Wicked Wednesday–Are You a Happy Camper?

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 Giant Sequoia tree 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 Russell Pond, NHNew 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.

18 Thoughts

  1. Noooooo camping! I will bunk with Liz at the Embassy Suites, TYVM.

    I love nature, but I’m not brave about it. One of my writing friends is off for a three week residency at an artist colony in rural Georgia. It sounds lovely–beautiful location, solitude, a private writing studio, walking trails. I do love any kind of creative retreat and I love to walk. I thought about applying, but on her first day, she was given an orange vest to wear so the wild pig hunters would see her–and also a bear bell. I can’t be in a place that requires a bell to scare away bears. I will reserve time at the beach. No bears at the beach.

  2. Just hearing these experiences makes me shudder. I went camping once. One night in a sleeping bag, lying on uneven, rocky ground. Never ever again. Never!

  3. Russell pond campground? Been there, done that, it’s a nice campground, although can be a bit crowded. In all fairness, I need to admit that, these days, we use an RV, but our favorite spot is a small place on a lake… You take a 2-lane road, to a gravel road, go 20 miles to a dirt road, and you’re almost there! Nothing better than waking up before everyone else, carrying my folding chair a short distance to the edge of the lake, and reading a book to the accompaniment of the loons.

  4. OMG, Sherry’s line about the tick cracked me up lol. I agree with Edith camping as a child was not bad at all it was actually a lot of fun. I would go to music festivals with college friends and camp like at the Reggae Fest in VT or at the Falcon Ridge Folk Festival in NY. I also camped in North Truro for a summer by myself. I slept in a mini pop up trailer and had a tent that was full of all my clothes lol. I have to agree with Jessie though the idea of locking all my doors tight and then staying in a campground is kind of funny =) Great read ladies I started my morning with a good laugh =)

  5. I grew up on a farm and there were times we slept outside in the yard in sleeping bags. But I think most of the time I did not last the night. The mosquitoes always found us! Then my parents got one of those camper things to put on the back of the pickup and that was pretty good for when we went traveling. At least it was mosquito free and we were not sleeping on the ground. And we did get to do all the hiking and swimming in lakes and rivers.
    But once I was married and had kids, I thought maybe camping would be okay, until we had 3 kids in less than 4 years. Then it was no way was I going to do that. So now I agree, camping in a motel is the way to go. We do have a cabin up north, no TV, sometimes I have been there for a couple of weeks at a time with no car so can’t get to town. We do have internet there, though, and I would be lost without that.
    I enjoy a comfortable bed too much to be much interested in camping anymore.

      1. I do need the internet at the cabin but I don’t need the TV. When I am alone there for a couple of weeks, I need that connection to family and friends. Once in a great while I miss TV but I have DVD’s in case that happens. That has not happened in a couple of years there.

  6. For me the definition of camping was sharing a pup tent in the African bush for ten days during rainy season while a Maasai warrior guarded our camp at night…so we could tend to the hundreds of villagers who sought treatment at the local clinic during the day. That was last year. We leave to do it again in about six weeks. Yay!

    1. You are brave! I have heard true stories about the snakes and bugs in different parts of Africa, like Malawi. I am not that brave but thankful that people like you are!

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