Meet Mark

Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Sisson. I’m 63 years young. I live and work in Malibu, California. In a past life I was a professional marathoner and triathlete. Now my life goal is to help 100 million people get healthy. I started this blog in 2006 to empower people to take full responsibility for their own health and enjoyment of life by investigating, discussing, and critically rethinking everything we’ve assumed to be true about health and wellness...

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June 19 2018

Great American Campout, Worker Bee Trips, and a Contest!

By Mark Sisson
46 Comments

On June 23rd, the world changes. Every RV, Subaru Outback, and pickup truck in every neighborhood across the country disappears from city limits. Expect the swoosh of fiberglass poles sliding through tent fabric to resound across the land and millions of campfires to produce enough smoke to block out the sun. Molted marshmallow flows will destroy hundreds of homes, and millions of fathers sitting on Doug fir rounds by the fire will tell so many ghost stories that they summon actual phantoms from the spirit world. The nation’s circadian rhythms will get a hard reset back to the superior factory settings, thanks to avoidance of artificial light after dark. Or so we could hope….

June 23rd is the Great American Campout, that time of the year when the National Wildlife Federation arranges a series of mass public camping sessions across the country and encourages everyone else to do the same in their local communities. If you haven’t heard of it, you’re not alone.

The unfortunate truth is that the vast majority of people still don’t camp. Chances are, the average person won’t even be aware that the Great American Campout is happening. This is a tragedy.

Regular camping could change the world. Imagine if every citizen spent at least a couple nights per month under the stars, gazing into a dancing campfire, getting fresh air and plenty of natural sunlight during the day, going on hikes, lounging in hammocks with a book, and ignoring their smartphone (because there’s no reception). The world would be a better place. People would be happier, healthier, and more tuned in to everyone’s ancestral homeland: the wilderness.

You might think it’s cheesy, or lament the imagined crowds, but you’d be making a mistake. Getting more people to enjoy and experience the outdoors will ensure we hold onto them for years to come.

There are many ways to take part:

  • Host a public campout. Arrange your own public campout in your community.
  • Attend a public campout. Go join in on the fun.
  • Just go camping. Participating in the Campout doesn’t have to be formal or registered. You can just camp in solidarity with everyone else.

If you’re new to camping, want to level your camping up, or are just interested in why camping is so important for our health, take a look at the posts I below. 

Go to the website, make the pledge, and start getting friends and family together for an awesome time together. There’s no way you’ll regret camping. Even the rough situations, like storms in the middle of the night, make for great stories—but you almost certainly will regret letting the opportunity slip through your fingers. Chances are, camping is one of those things you “resolve” to do more of but never actually do. Now’s your chance. Consider it a mini-challenge within your 21-Day framework.

Want some inspiration for camping and other active vacations? Some of our Worker Bees are sharing their favorite trips today. And be sure to leave your own anecdotes/suggestions for camping and active vacations in the comments for today’s contest (details below).

My favorite type of vacation is a good balance between relaxation and activity. I love getting up in the morning for a hike or taking a walk on the beach at sunset. Then, finding time to read, recharge and connect with the natural beauty of my surroundings is where it’s at! Also, water is a must! I feel the most relaxed near the lake or an ocean. This photo is a Rocky Mountains camping trip.   – Ana G.

Destination races! My husband and I sign up for races as an excuse to visit other countries, like when we ran the Great Wall of China Marathon. It’s pretty much the opposite of sitting poolside with a mai tai! You get to meet amazing people—other participants, race volunteers, and locals—you’d never normally encounter and see things the average tourist misses. It’s a wonderful way to travel.  – Lindsay T. 

My favorite active spot around the globe to vacation is Costa Rica! I especially love Dominical, a little surf town on the Pacific Coast. Great for yoga, kayaking, surfing, hiking, running, and swimming, there are literally endless adventures to be had in a place so rich in different ecosystems and outdoors escapes.  – Annie M.

Morning run in Tel Aviv, Israel!  – Chloe M.

