The Joy of Camping

Camping is great, for other people-not me. I’ve been regaled by tales
of s’mores-flavored camping trips in which friends and family fall
asleep to the sound of frogs croaking while the campfire quietly
dies. I’ve always thought the same thing about this beautiful,
tranquil scene; it sounds like punishment. No showers, no proper bed,
no shoes and socks; no thanks.

The first area campers were those who settled our land. These brave
people, who knew how to handle great hardship, sometimes lost their
minds during the trek from where they belonged to wherever they
planned to end. I think modern man lacks the physical courage of early pioneers, so therefore
ill-equipped to sustain the stress, dirt and lack of showering facilities that are
the mileposts of a camping trip. While some pioneers lost their minds
because of their trip, it seems proof of modern man’s mental instability
that he keeps making camping trips even after his/her first
experience. I believe it’s rare that I belong anywhere in which I
cannot sleep in my own bed. In the case of camping, I can’t even
sleep in a bed. It is only the lucky camper who sleeps on a flat
uncomfortable mattress-most sleep on flat uncomfortable dirt.

I don’t have a lot of experience camping, I am sane and therefore
quit after the first few trips. As a young man, my friends and I
occasionally camped in the woods of the old Kasprick farm on the last
day of school. These were primitive excursions and helped me develop
my dislike for camping. Later we moved our base camp to Lilac Ridge
and it was there that I learned the brutality of a cold morning in late May.
My sharpest memory of camping on the west slope of Lilac Ridge is of waking to an environment where night still held sway and morning was dawdling across the Eastern time zone. The cold entered the tent door so freely that in desperation, I collapsed part of the tent to reduce our interior wind chill.

I am probably one of the few people who never attended Bible camp. I
grew up with the mistaken belief that no one may enter heaven who has never attended Bible camp. I can be stubborn, and had made my mind up that
short of a dart gun and one of those cages they make from a steel
culvert; I was not leaving my home to attend camp. I would have
been gone from home for a whole week with no way to communicate with
my dog, our barn cats or the cattle. I could pray to God from the comfort of my own bed
and I’d already learned the words to “Kum Ba Ya” during vacation
bible school in my formative years, so it seemed I had covered my bases.
I hope the leather wallet I never made is not the passport needed to enter heaven.

I recently read that some summer camps are wired to the internet. Worried parents can observe their children in real time from their home computer and then decide if their child is having a good experience. “Big Brother” has been replaced by “Big Mother” in this scenario and woe to the 19 year-old camp counselor who is caught on camera not providing a memorable experience for a youngster. I like parents who “hover” their youngsters into permanent childhood about as much as I like camping, so summer camp on the worldwide web, seems to me, worse than the real thing.

If you like camping, my apologies; I was scarred at an early age by poorly-erected, canvas tents and an over-developed need for a daily shower. I hope you enjoy your time around the campfire, as I hope you enjoyed this week’s column.

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