Welcome to Wicked Wednesdays, where we all answer the question of the week. This week: Are You a Happy Camper?
Jessie: No. Camp rhymes with damp and for me, that about says it all. I completely and utterly fail to comprehend the appeal. Camping is all about the sorts of compromises I have no reason to make. I live in a tiny, rural village. When I want fresh, clean air, I open a window. When I feel the desire to cook over a flame, I light the grill. When I want to admire nature, I just pay attention to my surroundings.
I don’t understand purposely hunkering down for the night in any enclosure that is bound to smell of mildew. Just thinking about what to say about the sanitation situation gives me the willies. The most incomprehensible thing of all is the idea of a campground. People who lock their car doors inside their locked garages at home where the neighbors are known to them will go to sleep at night next to a rowdy bunch of drunken strangers with nothing more than a nylon tent flap separating them.
Liz: I couldn’t agree more, Jessie. My idea of camping is at the Embassy Suites. I hate bugs, community showers (or no showers) and sleeping in a tent makes as much sense to me as lighting myself on fire.
Luckily, my parents were never big campers, so I never had to contend with that misery as a kid. Once, in my teenage years, I “camped” in a pull-out trailer thingie at Salisbury Beach State Reservation in Massachusetts. I slept on a pull-out table that during the day became the “kitchen area.” There were too many people in this thing, everyone fought, and I fell off the back of a moped. No good memories there, and I love the beach. The woods? Nope. You’d have to tie me up and drag me there.
Julie: Another non-camper here. Roughing it is no cable. I inherited this. My mother was talked into being a Girl Scout leader one year. We went winter camping, which was in a cabin with an outhouse. She forgot her boots (wore plastic bags on her feet), and when she was informed that someone dropped a flashlight in the outhouse, she said “if there is a girl attached to that flashlight, she’s on her own.” When we were driving home she said to my sister and I “don’t even think about using the upstairs bathroom. I am taking a bath for the next two hours. At least.”
Now I have slept on boats, and have no trouble with that. And I have slept on many a couch. But a tent in the woods? At night? On purpose? Nope.
Edith: Well, about time a camping enthusiast chimed in! I LOVE camping. When I was growing up in a suburb of Los Angeles on one schoolteacher’s salary in a family with four children, our only vacation was camping for two week in the Sierras, in Sequoia National Park, to be exact. We went to the Lodgepole campground every year with our two canvas tents and puffy cotton sleeping bags. We hiked, swam in snow-melt pools, wore our grungiest play clothes, and were happy as oranges in the grove. My mother took us to the wide-open parking lot near the lodge where we all lay on our backs and she taught us the constellations. We learned about the native birds and trees from the rangers. We sang military songs around the campfire with our dad. It was perfect.
I also camped with Girls Scouts and attended summer sleep-away Girl Scout camp for years on end. Loved it. I camped during college with friends and did my share of backpacking. I drew the line at winter camping in Vermont, though! Brrr.
When my children were young, we took them camping at Russell Pond campground in New Hampshire. If it didn’t rain, we all had a lovely time. Once when it did, we packed up and came home early. But they loved it as I had. Really. Getting up to make your coffee on a camp stove and sitting at a picnic table with birds and fresh air and a good book to read? Or ending the day with a campfire and s’mores and a glass of wine or whiskey? Life doesn’t get any better than that. These days I might bring a really good air mattress to sleep on and my silicone ear plugs, but I wouldn’t change anything else.
Sherry: Ticks. I had one on embedded in my forehead during a girl scout camping trip in fourth grade. As an adult someone convinced me to go camping at Lake Powell. I was on a boat with friends. It was 80 degrees out and we were loving life until a lake patrol guy pulled up next to us. His message get off the lake now, a freak storm was coming. We huddled in the tent, winds howling, sides flapping violently and in the morning there was a two inch layer of snow. Fast forward to taking my daughter on her Brownie camping trips in Northern Florida. One year we went in early April to avoid the heat. And yes, you got it — freak cold front the temperature drops to 32. Now I know 32 to hearty New Englanders sounds warm but picture a bunch of thin blooded Floridians. Kids that aren’t allowed to go out for recess when the temperature is below 40. All night my daughter kept falling out of her sleeping bag and I kept stuffing her back in. And in the wee hours I heard crunching noises around the tent. The state park wasn’t far off the interstate and I didn’t know which I was more worried about a bear the park ranger had mentioned seeing or an imagined psycho named Billy Bob that had found his way from the road to my tent.
Readers: Share your camping experiences. Or purposeful lack thereof! We’d love to hear your stories.