What is Wild?

Many of my target audience that I speak to about getting outside and enjoying some outdoor pursuit often come back with a similar concern.  They hear a lot being said about wild camping and wild swimming and other wild activities.  They get confused about the term wild and they think that because they are not as physically active as the younger generation they cannot take part in any  form of ‘wild’ activity.

Well lets destroy this urban myth straight away

No I don’t mean the urban myth – we cannot do wild activities.

What I mean lets destroy this ridiculous urban myth called Wild Camping / Wild Swimming.

The first thing to remember is that anything with the word ‘Wild’ placed in front of it has been created to make the activity sound dangerous and ‘cutting edge’.  It has been created by a generation who have to psych things up to make them credible.


I thought I would look for the definition of both wild camping and wild swimming, so I went to the font of knowledge – Wikipedia.  Now if its modern, trendy, the thing to be involved in then it will be in Wikipedia!  yet neither of these two types of activity appear in its hallowed pages.

So I resorted to just asking Google (other search engines are available) “What is wild camping”.  I received a wide range of responses:

  • hiking off alone into the woods or up a mountain where no-one can find you for days
  • pitching up on a campsite or caravan park where there are acres of wilderness around but still a loo, shower
  • camping in insulated camping pods
  • Spacious pitches on a sustainable site with tent, tourer and motorhome pitches as well as pre-erected tents and a log cabin.

Now lets return to Wikipedia.  When you do type in Wild Camping what comes up?

Camping is an outdoor activity involving overnight stays away from home in a shelter, such as a tent. Generally participants leave developed areas to spend time outdoors in more natural ones in pursuit of activities providing them enjoyment. To be regarded as “camping” a minimum of one night is spent outdoors, distinguishing it from day-tripping, picnicking, and other similarly short-term recreational activities. Camping can be enjoyed through all four seasons.

Hold that thought for I will return to it shortly.


Now lets ask the question of Google “What is wild swimming” and the following definitions came up:

  • the practice or activity of swimming for pleasure in natural waters, typically rivers and lakes.
  • outdoor swimming
  • river and lake swimming
  • swimming in the sea

Again lets return to Wikipedia’s responce when you type in ‘Wild Swimming’:

swimming takes place in outdoor bodies of water such as open oceans, lakes, and rivers.

It does not mention white water, rapids or waterfalls/weirs so it is no different to swimming, it is just outdoors!  Can Lido swimming be defined as ‘wild swimming’ by this definition – yes!

Lets stop being ridiculous about wild swimming – families do it every summer when they go to the beach, I swam in rivers and lakes as a kid and I survived to tell the tale.  It’s not wild swimming just swimming.


To return to wild camping.  There is no such thing as wild camping – you are either camping or you are not.  If you want to really do ‘wild camping’  do what we called backwoods camping in my youth i.e. leave the tent at home.  I am sorry, but if you use a tent, yurt etc you are just camping.


So for the benefit of those over 50 who are put off by the thought of wild camping, wild swimming or anything else wild then don’t worry.  the prefix wild is used incorrectly and needlessly to make some innocuous activity appear more imposing that it actually is.

And to me friends and colleagues who feel then need to wild anything – just keep doing it and keep having fun for at the end of the day WILD is just a word.

Now let’s get out there and GO WILD.

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