into one complete package: my Summer Survival Kit.

The kit includes the sunscreen and bug spray products I personally use and recommend, as well as two other outdoor essentials that will contribute to your camping comfort. Every single item in my Summer Survival Kit is chemical-free and is formulated with agents carefully selected from Mother Nature to support your healthy skin.

My Summer Survival Kit contains summer essentials that will work to your advantage during any outdoor trip:

  • Broad Spectrum Sunscreen – My safe sunscreen comes in three SPF levels (SPF 15, SPF 30, and SPF 50), each with a combination of zinc oxide, titanium oxide, and antioxidants that are beneficial for your skin.
  • Dr. Mercola’s Bug Spray – My chemical-free bug spray contains a blend of citronella, lemongrass oil, peppermint oil, and pure vanillin. Not only is it effective but it also has a scent that both you and your kids will love.
  • Mercola Tanning Oil – This product is made for those who want to develop a deep, golden tan and maximize vitamin D benefits. Made of a blend of nine plant-sourced ingredients, this oil can help moisturize and protect your skin.
  • Mercola Healthy Skin Aloe Vera – Composed of cucumber, green tea extracts, and 100% pure aloe vera gel, this can help soothe and moisturize dry, rough skin.

Whatever activity you have planned this summer, make sure you’re always prepared. My Summer Survival Kit is definitely a friend not only to camping enthusiasts, but also to parents who want their kids to enjoy outdoor activities and have a fun and memorable quality family time.