One of my most memorable places for vacation was Lake Tahoe, absolutely gorgeous scenery and amazing time spent with family. We paddle boarded, canoed, and fished!  – Michelle F. 

I spend a lot of time in the North Woods and North Shore (Minnesota). It’s beautiful hiking there, and we enjoy gorgeous sunsets on the rocky beaches.  – Jen W.

I’m lucky to live just a few hours away from Big Bear, California, and it’s definitely a favorite getaway spot. With breathtaking views, epic hiking trails and calm water, there’s no shortage of activities to keep you moving!

Last time I was there, I linked up with the Bee the Wellness tribe for one of their adventure retreats. It’s so nice to just show up somewhere with all your activities and (paleo!) meals planned, so you can sit back and really enjoy your surroundings. In fact, I’ll be joining them again this July in the Redwoods! If you miss PrimalCon, you’ll LOVE this (and you might see a few familiar faces too).  – Liz M.

Favorite active vacation spot: San Diego, CA
Favorite activities: 
1. Hiking in Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve (attached photo taken on one of the trails that overlooks the beach) 
2. SUP/paddleboarding in Mission Bay 
3. Family bike riding on Coronado Island
4. Kayaking and jetskiing in Carlsbad Lagoon
5. Trail running and hiking in the San Elijo Hills

– Sabrina T.

Now For the Contest…

The Bees and I want to hear your stories and suggestions for camping adventures and active vacations. Simply leave a relevant comment here by the deadline, and you’ll be entered to win.

The Prize: The Primal Blueprint Platinum Supplement Package

The Platinum Package is the ultimate in supplementation, and a daily dietary boost favored by Mark Sisson, his wife and thousands of other health-conscious devotees. This comprehensive supplement plan includes: Primal Master Formula, Primal Fuel, Primal Probiotics, Primal Omegas and Primal Sun. With a 30-day supply of a high-antioxidant multivitamin complex, omega-3 fish oils, healthy probiotics, vitamin D and a 21-day supply of delicious, coconut-based Primal meal replacement shake, the Platinum Package is a complete, convenient and cost-effective way to live a healthy, Primal life in the modern world.*

The Deadline: Midnight PDT, June 19th, 2018

Thanks for stopping in, everyone. Take care.

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46 thoughts on “Great American Campout, Worker Bee Trips, and a Contest!”

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  1. Waking at first light, having some barefoot grounding, and some extended fasting are great experiences during camping. We love the coast of Oregon and the Mt Hood area as well.

  2. My second favorite vacation has to be a 9 day backpacking trip to Lake Snow Mass in Colorado (#1 was getting engaged and hiking Machu Pichu).

    Everything about the trip was amazing. Hiking miles with a heavy pack in high altitude. Catching and cooking trout steps from our campsite. Bathing in a waterfall. Cold plunging into the freezing mointain lake in July. Relexing by the fire after hours of playing horsehoes. Admiring the natural beauty of deer, elk, and other critters who just seemed to welcome us into their home.

    An added benefit to the rest, relaxation and fun of the trip was the fitness gained. Obviously hiking for hours everuday helps, but when you spend all day everyday outside with limited food, you truly only eat for energy.

    Thanks Mark for bringing back such a great memory!

  3. San Diego for trail running, sea kayaking, long walks, perfect weather… Or Sedona for hiking, mountain biking, camping, relaxing.

  4. I just did a very primal “Catch or Starve” camping trip! My boyfriend is an avid fly fisherman and I love to cook. I decided it’d be fun to do a camping trip in North Georgia where we packed olive oil, lemons, and a cast iron and put the pressure on him to catch trout for dinner. Heavy rains earlier in week didn’t make for good fishing but the trip was still a hit. Next time we’re bringing steaks!

  5. My favorite way to camp is to have a hard day hiking into a remote pond somewhere, then spending a day playing with no goal in mind. It takes a second to adjust to having nothing to “do,” and then it’s a level of relaxation we rarely can experience.

