The benefits of teenagers backpacking during a pandemic


Claire Hadley

Backpacking is not only eye-opening experience for teenagers, it’s an instant stress reliever that is good for mental and physical health.

Claire Hadley, Writer

Some might ask, what is the appeal to backpacking? Visualize a stress free night of sleeping under the stars, birds chirping and the smell of trees. Backpacking is an activity that can emotionally and physically benefit teenagers in this pandemic, as it can draw youth away from a high usage of screen time and a case of the indoor blues.

Ever since COVID-19 broke out, schools have increased the usage of computers and digital devices. Students were forced to spend an extensive amount of time in their home, which led to the feelings of isolation and depression in many cases.

This misery extended to the moment school was back in session, as the extra time that students grew accustomed to had been filled by long school days and extracurricular activities. The sudden change was unbearable for many. An overnight trip in the outdoors without internet access may rejuvenate the soul and cushion this change.

The second you step on a hiking trail, you get to throw the worries of everyday life away, which includes incessant phone use. While backpacking, the lack of communication with the outside world creates an escape from feeling consumed with your phone and the daily activities that drive that life. If there is homework that needs to be done, students can bring any paper copies of work that might need to be completed and leave the online work for the following day. Just find a rock, log or platform to prop your supplies against and you’re good to go. With only the sounds of nature uncontaminated by noise pollution, being outdoors can help students feel relaxed and can make homework easier to complete.

Not only is backpacking a stress reliever, it is undeniably rewarding. One of the greatest things accomplished during backpacking is finding a beautiful sight that would’ve never been seen if you chose to stay indoors.

Hobbies are also at the peak of development during teenage years, so picking up a hobby like backpacking can help form healthy habits that can last a lifetime. It’s an activity that will provide many healthy benefits. It can also help raise self-esteem; when students raise their athletic ability and meet personal goals, it creates a rewarding catharsis. Improving health or seeing a sight that takes your breath away benefits personal happiness.

Not only is backpacking mentally beneficial, it’s also good for the body. Surprisingly enough, applying sunscreen actually has a myriad of health benefits. According to Harvard Health Publishing, “sunlight hitting the skin begins a process that leads to the creation of and activation of Vitamin D. Studies suggest that this vitamin helps fight certain conditions, from osteoporosis and cancer to depression and heart attacks.” Being in the sun can help provide Vitamin D that can be hard to get when spending hours in a classroom or in a house studying.

Backpacking is an extremely rewarding pastime. Eating food after long hours of outdoor activity is pleasing to anyone. During the pandemic many gyms, clubs and exercise designations were forced to shut down, but even after the lockdown was discontinued many exercising groups just never resumed. Worse, many teenagers had no motivation to return to athletic activities due to the overload of homework given when returning to in-person school. A study done by University of California San Francisco (UCSF) showed that the screen time for teens nearly doubled during this time. Jason Nagata, an assistant professor at UCSF, remarked, “Screen time lends itself to more sedentary time and less physical activity, snacking while distracted, eating in the absence of hunger, and greater exposure to food advertising.” For many people, there was little desire to consume a proper amount of food during lockdown. Backpacking promotes healthy eating to fuel people through a trip. It is a form of exercise that creates the appetite needed to properly fuel the body on an outdoor trip.

Overall, backpacking is a rewarding activity that could be highly beneficial to teenagers. Returning from a stress-free trip into the wilderness can give teens the feeling of coming back from summer break, relaxed and ready to learn.

What do you think?