Camping provides active, affordable means of entertainment

By Jackson Stephens, Staff Writer

Attempting to juggle relaxation and staying active on the weekend can be a daunting task. Camping is the best activity in the Bay Area that can incorporate these elements, while feeling like being on an under-budget mini-vacation.
Finding free time on the weekend is precious and after a long week of classes and work it can be easy to fall into a repetitive habit of binge watching Netflix at home. Hanging out with friends and family is great, but not when it’s often limited to the same old local spots.
While these activities can seem comforting, slipping into a funk can be a detrimental side effect.
Every so often, taking a drive to a campground in the Bay Area and spending the night can help stave off the monotony of routine.
It also makes the best use of hard-earned weekend time.

A vacation at your fingertips
The idea of a vacation promoted in commercials that spring up on TV and YouTube can be misleading and do not reflect the full range of what a vacation can be.
Web-based companies like Expedia and Trip Advisor flash online images of journeys to far off places like Hawaii, Miami or London.
This is a narrow concept that makes a vacation trip seem expensive, requiring a long-term commitment and portrays remote destinations as the definition of what a respite should be.
A weekend camping trip can invoke the same feeling of relaxation and adventure that a vacation holds while being only a short distance from home.
A one-hour drive from San Pablo to Live Oak Campground in Danville, or Pantoll Campground in Mill Valley, can feel like a world away.
With a wide variety of landscapes and range of activities that accompany them, these local treasures allow Bay Area natives a reasonable, nearby escape.
Local campgrounds offer mountains, grassy hills, and oak and redwood forests. Many of them are near picturesque lakes, rivers, and stretches of coastline. The unique and exquisite natural beauty of the bay draws many travelers from across the country and abroad.
Trips that take some people hours of flying or days of driving are right in our own backyard.
This gives us the ability to enjoy the tourist life without any of the hassle and expense of hotels, restaurants, or transportation worries.
What may be a one-time difficult visit for people from other states or countries, can be a normal weekend destination for East Bay residents.

A new fad called “glamping” has slowly, but surely, crept its way into the outdoors scene around the world — and the Bay Area is no exception.
Glamping is a term describing luxury camping where the amenities of modern life are placed outdoors for an unreasonably high fee.
This is in stark contrast to one of the great advantages of camping — it’s cheap.
Camping is so appealing because it’s simple and cost effective. At its most basic level, the materials required are a tent, blankets, a pillow, and food.
Other specific items such as an air mattress or camp grill can be added on as a budget allows.
Two-person tents can be purchased online from JC Penny for $15.99. A tent that sleeps four people can be bought for $26.99 from
If owning a tent is too much of a hassle, tents can also be borrowed or rented from providers like Last Minute Gear in San Francisco.
Finding free campsites can be researched through the locator on However, some sites require payment, which varies depending on the area.
The campsite reservation fee for family campgrounds in the East Bay Regional Park District is $8. At Anthony Chabot Campground, the cost to reserve a space is $25.
As for food and entertainment, bringing sandwiches, a good book, football and walking shoes from home might be all that’s needed.
Other activities, such as fishing, boating, or cycling, may require rental fees or purchasing equipment that is optional according to one’s budget.

Incorporates leisure and exercise
Spare time can mean choosing to be devoted to working out or taking a moment to finally relax. Camping can offer a healthy balance of both.
What’s better than having a good workout by hiking up a steep hill? Or taking a nap under a shady tree when you reach the top.
It also serves as an opportunity to take a break from technology.
In a world were cell phones and social media pervade every facet of society, going camping provides a brief moment of pause where the screens are off.
Finding other outlets during down time might lead to new hobbies.
The benefit of a trip like this is there is no gym routine or Wi-Fi hot spot limiting the decision to go for a run through the woods or sit back by a lake.
The focus on being active or relaxing is entirely up to the individual and if one dominates the other, a new trip can have a different focus.
Deciding on how time is used over the weekend is an investment. Staying home on the couch watching TV or going out to the usual places week after week is a poor return on hard-earned free time.
Choosing to sacrifice either being active or relaxing can be frustrating. Planning a camping trip in the Bay Area can accomplish both these goals while also being close to home, keeping to a low budget and enjoying the sensation of being on vacation.