  6. I did a three day solo backpacking trip in Haleakala Crater on Maui, supposedly one of the last places on earth where you can spend over 15 minutes without hearing a man-made sound. I loved rising early in the morning in the cool, crisp air to make some coffee and embrace the solitude. I enjoyed the changing scenery and temperature as I hiked among ancient volcanic cinder cones and blazing heat at one point, and cool grassy shrublands a few miles later. And at night, the stars…simply indescribable. It was three incredible days to grow spiritually, cultivate a greater self awareness, embrace the real and natural, and come out feeling RESTORED!

  7. Just took an overnight hike in Harriman State Park this past weekend. Around 4 in the morning I watched from my tent as a bear climbed the tree about 10 feet away and with a swipe of his paw, rip open my food bag and spill my breakfast all over the ground. After he finished the delicious peanut butter cookies that I had been looking forward to and moved on to another tree, I decided to do what Grok probably would have done. I got out of my tent, dug a hole, squatted, and left a mighty turd.

  8. Try the “sub 24”. That’s a less than 24 hour bicycle camping trip where you bring everything you need on your bike.

  9. Camping! I live to camp! We’ve camped all over the Midwest, and in this area, the U.P. of Michigan is the most beautiful. Lake Superior is gorgeous and freezing cold- really refreshing on a hot July day.

    My very favorite camping trip was a 2-week trip to Glacier NP in 2016. We went with a group of older couples from our church, and they offered to stay back with our kids (then 4, 6, and 8) so my husband and I could do a few longer hikes. We hiked 12 miles up a switch to an old mountain pass one day, and 9 miles to a quiet mountain lake full of tiny glaciers. It was the most incredible trip.

  10. I certainly wish this post had come up one or two weeks ago when I could have adjusted and arranged my schedule and time to actually get out on a camping trip! As too often is the case in today’s communications, information rarely shows up early enough to enable adequate planning and full pariticipation.

    This is a great idea and I am marking my calendar for next year so I don’t miss it. The benefits of time in the woods (or any other “wild” place) cannot be overestimated. One always returns refreshed and renewed on many levels.

  11. When I was 22, I worked for the Maine Conservation Corps for the summer building trails in the 100 mile wilderness. I had one of the best summers of my life. I met the most amazing people and worked incredibly hard. I do not think I have ever done work that was so satisfying. People from all over the country would stop and thank us. I would be completely content with the most simple meal (we had to get creative) and slept so well at night (except a few thunder and lightning storms). After a 10 year hiatus from backpacking My fiance and I recently did a very short hike in to a camping spot on a pond to test my skills again. He had never really done a lot of camping and it was the first time he had carried a pack for any distance. It’s amazing to me that it took so long to get back to my roots, but now all I can think about is our next adventure and if it will be backpacking or bikepacking.

  12. I grew up going to Greece and staying in my father’s village. Talk about staying off the grid. Plenty of active things to do and the bare minimum of technology to distract you. Amazing experience.

  13. For the US it was camping in my camping hammock (no roots in my back!) by the far flung beaches of Olympic National Park…re-setting the body clock, hiking through pine forests, some glacial lake plunging to help tired legs and a small amount of tree hugging of some very large and old trees… ;). Sunset junky heaven also…

    The Milford Track (NZ) was amazing also but stayed in huts. You arrive by boat and start waist deep in water before threading your way up and over valleys and mountains. Four seasons in day and looks like something out of Jurassic World. Great fun! Mostly isolated, so not too much explaining about those funny shoes for 5 days…

  14. Nothing beats Tomales Bay for me. California has seemingly unlimited outdoor options, but I love Tomales Bay for the close proximity to my home in the Bay Area. Nothing beats a solo camping trip filled with hiking, trail running, abalone diving, bonfires and plenty of time for reflection. The gorgeous views of Point Reyes and clear night skies don’t hurt either.

