As a child, camping is a glorious experience. You get to sleep outdoors, roast hot dogs and marshmallows on a stick, and taking a bath, well that’s optional. What could be better? I thought that I loved camping when I was little. When friends would ask to take me with their families to their annual camping trips, I quickly said “yes”! Playing in the dirt, staying up late, and eating s’mores, taking a tubbing ride in the lake? What child wouldn’t enjoy that?
Since reaching adulthood, I’ve gotten accustomed to a certain way of life. For instance I enjoy not sleeping on the ground and prefer eating my food without an army of ants ready to attack, you know, the luxuries of life. I also really enjoy loading my dishes into a dishwasher and then proceeding to enjoy all the indoor plumbing that comes with my house. It’s also a personal favorite how my shower doesn’t include any wildlife, such as bats, squirrels, or other campers’ personal items.
I now know why I really enjoyed camping as a child. I didn’t pack anything, my parent’s took care of getting my belongings. I also didn’t have to cook all the meals over a charcoal camp fire or bring ten different tubs containing both food and ice to keep said food edible. I also wasn’t aware that you have to sign a bear waiver form when you get to the camp site, stating that if a bear attacks you, hey, at least we let you know. When the tent needed to be set up, or the hot water boiled for dishes, I wasn’t the one who had to do all the preparations. Lugging the firewood, getting splinters, creating a rain shelter for any unexpected showers, I wasn’t the one lifting the finger. Oh, have times changed…
Now when camping occurs, I mentally prepare myself for what is to come. First, I prepare a list of all the food items that we will need for said trips, including any paper products, bug sprays, sun screen, citronella candles etc. I then load all the items into the car and stuff them into my fridge/freezer. Then the sleeping, tent, and pop-up gear all needs to be loaded and packed. The coolers need to be iced properly and items need to be arranged according to the importance of when we will need them. The charcoal, firewood, grill and lighter fluid all needs to be packed. Towels, clothing and all cooking ware items need to be placed into their own corresponding tubs, and, you guessed it, loaded into the vehicle. We need to stop at the bank, get gas at a local pump (because it’s always expensive closer to the camping destination, out in the woods), ensure that the house is locked, and make sure we didn’t forget any items as we drive off.
As we load various items into the vehicle, I attempt to be gracious to my spouse, as I remember every year, camping tears our relationship apart. It’s not us, we determined, camping just brings out the worst in individuals. The heat, the bugs, and sleeping in less than ideal conditions, it’s enough to test anyone’s patience. It occurred to me, that we are actually paying money to live like homeless people for a weekend. The camp sites aren’t free, they charge about $25 a night for you to have a small plot of dirt to “live” on for a weekend; how nice of them. I mean, men and women spent years, trying to create the indoors, somewhere to be sheltered, to get them out of the woods. So what are we doing? We revert back to the woods? And for what? To create more work for ourselves? By camping, we are choosing to take our lifestyles back at least 200 years. We might as well ride our horses and fire up our muskets now.
In conclusion, I’ve decided that camping, while a beautiful experience if you’re blissfully ignorant to the work aspect, is not a vacation–it’s work. Modern technology has gotten us so far, and I’m a full believer in our progress as a human race. If I want the pioneer experinece, I’m sure there are plenty of historical societies I could visit to “recreate” my ancestors’ experiences. But for me, I’m moving on. And camping, I’m sorry, but we are never, ever getting back together.