Work Well

Work Well advocates for a culture of wellness for UND faculty and staff through innovative engagement opportunities.

July Wellness Spotlight

Camping Safety

Summer is filled with days on the lake and sleeping under the stars! According to the Australian & New Zealand Mental Health Association, there is a positive relationship between camping and mental health and can help people live longer, happier lives. Some camping factors that can benefit one’s mental health and wellbeing include:

  • Exercise increases mental wellbeing
  • Bonding time with family or friends
  • Camping and being outdoors can be meditative
  • An opportunity to unplug from devices and be present

Whether you are going backpacking in the mountains or going to a local campground it’s important to be prepared. Learn how to stay safe and smart while enjoying the outdoors in the informational guide below.

Before You Get There

  1. Get familiar with the park
    • Park amenities
      • Check to make sure if the park you will be staying at has drinking water, electricity, or stores where you can buy food and gear
      • Based off amenities, pack the essentials
    • Wildlife
      • What animals live near the park and how can you prepare for an encounter?
    • Park alerts
      • Check to see if there are any closures, hazards, or other active alerts that may affect your trip
  2. Plan your activities
    • Find a complete list of activities the park has to offer
    • Know your limits and pick what activities are right for you
      • Duration – How long will it take you to complete this activity. Do you have the physical fitness and endurance for it?
      • Difficulty – What is the difficulty level of the activity? Is this within your limits and comfort level?
      • Skill – Does this activity require a special skill? Do you have that skill? If not, how can you learn this skill before your trip?
      • Gear – Does the activity require special gear (e.g. life jacket, rock climbing gear, etc.)? Do you have or can you obtain the correct gear?
  3. Regulations, permits & reservations
    • Regulations, restrictions, and closures protect the park and keep visitors safe. Learn more by calling the park or visiting their web page.
    • Some activities (like fishing) require permits. Follow the park’s instructions on how to apply and obtain a permit for your activity.
    • Reservations may be required to enter the park, access an area of the park, and/or participate in an activity.
  4. The 10 Essentials – DO NOT rely on a cell phone for any of these essentials
    1. Navigation – map, compass, or GPS system
    2. Sun protection – sunglasses, sunscreen, hat
    3. Insulation – jacket, hat, gloves, rain shell, thermal underwear
    4. Illumination – flashlight, lantern, headlamp
    5. First-aid kit – start with a pre made kit and modify it to suit your needs.Check expiration dates on all items and replace as needed.
    6. Fire – matches, lighter, fire starters
    7. Repair kit and tools – duct tape, knife, screwdriver, scissors
    8. Nutrition – food
    9. Hydration – water and treatment supplies
    10. Emergency shelter – tent, space blanket, tarp
  5. Share your trip plansĀ 
    • Where you are going, what you are doing, and when you plan to be back
    • Ask them to call authorities and share your trip plan if you have not arrived on time

Once You’re at the Park

  • Stop by a Visitor Center or Ranger Station if available
    • Questions to ask include:
      • Are any areas closed?
      • What’s the weather forecast?
      • Is there animal activity?
      • Are there any alerts?
      • Where can I find drinking water?
    • Pick up any permits, pay fees, and read all regulations and safety information

During Your Trip

  • Stay on the trail, designated campsites, and other designated areas
    • You reduce the risk of becoming lost and injured while protecting the natural resources around you
  • Stick with your group
    • If you must leave, use the buddy system
  • Be aware of your surroundings
    • Watch your step
    • Keep an eye on the weather
    • Report any suspicious activity
  • Keep a safe distance away from wildlife
    • Parks are not petting zoos
    • Stay a minimum of 25-50 yards from most wildlife and 100 yards from predators
    • Use binoculars or your camera lens to observe wildlife
    • Follow these steps to protect the wildlife and yourself

After Your Trip

  • Contact your trusted contact and let them know you made it back home
  • Keep a travel journal. Write down fun activities you did, things you need to remember for next time, potential campsites for future trips, etc.

Even if you have not been camping before or if you’re not the person who generally goes camping, consider it a possibility if you need a mental reset.Camping can be enjoyable and thrilling, beneficial for physical or mental health, and a genuine journey full of new skills.

Where to Camp:

ND State Parks

MN State Parks