  15. Growing up in the 60s and 70s, my (Marine Corp) dad marched us through yearly three week long backpacking trips in the Rockies. It was the dark ages of backpacking, so my mom had to sew our backpacks and tents, my dad made our jerky and pre-measured oatmeal and Bisquik into meal bundles (to supplement the “catch or die” trout), our tents were plastic sheets suspended from ropes tied to two sturdy trees. When I was three-years-old, my “backpack” held the plastic and rope (I was so proud). We were replenished by local packers halfway through … and they took out our trash.

    As a result, I am now a staunch fan of campgrounds, running water, toilets of any kind and hikes you take because you want to enjoy the scenery. I am obsessed with camp cookery and have made fabulous meals on my 4-burner Coleman(!), over the firepit, and in my “oven” that my husband manufactured for me. It’s amazing what you can make in camp if you plan ahead, dehydrate some food, and use your dry ice intelligently. I still make my own jerky from dad’s recipe, though… Our favorite is beach camping in central CA, especially Montana de Oro.

  16. My favorite trips — backpacking out in the north Georgia mountains with my husband and daughter. We started car camping with my daughter when she was just a few years old. Then, when she got strong enough to haul her own pack (maybe around 7-8), we started with one-night trips. We weren’t primal then, so hot chocolate and roasting marshmallows over the fire was the big draw, especially when she pooped out on the trail and we had to get her going. Lots of fun and good memories!

  17. Death Valley – open air sleeping pads under the spindley joshua trees, a sky full of twinkling stars, a painter’s palette of pastel rock formations, a diamond-patterned salt flat on a crater as red as the surface of Mars, a 110-degree dry run through Gower Gulch, sand boarding down the dunes of Tatooine, and feeling that incredible vulnerability in the extreme lack of that which is the very essence of life as a human being – water

  18. I live full-time in my RV. No, I’m not retired or of retirement age. I’ve created a mobile lifestyle that allows me to only need a cell signal to work. Being my own boss gives me plenty of flexibility to explore the different areas as I wish. Enjoying all that nature has to offer at my different locations. I pretty exclusively stay on public land, so my backyard(s) is exactly the type of areas that EVERYONE should be out there enjoying.

  19. If you camp anywhere near the ocean try to give surfing a go.

    Learning to surf, & getting your kids involved is something you won’t regret.

    It’s an activity that stays with you for life, & can enhance every aspect.

    Not only does it increase cardiovascular health, improve muscle mass, balance & coordination- it also can act as an active mediation. It’s an activity that can absob you so wholly you forget anything else, allowing you to transcend the everyday & routine of life.

    Nothing like camping on the beach, & hitting he waves 🙂

    It’s a sport that travels well too. Just pack a board and head to NZ, Australia, all across South America… & it always helps you instantly bond with others who share your passion wherever you may go.

    Surfs up.

  20. I still remember my dad teaching me to make a fire for the first time when I was 9. Something I’ve since dimension with my own son this past year.

    It’s such a special thing to build a fire with your kids. Any camping trip is not complete without this experience.

    Everything tastes better cooked over a fire too. Combined with sleeping under the stars, waking up to the rising sun, warm orange glow beating down upon you. Camping is the ultimate summer fun.

  21. we have done a moonlight paddle in the Quetico Provincial Park of NW Ontario (just north of Minnesota’s Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness) 16 miles across Sturgeon Lake under a full moon–breathtaking!

    lately, now with kiddos, we like to hike a few miles into one of WV’s wilderness areas, set up camp, swim, build a campfire, and enjoy — some of the kiddos’ best adventures seem to come on the way to finding a quiet spot to dig a hole to poop in! Last time, our 4yo brought only Crocs, so he ended up barefooting it the three miles back out from camp to our car.

  22. Summer hiking here in Alaska always has amazing views and plenty of challenging routes. One of my favorite trails is the Resurrection Pass trail that extends for almost 50 miles through lush forest and amazing mountain scenes in the distance. A great place to train, relax and bring your furry friends along for the camping/hiking adventure that can last from an afternoon to days on end.

  23. I spent a year working and travelling around NZ in a combi van with a bunch of surfers.

    We camped every night, hiked every trail we came across, & surfed till the wee hours of the morning. This was the best year of my life. We mostly lived off the land, gathering shellfish, fishing off the rocks, & even picking fruit from local orchards when possible. It was magic. Camping out will forever remind me of this time, & the freedom of that comes from being in nature.

  24. I’ve never camped or been on vacation… But it is one of my dreams to camp/walk the Appalachian trail. When the kids are older..

  25. North Beach Campground in Burlington, VT is one of my favorite places in the world. The campground is right off Lake Champlain and adjacent to a wonderful bike trail that goes to a cute island one way or the town of Burlington the other. Just a wonderful place to be outside all day.

  26. Camping is my kiddos favorite kind of trip. With 3 under the age of 7, we love to go camping for long weekends and really enjoy our time together outside. Hiding in the tent during a downpour, fishing, and going on short hikes are the kids favorite. It honestly doesn’t matter whether it’s glacier NP or a little campsite we find 30 minutes from home, all good memories.

  27. Lake Blanche in northern Utah is beautiful! Also Devil’s Garden in Arches National Park is really cool! Utah has some awesome hikes!

  28. My favorite place to vacation is Oregon. It is perfect for taking hikes or walking on the beach. I love hiking near Mt. Hood and around the Columbia River Gorge. It is a perfect place to play too because of the countless waterfalls and streams.

  29. We camp with lots of friends. We all have kids and they run around and have a great time together. If you don’t have much camping experience, go with others who do. They may even have old equipment you can borrow. Start out near your house, 1 night, at a place with amenities, so it’s less of a dive.

    Active vacations? Every winter since I was little, it was lots of skiing, and in the fall, hiking in New England. And, bike tours are great for keeping active. I did one of England and France as part of my post-college Europe tour. And, with a tour group, one in Zimbabwe. Bike every day, see places you can’t normally see, you never know what will come along while you’re on the road, stop at cool little places. Finally, getting into competitive sailing brings you lots of places as you go where the races are. You are moving all day, even with no wind–that can get you with the isometrics.

  30. Several years ago on June 23, I woke up at Camp Muir before 1 a.m. to hike to the summit of Mt Rainier. Sleeping in a tent is awesome. Doing it over 10,000 feet adds another layer.

  31. My family and I have a favorite place to camp, it is in the mountains of Almost Heaven,West Virginia. We go to Summersville Lake and a small town nearby called Fayetteville. There are so many things to do: kayaking, boating, fishing, hiking, rock climbing, and a great place to make awesome memories with each other. We meet people from all over who come to experience this area and the beautiful New River Gorge Bridge, where in October it is filled with base jumpers making the plunge off the famous bridge. Camping and spending time In the outdoors are a wonderful to get sun, activity, mind reset and peace.

    And Mark, I love your blog!!!

  32. Every 4th of July “weekend” our family goes to a camp in Nebraska City, NE with about 30 other families. We swim, walk, bike, hike, do high ropes, rock wall and climb a telephone pole and then jump to catch and hang from a bar. Every morning begins with a good cup of coffee, and good conversation. Every meal is made at our open fire, and the evenings are spent playing card games. We end the weekend with a church service.

  33. Camping is so Primal.

    It gets you back in touch with that primitive part of your soul, the part that yearns for simplicity and peace.

    I love taking a solo camping trip on occasion. Nothing but you and the wild. It’s incredibley quiet, and a truly restorative experience. Your appreciation of nature, & your own natural intuition all grow.

    But of course a camping trip is the best way to bond.

    Get a group of friends together and make memories you’ll never forget.

    My tip would be to combine a long trail hike with setting up tent for the night along the way. After a day of walking all your senses are heightened. Food tastes better, sleep feels amazing.

    Mark is right the world would be a better place if we all just camped more often.

  34. We got engaged backpacking through Maine (husband spend 4 days with the ring hidden in his pack looking for the perfect spot) and spent our honeymoon camping in Alaska. So getting outside is important for us. Getting excited now to take our son on his first camping trip soon.

  35. My wife and I had the most amazing trip a few years ago in Scotland. It was a yoga retreat, run in a completely off-grid “hotel” in the middle of nowhere in Scotland. There was yoga 2 times a day, meditation 1 a day…..and of course for me, some hilly Scotland runs ;).

    There was a vegan cook, and an amazing yoga teacher. With the location, and the ability to unplug it was the most relaxing thing I have felt in a LONG, LONG time. There was only healthy food, no alchohol, and nothing to do. So it forced you to get a bit introspective.

    Between the yoga, the lone runs, and swimming naked in an ice-cold waterfall…..I definitely came back from that trip a new man. And to me that is what makes a vacation GREAT.

  36. My daughter and I just returned from camping by Havasu Falls after spending a week hiking in Sedona. We go hiking every year in Sedona but this was my first camping experience. It was beautiful, definitely the perfect first camping experience. We had an incredible time!

  37. So I’m a huge hiker but have been somewhat apprehensive of camping. I am so inspired by Mark and the Bee’s that my husband and I are gunna give it a go!! So many inspiring stories and amazing memories I’ve just read through gives an excitement into our future endeavor, thanks everyone!!!

  38. I don’t think the benefits of camping, hiking, etc can be overestimated. I’m by no means a perfect parent, but one of the best things I’ve done for my kids (15 & 17) is taking them camping regularly since they were tiny. We camp a few times a summer with a large group of friends, mostly in Western Washington. Everyone should camp!

  39. One of our favorite family camps is Dosewallips State Park in Washington. The Dosewallips river winds around the campground and empties into Hood Canal. You can float the river out into the canal, and pretty much be guaranteed lots of eagle, hawk, seal and vulture sightings. Hood Canal is fantastic for kayaking, swimming, paddleboarding, and incredibly beautiful.

    1. That area is beautiful for sure! Potlatch, Cushman, Hoodsport, Lilliwap, Lower Lake Lena (spelling?) Upper Lake Lena……. just driving out there on a sunny day to watch the “diamonds on the water” sigh, such happy memories!

  40. I love to go out and watch meteor showers. My favorite date is the night of August 12th, the normal peak time of the Perseid shower. I can drive to a local state park after work, watch meteors all night, then return in time to get to work in the morning. When I was a Boy Scout scoutmaster, it was a nice summer campout for the scouts. Here in Texas, the parks are never crowded in August ;). This year, the Perseids take place near a new moon, so it should be excellent viewing. Unfortunately, it is also Sunday night. If you can’t make the Perseids or just don’t like the heat, try the Geminids on Dec 13 (Thursday). The moon sets early that night, so viewing should be good later. In either case, get away from the city to maximize your chance of seeing meteors. During a good shower, I have seen them in major cities (even from my back yard), but nothing beats relaxing under a dark sky with the Milky Way and a million diamond stars, watching meteors happen by.

  41. My favorite camping is a bit “sissy la la” camping.
    We live in northwest Oregon so it’s cold and hot at random (one day 90 and the next 50). I do not do well with cold so I bring an out door electrical cord, my electric blanket, and an electric light – great for the random cold rainy day spent inside the tent playing cards.
    Most of the days are sitting around poking the fire, making food over that fire, reading, playing the guitar and singing the blues, walking on the beach barefoot or running in the waves on that 90 degree day.
    Most of the trips were to Fort Sevens State Park, very popular and hard to get a spot there now – love their shower rooms!
    One year we spent a week camping and then the last two days went to the Stephanie Inn in Cannon Beach, oh yes, to no longer smell like the camp fire, but still be at the beach! That was a fun anniversary trip 20 years ago!!!

  42. Our most recent camping trip was Monument Valley, it was beautiful!

  43. We love to take trips up to Sedona and do a whole family hiking trip.